“Travel far enough you meet yourself.” -David Mitchell Travelers. Wanderers. Nomads.
There are many names for people who follow the hearts around the world.
As for me I’m an expat. I moved across the oceans, took a couple big treks alone, and along the way I’ve crossed paths with wanderers from near and far. Occasionally what was a chance encounter becomes a momentary friendship; the connection running deeper than the water lapping at our feet. Those who were once strangers now feel as close as skin. But the connection with a wandering soul is fleeting. Travelers come and go, sometimes faster than planned or without warning. When I don’t know how long that moment will last, it becomes more important to enjoy the companionship.
Momentary connections has been a constant theme throughout my life. As a child, friendships weren’t formed through necessitation but through the ease of childhood. A trip to the park meant a new playmate for the moment. My mom was surprised how easy it was for me to walk up to another kid and say, “Hi, I’m Dana. Let’s play!” Just like that, I had a new friend; to push the swing, to hide behind trees, to race to the bottom of slides. A friend for the moment. Of course it didn’t always work out that way and when it didn’t, I was fine playing alone.
It’s unclear when I stopped exclaiming to the world, “I’m Dana. Let’s play!” Perhaps it was the anthill of adolescence that tripped me up or a wall of angst I couldn’t scale. Whatever it was, I couldn’t find my footing. Instead of pouting like when a woodchip wiggled its way under my nail, I learned to navigate friendships with the grace of two left feet. And if those friendships didn’t flourish, I’d keep myself company. Passively I hoped that by traveling the world I would find the ease I lost in the playground.
I don’t feel sorry for the loss, not often at least. Those fleeting friendships became woodchip splinters in my soul. Now when I connect with a traveler, I’m reminded how quickly it will pass. Despite the sadness that thought might imbue, it remains a gentle reminder to enjoy the moment while it is present. As an expat, I feel more comfortable in this country than I do when vacationing around Asia. Daily life can become monotonous just as life back home became monotonous. I forget that there’s a whole new world outside of my apartment, my job, my routine. Those splinters in my soul revive the days abroad, reminding me to live in these moments, to breathe the air the mountains, to soak my toes in the river, to greet each wanderer I meet like friends. Because they are friends. For the moment.
Author: Dana – The Wandering Introvert
About: Dana is a US expat living on the Korean peninsula. When she’s not teaching elementary school students, she’s pushing through introversion and social discomfort to travel Asia. Her affinity for journaling has led to dabbling in travel blogging; to show other homebodies that the great big world is where adventure begins.