8.23.2013

The Traveling Homebody

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-ka6IA1IYmXU/TlXXOLO_qsI/AAAAAAAADCU/E0cMzW9Ypc4/s320/image+02+don%25E2%2580%2599t+pack+what+you+can+buy.jpgI was going to post a running diary of my day trip to New York City yesterday, but realized it would be pretty short and boring:

Megabus to NYC.  Walked High Line Park.  Subway to Yankee Stadium.  Caught up with friend during long rain delay.  Took bus home before game even started.  The end.

Instead, let me post something even more boring and insular: a musing on why I enjoy both traveling and being at home. 

Seems inherently contradictory, right?  You can't be a homebody and a world traveler at the same time, can you?  Either you like mixing it up among the masses or huddling up in your own little slice of the world; surely it can't be both.

And yet.  Maybe those of you out there who are both introverted and social understand where I'm coming from.  You enjoy being out, absorbing new stuff, even engaging in heavy doses of interpersonal contact.  But you also enjoy getting home, putting on your bum-around clothes, and puttering around the house with a bowl of cereal and the newspaper. 

Why am I bringing this up?  Because yesterday's trip to New York City encapsulated this dichotomy in me.  Despite the fact that I saw zero baseball due to the long rain delay, I still found the trip fun and invigorating.  I got to navigate the New York City subway system, catch up with a friend, and walk a lovely urban park.  Not bad for a Thursday in August.

Perhaps it will come as a surprise, though, that the most enjoyable and restful part of the trip was reading business magazines on the bus to and from NYC.  There's something about reading by yourself on a moving vehicle that is just perfect for me: alone, absorbing information, and yet on the move. 

And perhaps it will come as no surprise that the best part of the day was coming home.  Partly because I could kiss my wife, recharge my dying phone, and scarf down lasagna and pie.  But mostly because of what home represents: a place where I can finally exhale and feel safe. 

Importantly, home also feels good because everything I need is here.  I'm not at all a hoarder, but at the same time houses can contain a lot of objects in them.  Pretty much everything I own is within these four walls, which means that I have ready access to it.  Obviously, when one travels, you have to make choices about what you take with you, and hope that you didn't forget anything or that something doesn't come up that you didn't expect and if only you'd known  you would've packed it.  It's always a source of anxiety for me, when I'm packing or when I'm away, is that I have something at home and should've brought it but didn't.

And yet that is actually one of the things I like about travel, which is that you strip down to the minimum.  I actually enjoy packing, because it's fun to think that I will be away from my house and everything I need can be contained in one bag.  There's something freeing about having your existence boiled down to that few possessions.  (It's a like a game, too, to pack as little as possible and see if you can get away with it.)

Maybe this is making no sense, or is mind-numbingly boring.  Maybe I've shared too much of my crazy.  I just think it's strange that I'm all these things.  I wonder if others can relate. 
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