Slightly Atrophied Wanderlust

I read a particularly dangerous blog post by from, which recently made it to Time’s 25 best blogs of 2012. Earl, the blogger, explains in the post that it is easy to travel and live abroad even if you don’t have much or any money to your name. One of the best ways to earn income as an expat, according to him, is to teach English, mostly conversational, privately. Now, I know for a fact that this works. In Istanbul, I ran into dozens of expats living fairly comfortably in the city by tutoring English. Some where people I met a few times, and some were close friends, but all said it was fairly easy to do.

Traveling and living in new, different places is something I’ve always wanted to do. So much so that I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t want to. Either I dreamed about flying somewhere I’d only ever fantasized about (destinations changed depending on what I was exposed to/heard about more recently), or I was so young that I didn’t really know what traveling even was; these were the two sides of my memory. Going to Turkey multiplied that urge by a billion, and I realized just how amazing world outside my old perspective was. Now I’m about to graduate. I will be out of college. I know traveling isn’t nearly so hard as people seem to unconsciously think it is, that it’s not nearly so complicated. So, what’s holding me back?

I’m scared.

Yeah, I said it. There’s a certain progression my life has to it now that I’ve made the decision to apply to Classics PhD programs. It kind of feels like I’ve scheduled the next 5-6 years of my life away. This isn’t a bad thing, I should make that clear. A Classics doctorate is my dream, because it will ensure that I not only am doing what I love for the rest of my life, but also interacting with people like me, teaching people who are interested in it, and, of course, traveling. However, there’s a little bit of the spontaneous here and now that this sacrifices. Back in a routine in my home country, old things like hesitation and caution have come back. Can I really pack my backpack and board a plane to anywhere and everywhere in a week? Well, yes.

There’s a ‘but’ there. Come on, you know there is. It’s not even a justified ‘but;’ it’s the same overused, worn out ‘but’ that you’ve heard dozens of times consisting of an amalgamation of “money/time/responsibility/work.” It’s worn through the way the soles of the boots I wore to Istanbul were after four months of cobblestone streets, weekend trips, rain, snow, and endless walking. The legs it’s standing on are broken, used toothpicks, chewed through while walking further and further through the side streets of Istiklal. Trying to plan a future (bit of an oxymoron, that) infects wanderlust with atrophy. Is there physical therapy for this?

There is, and it’s called looking through the photos I still have yet to post from my solo trip to Paris and Rome. It reminds me that, though they are both packed with tourists, I have to visit each city again. Rome, because the one day that I am able to see the Vatican, my favorite piece of artwork of all time, Augustus at Prima Porta, is closed off. (I nearly cried right there in the hall with a bunch of German tourists taking stoic pictures a few feet away, but then I found the statue of Laocoon and the serpents and I felt better.) Paris I would have to see again even just for the simple reason that two and a half rainy days were not nearly enough. Luckily, I have more reasons though. I’m three quarters of the way through a Queer Literature class, and now cannot not go back to visit the places were Natalie Clifford Barney held her salons; and, really, how did I not invest more time in Hemingway’s haunts and the house Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas shared? It also helps that when I indulge in the best/worst habit of checking airline booking sites, flights to Istanbul are consistently the lowest (though it’s been tied with Bucharest a few times).

I have a passport. I have a CouchSurfing account. This is completely possible, it’s just a matter of me wanting it enough.


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