Sometimes, I get really homesick for Barcelona. It’s odd, really, that it still happens nearly four years post-study abroad, but feelings don’t always have explanations. Mine certainly don’t.
I watched a video a couple of weeks ago of runners in Barca. I wanted to turn it off because I felt like I was going to cry, but I kept watching because I had walked on the streets they were filming and my feet wanted to remember what it felt like. I had a conversation with someone who just came back from Europe, and it reminded me that nobody warned of reverse culture shock. Another thing nobody said was that traveling gives you homes all over the world, sometimes in places you will only visit once. And that’s what hurts.
I’m 24, living alone. I support myself. My salary doesn’t leave room to buy name brand dishwasher soap at the grocery store, and Dunkin’ Donuts is a treat. I’m not complaining about that. I’m good with money, thanks to my dad, and I couldn’t care less about which company manufactures my soap. I am also, admittedly, spoiled, and have been blessed to visit many countries during college and after. I treasure that, but it also makes me stare out the window sometimes and hate that its the same one I stared out of yesterday. Education has shrunk my world, but it’s like tasting chocolate cake and not getting to swallow it.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in my bedroom, feeling irrationally frustrated with my bank account and the vacation time I don’t have. And then I saw my bookshelf. Lined up, with gold binding and turquoise flowing script, was my collection of The Royal Diaries series. These are books written diary-style, following the adolescence of history’s greatest female names — Cleopatra, Anastasia, Kaiulani. I read them when I was probably ten to twelve years old. They have scratches on the beautiful gold-tipped pages and the corners are fading. But I thought, “I could go to Egypt.”
So I did. I went to Alexandria in 57 BC. When I left, I went to 19th Century New Orleans, and the Amazon in 1912. I’ve also recently been to Boston pre-independence, London during World War I, and Texas when cotton plantations were still a thing. Sometimes, I go to a place that doesn’t exist for anybody else — a world I made up and am still working on constructing. Maybe someday, it can be a vacation for someone that doesn’t have time or money for plane rides.
I’ve fallen in love several times and seen buildings that are nothing but dust and archaeological digs right now. I’ve cried, in an apartment with a fish tank and a whole lot of stories. I started to remember why I used to carry books to dance class to read for five minutes. I’ve realized that it’s been years since I’ve been truly obsessed with reading. I missed it so, so much.
Once I realized that I have a bookshelf filled with dozens of places to go, it didn’t hurt so much that my window is the same every day.