A Traveler’s Faux Pas

Just having wanderlust thoughts is lucky enough. It means that I’ve been exposed to adventures that only occur when traveling to places unknown, under circumstances way outside the infamous “comfort zone”. And although I’ve visited some spectacular places, there are a few that make my heart ache just a little. It’s the type of heartache you experience when you’ve left a small part of you in a city that you may, or may not, ever return to.

I think to myself all the time, “I’m going to come back here someday. I don’t know when and I don’t know how, but I’ll make it happen.” I only say that when I’ve truly enjoyed a city.

When the connection between me and a physical place is so powerful that it’s as if I left a piece of myself there.

Then it hit me.

The connection isn’t with the physical place at all. I mean sure, a place could look like it came straight out of a Travel + Leisure magazine photo. It could be a place full of art and culture and mouth-watering cuisine. But at the end of the day, that’s not what I’m connected to. I’m connected to the people I met there and the experiences I created.

It would be a mistake—a faux pas, as the French would say—to go back to a place hoping to have the same experience as the one before.

I could go back to those places that hold a special place in my heart, but the people, the friends, and the experiences I had before won’t be there waiting for me. A part of me is afraid of re-visiting these places in fear of disappointment. If I go back to these special places, I’ll be met with new people, new experiences, and with all new memories. And although the second time around may not turn out bad, it won’t be the same as the first.

As travelers, memories are what we can hold onto. Memories become a part of us even when we’re physically taken away from the place where they were created.

My only hope is that some memories don’t fade. And if these memories fail to resist the effects of time, I hope they fade gently.

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