I stopped being a tourist in 2009 when I stayed in Florence for a boy. He drove me through cobblestone paths, waving his hands maniacally at the pedestrians blocking the way and yelled furiously at the other crazy drivers who would yell right back and swerve past him with a hair breadth distance of space. I found it all charming as hell… the leather jacket, his dimpled smile, the local restaurant with the Florentine steak cooked just so and what seemed like the never ending bottles of red wine over dinner. It was a perfect moment in time but I couldn’t wait for my next adventure so when he dropped me off at the Santa Maria Novella train station so I could catch my flight back to Amsterdam, I gave him a kiss and hopped on the train without even looking back.
Those were the days of my youth.
Here’s the thing now. I’m starting to believe that I’m not cut out for this travel thing anymore. I find that it just gets harder and harder to leave and with every trip I plan and every plane ride I take far from home, I mentally prepare myself and anticipate the moment I end up falling in love with the city…because these days, I always do. Not because of the place itself, although it does set the scene, but because of the people I meet and the connections I make wherever I go.
Sometimes I think it might be better being that tourist who is shuttled around in buses, hitting up all the attractions in hoards…but fortunately and unfortunately, it has been awhile since I’ve been that sort of traveler.
These days, the brunches become coffees become dinners become drinks and the sky turns from midnight to the gorgeous pastels of the morning and you can’t believe time has flown by so fast. And then there are the boys who pick you up and hold you tight and the give you kisses that linger longer and you’re just done, game over, you just want to extend the feeling of permanence instead of moving on.
These days, there are no nonchalant hair flips and easy goodbyes. When it comes time to leave, you leave pieces of yourself all over the place and before, what could be replaced is just empty space. I guess this is what happens when you grow up. When even with travel love replaces lust.