Always Waiting, Always in a Rush
I don’t know where to call home. My memories of childhood are more last-minute packing montages than dappled sunlit idylls. When I visit my parents there’s no old room to stay in, no sense of time passing or time spent. There are only four walls, a bed, and a cart-full of my sister’s stuff on the floor–her subtle reminder that I only have a bed to sleep on, because she’s gracious enough to share a bed with our kid sister, who kicks everyone in the ribs.
I don’t have an idea of home, because I’ve never lived anywhere for longer than four years. You’d think it’d make me lonely, rootless, hungry to settle; or maybe you’re a romantic, and imagine my life being one of secret-agent travel-ease, where I always know the best place to stay, with the best room, and the best view, the check forgotten because I’m always comfortably under-budget. But really, I’m neither.
Like everyone else, today, I travel for two reasons: family and a desire to get as far away from my boss as I possibly can–although, if I’m honest, it’s probably because home has started to stale; it’s hard to build a life if you’re always moving. And like, most everyone, I forget to plan and have book everything last-minute. I don’t book my flights at least six months ahead. I don’t comparison shop every hotel-chain, vacation rental, and swedish-infested hostel. I wait until guilt and terror and not being where I’d promised summons me to the computer to open up a flood of tabs. The first and quickest thing is the flight. Sure there are discount sites and travel packages, but google’s endless reach now track those too, so what used to take many horrified hours and three nearly bought tickets, now takes ten minutes and series of three clicks. I fire up google flights, quickly compare, and soon, the stress of thinking I won’t make it goes away. I can walk away knowing I got the best that I could. I had all the information. I bought smart, if late. Still, two weeks to departure is just the right amount of time to get, and stay, excited about going somewhere.
Of course, that small of amount of organizational triumph doesn’t lead to more productivity. Instead, it overwhelms and leads me to binge-watch my latest show, ‘because I deserved it’, knowing, all the while, that I have a four-hour session awaiting me when I try to book a place to stay. Because I know the onslaught of every bit of travel advice will rush at me: book direct with the hotel (my hotel desk friend) leads to five open tabs; scour the popular deal sites (the traveling aunt), another four tabs; hit the travel package sites (my friend who’s always on vacation) two tabs; apartment and home rentals (my precious friend, in a band, also likely a trust fund owner), seven more tabs; a no-frills stay (my budget dread-headed friend), three tabs; and more endless advice seeding my browser until I’m over-run with panic and a crashing computer; because it’s been four hours, I’ve gotten light-headed from not eating dinner, and I still haven’t found a place to stay for my trip in two days.
So I feel guilt: I’m lazy, cheap, disorganized, and unappreciative. Also, a sucker, because I know the next time I open my computer I’m going to buy the first listing that pops up, even if it’s over budget. My time is valuable: there other shows to watch, family to take care of, friends to see. And I nearly spend the money.
But I don’t, because a friend of mine tells me about alltherooms.com. It searches the entire accommodation internet, every single place you could possibly stay, every room, everywhere in the world, on one easy to sort webpage. I end up finding a deal on an apartment share, next to the hotel I was convinced I was going to over pay for. Instead, of checking in feeling duped, and it coloring the whole trip, I know I’ve seen everything there is to offer and feel excited about meeting my grandmother in Vegas. A gift for her 80th birthday.
She ends up winning a grand on the slots and tells me stories she never would’ve told in her kitchen; because travel’s about getting away from ourselves and discovering those around us; about realigning and readjusting our habits, so that when we get back, heavy-limbed and fuzzy-headed, we find home strange and full of wonder again.