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Traveler Returns Home

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Traveler Returns Home

“A traveler soon becomes the Path that he travels.”

I traveled the 600 km up from Brooklyn to visit my family in Upstate New York for the weekend. It is always a sudden shock when I walk through the open doors of my youth. For no matter how far away I wanders, when I returns home I am again treated as the same old kid that I was before setting foot off the farm.
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Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
in Brooklyn, New York City- october 1, 2008
Travelogue Travel Photos
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“Travel makes the mind,” Bruce Chatwin once wrote somewhere. Experience, impressions, confusion, and new horizons make a life. It is my experience that traveling causes a kaleidoscopic stream of contrasts, customs, cultures, and colors to ever wan in and out of your consciousness. Some of these impressions – some of what is learned from these impressions – make indelible changes.

Perhaps the traveler’s mind is like a supple plod of silly-puddy, always willing and wanting to be molded into something different, something changed, something new, all while staying solid as the same physical mound of goop.

It is my impression that these observations and impressions from the Road – the molding of the silly puddy – can provide a unique window from which one can look back at their own culture from the outside.

Smooth lines become abstract, the unnoticeable becomes conspicuous.

Once the traveler has the opportunity to see this vision, he is finished.

For he will never be able to stop traveling.

The cultural strings are now severed and the traveler becomes an untied free floating sort of aardvark misfit. No culture can contain such a monstrosity.

I can remember the first times that I was able to view my own culture from afar, and I felt the homespun roots – the universal seeming givens – that I was acculturated to accept as fact severed and without basis. This was all OK, until I came home.

The year was 2000. I had just returned to my first leg of international travel in South America.

I again returned to my box, and unfortunately saw it for what it was.

There were expectations wrought upon me, I was expected to do things that I did no longer wished to do.

I was no longer any good at any of this.

I had to escape again. I did, and continue to escape.

I could not accept the conflict of past and present expectations. I felt as if I was a façade: my face told my family that I was the same big headed kid who would play football in the backyard, but my experience had changed the ways in which I expected to be treated.

So it has always been a funny feeling to momentarily return to my social box after wandering around the world – doing almost exactly what I want whenever I want to – for extended periods of time. Almost a decade later there is still usually a transition period when I visit my family, in which my mother makes damn sure that my rough edges are again polished smooth and that I am re-civilized.

But I now know that I must momentarily exchange one pattern of living for another. I am home again and must code-shift into compliance. If I act this part then everything is smooth.

I like being with my family. I like how solid and good things are. Food comes from here and heat comes from there – change is blasphemous. There is no foraging, no hunting, no wondering where you will sleep. The patterns and symbols of life are set and arranged. It is nice to stop and rest in my paternal home, but for a traveler to reenter into this pattern of living, after having it cut and severed, is near impossible.

It is interesting how traveling becomes a pattern, how change becomes a constant. I become what is regular, through the fact that my landscape is dynamic.

But I sense that something funny is starting to develope: my family is beginning to take me – Wade – as “Wade the traveler.” There are signs rising to the surface that they no longer dream of me staying home and following the pattern that was set out for me in youth.

I rest content that my family is beginning to accept this ever wavering Road as acceptable, constant, and perhaps even redeemable.

I go home and it is known that I will soon leave. It becomes conversation:
“Where are you going next? What are you going to do there?”

I talk of working on the Open Road as my father talks of working in the metal shop, I talk of constructing websites and journalism as my mother talks of occupational therapy. This is nice.

I think that I may, once again, be becoming a real man.

Links to previous travelogue entries:
Words of the Buddha
Living Off Psychological Research
The Book Agent

Traveler Returns Home
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Filed under: New York City, USA

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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