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The Joy of Home
By Kate Hickey
Photo by Kate Hickey
London doesn’t have much of a skyline, but I could just see the Shard from my window.
I’ve always been a bit of an amateur adventurer, a toned down adrenaline junkie. I like thrill rides and taking some risks. I was lucky as a kid; my parents took me all sorts of places. I went to Europe first when I was twelve.
I think that might have been where I really got the bug for moving around. I’d been to a few places around the States before that: Florida to visit grandparents, Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks in North Carolina. I’d been to the West Coast, to San Francisco and Phoenix, Arizona. I actually don’t remember the first time I rode a plane. But when we went to Europe, I really began to understand what traveling is all about.
Funnily enough, everyone speaks German in Germany. We visited my sister in Berlin, stopped off in London to see a West End show, and were home in under two weeks. I vividly remember ambling along a street in London, looking at storefronts. Looking back, I now know that it was Regent Street near Oxford Street, down a bit towards Piccadilly Circus.
In high school, I did travelled fairly often. My sister (same one) moved to New York City, so I visited her there a good amount. My other sister moved to Colorado, so I got to spend some time there as well. I traveled with my high school’s marching band, as well. And barely two weeks after I graduated high school, I was on another international flight, this time to Austria and, again, Germany with my German teacher. I saw old, beautiful architecture and old, beautiful objects. Everywhere you look in Europe, the buildings and the culture and even the streets you walk on have a story to tell. It’s ancient in a way we don’t understand in the United States. I ate real schnitzel in Vienna. I walked up an unbelievably steep hill and looked out over Salzburg. I experienced the Germany/England World Cup soccer game in Munich.
I even went paragliding in the Alps. I ran off the side of a mountain and watched the treetops fall away from my feet. I screamed and laughed at the same time, with the castle Neuschwanstein hundreds of feet below me. I hit the ground running and wished I could do it again, immediately.
When I got home from Europe, I moved across the country from Pennsylvania to Arizona. That was a bit more difficult, if I’m honest. But while I was there, I went even more places! I saw more of the West Coast, took a lot of road trips to California and Nevada and New Mexico. I visited Seattle and drove from Tucson to Chicago.
In early September of my last year of college, I got on a plane in America and got off in the United Kingdom. I took a forty-minute Tube ride into the center of London and began a four-month extravaganza of travel, excitement, and learning. In some ways, it was an extended vacation, but in other ways, it woke me up from a half-sleep.
I think people travel for a lot of reasons. Some people travel in search of knowledge or understanding or depth. Some people travel because they never want to stop learning, or moving, or experiencing. They want to expand everything that they know and everything that they are.
Some people are lucky. Some people were born where home is for them. I wasn’t. I didn’t know what it meant to feel at home in a place until I was late to catch a bus and instinctively jumped onto a different bus that would get me back to the Baker Street Tube stop faster.
If you think of the place that’s really home to you, where do you think of? What do you feel? Isn’t there a sort of joy in you that comes from simply being there? That joy makes good days great and bad days okay. Sure, totally miserable days stay the same, but at least when those days are over, you’re still existing in a place that gives you comfort just because it is. Each place in the world has a life to it, a feeling, a charge, a vibe that you can feel as you walk around it. That’s why people travel—to feel that difference, to see how that difference feels inside your skin.
I’ve lived in about five places at this point, depending on everybody’s personal criteria of what it means to “live” in a place rather than visit it. I’ve liked all of those places. There is something good in my mind to say about each of the places I’ve called “home,” however briefly. But the feel of London rumbling around me gave me peace in a way no other place ever has.
I would lay awake and smile to myself, listening to the traffic, noticing the light pollution. I would give myself those moments where there was nothing else but me and the city, coexisting together in perfect harmony. I wouldn’t worry about what I had to do the next day, or how much time I had left, or whether or not I could afford to eat more than pesto on toast this week. All of that didn’t matter. All that really mattered was that I was home. I’d found where I belonged and it felt right. Everything felt right. I finally felt right.
#Real #London #Travel #StudyAbroad #Home #Europe #EnglishMajor #CollegeExperience #VisitingNewPlaces #Adventure
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