Travel jealousies and regrets

21:20, Jun 06 2013

I've lost my wife at the moment... to a two-week-plus business trip to London and Paris.

I have to admit that I've been battling a searing case of travel jealousy.

It has given me a taste, a reminder even, of what it is like to be the guy not on the trip. Tucked away in America, abroad from so many of close friends and family for so long, I got too used to seeing myself as the one who was eternally away.

Cut adrift from LP, my much beloved co-conspirator, I find America taking on a much drearier filter. Including this blog, I would have met seven deadlines in four days. I've started to realise that being self-employed, when LP gets home from work each night that's my cue to stop working. Without my daily reminder to knock off, I've been disturbed to find out that I'll could keep on throwing myself at it until bedtime (or more realistically, until I get hungry).  

When you lose your housemate and companion for any length of time, there's always the initial exhilaration of being home alone. But the joy of complete independence, when you're so used to the presence of another, wears off. For some reason, my LP-less spells are never as empowering as I imagine they could be. That book, that job I've been putting off, the friend I haven't seen in too long... I tell myself this is when I'll get to all that, but I don't.


Instead, I usually just spend more time than usual on Facebook, accelerate my TV consumption, leave the dishes until the morning and maybe spend a bit more time pants-less.

Or in the case of the past five days, holed up in my little home office working too much, drinking more cheap red wine than usual and pausing for the odd basketball game and a movie.

And then when you intersperse all of that work and nothing with two- or three-times-daily Skype calls with LP, hearing stories of London, about meals out with clients, trips to an art gallery with an old friend, catching a look here and there at the city skyline out of her hotel window... well, I kind of feel like 17-year old James cooped up in Havelock North looking to just bust right out of there.

I have been watching the London-set BBC TV show Luther over the past week. Midway through an episode the other evening I found myself overcome with an overwhelming travel lust.

When I stewed for a bit on this locational envy I was working through, I concluded that it was a good thing. If people never left, would we still want to go ourselves? Other people's adventures remind us of how much there is to experience. My sister went to England on a gap year when I was 12. My Mum and Dad went on separate trips to America when I was in my teens. My sisters left for university. People around me travelled, so I wanted to travel.

Deep down, none of us are really that original, right?

Part of my travel jealousy is driven by a slight anxiety that I haven't been to Europe.

(I lived in the UK when I was three years old, but I have no legitimate memories of this and the only story I've been told about myself during this time involved me throwing a book at someone's head. It doesn't really count.)

I came to America to study when I was 19. I came back to America a few years after that, based largely on what a good time I had that first around. I started seeing LP on that second trip and from that point on my attention and resources have largely been devoted to travelling to and from New Zealand and the USA.

Why do I feel bad about not having been to Europe?

Part of it comes from having friends on their British OE or dotted through various parts of Europe. It feels like the stars have aligned over there and I don't know how much longer that will be the case.

But then it's also that going to Europe simply seems arbitrarily important in a way I can't justify and doesn't hold up to scrutiny. I want to go there because of some ingrained idea that I should, an innate need to conquer, to travel... it's just there.   

I'll go to Europe, I'm fairly sure of that. But it still stands as my current travel regret. And seeing as I hope to one day not too far away have a family, I wonder if you just have a finite number of trips in your life you can practically take.

Does this clock with you? How do you cope with travel jealousy? What is your biggest travel regret?

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