Traveling is a flirtatious dance. We discover tidbits about our dancing partners in the brief whirls and twirls, only to move on to the next, just as we unearth secrets about our favorite new places, only to smile, wave, and move on to the next adventure. Sometimes though, certain places stay with you. They’re the places of your heart–the dances you could never forget.
Everywhere you go, you meet people, you meet places, and you scatter your heart across the world.
Particularly now, in 2014, with globalization in full force and us “millennials” refusing to settle, the practice of finding a steady, long-term job and beginning to nest in our hometowns is a dying tradition.
I will never again be who I was in Paris, and I’ll never love those people in quite the same way again. When I said farewell to Paris, I said farewell to that time in my life, the people I loved, and the version of myself that I loved. We do this everywhere we go. Not just travel bloggers, although some bloggers who venture to 80 countries in one year may leave their hearts scattered further across the globe than others. But it feels the same and means the same whether you leave your hometown for college or fly across the Atlantic Ocean.
And while I will continue exploring new places, I will also return to my favorite gems, for we all need to balance the new and the old. So these are the places that will forever have my heart–the places that I could barely leave, and only did so under duress (ahem, the threat of deportation). We all have our different places, and they could be as vast as the state of Texas or as small as your grandmother’s attic. What are yours?
1. Edinburgh, Scotland
I visited Scotland when I was just a wee lass. And no matter how many years pass between my time at the Fringe Festival, Edinburgh crops back into my mind time and time again. It’s the place of my dreams, where I imagine myself living one day, all hobbled and crickety with an extensive supply of tea and books. I completed my first two stories there, the first about a cook in Bedaire Castle, and the second, the Bedaire Castle cook’s cat and her friendship with the local ostrich. Someday I’ll go back and see what happened to that cast of characters.
2. County Clare, Ireland
The rolling hills of Ireland have acquired a gentler slope than those of its Scottish neighbor, and the culture is a delight. While we all marveled over the Cliffs of Moher, the Western shoreline of County Clare stole me away, for at the end of a long hike, we found ourselves atop cliffs, overlooking the sea, with no one for company but ourselves and the ruins of a battered castle.
3. Hay-on-Wye, Wales
When I lived in London at 18, I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the inner nerd in me required–demanded, really–a visit to Hay-on-Wye for its annual literary festival. I drank tasty cider, sampled goat’s ice cream for the first time (only to somehow crush the cone with my fingers–too much excitement–too many books), and slept in a yurt. The festival itself was wonderful, but more than anything, I felt my happiest while wandering through bookstore after bookstore. And when we slept in our yurt, the sounds of distant revelers and backpackers filled the night, and the scent of forest we brought in our shoes, and musty books we brought in with our bags, filled the tent. I slept very soundly.
La Ville Lumière will forever hold me in its illustrious gaze. I ramble enough about the city of my heart on this blog for you to understand my shameless love affair with Paris–a historic, wonderful, complicated place. And at the end of the day: even if you’re with an utter stranger, though it’s better when you’re not, nothing in the world quite compares to kissing under the lights of la tour Eiffel.
Although I love Paris, my time in London was free of the complications of life, and thus, I have rosy memories of the city. I stayed just long enough to become acquainted, and not so long to be reminded of life’s realities and heartbreaks. I spent my Sundays writing in the London Library, where I would occasionally run into my professors (I’m cool guys, I swear), explored Greenwich, found my favorite coffee shop, and favorite walking paths in Hyde Park. When I returned to London for New Years (a story yet to be told), I visited these haunts, and found them unchanged and waiting for me. Truthfully, I find London a rare city. Somehow it holds everything at once–a multitude of cultures and histories in a new, vibrant place.
Once upon a time, there was a hidden, forgotten place. A forest of pine trees encircled clear, silent glacier lakes in rings of solitude. And the loons, their feathers rippling across the waters, sang to the moon at midnight. Bears roamed within this forest, as did white deer, brave enough to nuzzle your child’s nose. And in the darkest trails of the forest, you’d always find clearings filled with light and wildflowers reminiscent of fairy tales. This, mes amis, is northern Wisconsin. It is the land in the deepest part of my mind–the place I will go back to time and time again.
Where are your places? If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? I’d love suggestions for my next trip!