Upon return from travel, people say to me, “I want to hear all about your trip sometime”. I have found this is not actually the case.
The Travel Story
What they want is a distilled answer. Top one or two experiences in 10 words or less. Just the name of the towns; not much detail needed.
“How was it?” might require a “wonderful”, maybe “amazing, I loved it”. At this, they give you a nice smile. Job done.
“Fine thanks”, obviously too little; “I particularly loved…” too much.
The Travel Pictures
In this era of Facebook they’ve already seen a couple of snaps before you’ve even got home so no further pictures are needed.
We quickly move on to long explanations about the detail of their lives, sometimes for hours. Their cat’s cough, the frustrations of their job, all in far more detail and occupying great lengths of time they didn’t afford your trip.
This pattern has got me to thinking.
What Is a Returning Traveller Seeking From their Significant Others?
Is what I am seeking overly taxing?
Can we only really listen when we are genuinely interested in or knowledgeable about the place visited?
How rare is a listener?
Is being a travel listener even more rare & niche?
I got a message today out of the blue. A man I never actually met but conversed with in a Facebook Camino group asked how my Camino went and how I was settling back into life after.
This stranger in 2 short sentences gave me more than nearly every one of my loved ones. He acknowledged the feat of the undertaking of travel and he recognised that there is a process to go through in going back to our lives now that we have changed.
He understands. What a gift.
And it wasn’t a burden for him. I didn’t need for him to listen to hours and hours of talk and look at 1200 photos. I just wanted the acknowledgment.
The truth is, we are not the same after travel, we are never quite the same. Especially travel undertaken alone. The depth of challenge and absorption in what I experience is so profound I couldn’t possibly remain the same.
So I carry on, settling back into my job and home life as though I am the me that went away and I hold my journey within. But I know I am like an insect that has become too big for my exoskeletin and the sides are splitting.
Molto grazie Hugo for your thoughtful message. I am grateful.