Look up- You’ll miss me if you blink twice.

I sleep better in hotel beds.

When I’m in my own apartment, my brain never quite shuts off.  It’s partly FOMO, I think.  Until a year ago, I’d never heard of FOMO-  Fear of Missing Out.  It’s a type of social anxiety, a compulsion and a fear that you might miss something cool happening.  Fear of missing out is why I never fall asleep before midnight, and rarely before one in the morning.    Part of my need to travel is FOMO, I suppose,  but it’s also a variety of some other things that I can’t quite put a name to.   When I’m at home, I never settle in.  I rarely sleep very deeply.  I never wake up refreshed.

In hotels, though, I sleep better.  I think it’s partly that when I’m traveling, my mind shuts off-  I see entire cities in a single day or a weekend.  I walk the breadth of a city,  traverse courtyards, climb up church spires.   I run until I’m exhausted.  I wear myself out, and then I can sleep.   Then I can breathe.

In my early twenties, a girl I dated saw this trait in me.  Even then, I had the wanderlust, the need to keep moving.  Even when I was stuck in South Florida with no passport and no money to speak of,  she saw that I was discontent.  When she called me out on it with her typically insightful way, she referenced a single line from an Alanis Morissette song:  “Why are you so petrified of silence?”

It was an excellent question then, and it’s an excellent question now.  I think that maybe I like Adventure Steven far more than I like the silent version of myself that visits whenever I’m at home for a long time.  Living on a continent that isn’t your own is a distinctively lonely experience.   Sure, I visit with my friends here-  we share meals, or go to the pub.  That covers a few hours, or an evening.  Then I go back home, play around on the computer, chat online, watch far too much Netflix, and fail utterly to fall asleep.  The loneliness and isolation sets up a lively card game with the discontented restlessness, while boredom puts some good tunes on the record player.  Mild insomnia tends bar.

I’m still lonely when I travel to new cities, but I feel it so, so much less when I’m in motion.

I can always breathe a little bit easier when I’m in motion.  I sleep better when I’m on the road.

That’s why I travel.  That’s why I run.

run

14 thoughts on “Look up- You’ll miss me if you blink twice.

  1. I have a huge case of FOMO and it made being abroad pretty hard at first. I definitely do not sleep better in hotel rooms though. As much as I love traveling, there’s nothing like coming home to my own, thin, German mattress and weird pillows. Great post, Steven!

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  2. I like this post. I like it very much. Your posts are always good, but I feel like this one let us in a little bit more. Mild insomnia used to tend bar at my place quite often too… the first few months in Nbg weren’t so easy but that’s the way it goes. Travel on.

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    1. Thank you. Yeah, the posts tagged ‘introspection’ are the only ones that are really deeply personal- most of my writing is less Hallmark Channel and more Travel Channel. 🙂

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  3. I love this post. It’s powerful, and so incredibly relate-able. Even someone like me who is totally free of wanderlust can identify. Not completely, of course, but I’ve seen this movement in many of my friends.

    Do you remember when we first met and I nominated you for a bloggy award with the thought that you’re just so darn likeable? It’s this sort of post that makes me continue to use that expression. 🙂

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    1. I remember that first bloggy nomination very well Rara. And I don’t think you’re completely free of wanderlust, I just think it takes a different shape with you. You wander from topic to topic, exploring new ideas. Your mind travels further and wider than my body does any day. Your wanderlust is just all about inner space, instead of outer.

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