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.