Escapism vs. Infatuation vs. True Love vs. Reality

[as i write, i’m trying to organize my thoughts. questions i ponder are in bold. this is more of a stream-of-consciousness post that has been edited 30+ times over the past couple of days…]

i’ve been thinking lately, ever since my transformation post, what my other motivations for travel are. of course, the biggest one (and i suspect this is true for most people) is simply to escape: getting away from the drudgery of your daily routine and the mundane worries — or maybe not so mundane ones — that plague us as human beings. for a couple of days or more, we’re free, unshackled and mary-tyler-moore-throw-your-hat-in-the-air high on life. on those special trips where something about the destination speaks to your heart, though, your feelings may deepen to an “i could soooooo live here” level.

i have a friend from germany who is currently visiting san francisco for the first time. he wrote a status update:

Was zusehends unwahrscheinlicher wird: meine Rückkehr.

or, translated, “what is quickly becoming increasingly unlikely: my return.” i have often felt this myself. is this just escapism/infatuation/romanticism speaking? how much can you be charmed by simply being removed from your everyday life? i’ve felt a much closer connection to germany than to other places (partially why i moved there for graduate school), but then another question logically arises. let’s say i somehow got the chance to move to berlin. the honeymoon period has to end sometime…or does it? i mean, when you’re traveling, you are making your judgment more than likely based on the touristy parts of town, or at least the parts you want to see. and in my situation as a student, i didn’t have any of the “adult” stresses like a job (save for a Hiwi position) or mortgage payments. on the other hand, if you feel something magical about a place, it stands to reason that you could continue unearthing that charm the more you stayed there, right?

Life can't always be a love parade...right? (2006 Loveparade)

this is actually something i think about often, since it forms the basis for one of the bigger regrets of mine. i moved back to california from illinois shortly after college thinking i would like it there (err, here) more, only to be kind of bummed out. yes, i have friends (and more importantly, my significant other) in the bay area, but i don’t love it there and often daydream about living in chicago or new york city.

(related: is this what makes a modern-day nomad? could i be perpetually high on life if i kept moving to wherever struck my fancy?)

people do this all the time, relocate to a place they fall in love with, but i wonder if there are any studies on long-term happiness or rates of return. it just occurred to me that the basis of that decision to move (assuming there was nothing else involved, like a spouse or a job that forced it) has a lot to do with it: escapism is temporary, but infatuation could turn into a fondness, or even love. but how can you tell the difference? if it’s the first of these, are you setting yourself up for failure? pretty soon what you’re escaping to becomes your new reality, right? would it be that much better than what you left behind? on the other hand, can you consider it a failure if you at least tried? that’s more than most people ever do.

i suspect that this is one of those things that you never would know unless you actually did it, and unfortunately it’s so much easier said than done. that said, if i were given an opportunity (or decided to make my own opportunity) to relocate, i would. partially to start over, partially to have an adventure, mostly to move to a place that i feel a connection to.

i think i’m leaving this blog post with more questions than answers.

for the record, cities i could see myself living in, in no particular order:

  • marrakech
  • paris
  • anywhere in germany
  • stockholm
  • maybe seoul
  • new york
  • chicago
  • lisbon

1 Comment on "Escapism vs. Infatuation vs. True Love vs. Reality"

  1. Whenever I travel, especially to a place where I’ve never been, the question that I always ask myself is: “Could I move here to live?” There are some places where one could see oneself moving and settling down in. New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and London were such places for me, and I ended up living in all of them for a shorter or longer period of time.

    When you stay in a travel destination for a certain length of time (I think longer than a couple of days or a week) you master the local lingo, especially when it comes to local street and map references. When I’m in Chicago, I talk about Boystown, the Near North Side, the Southwest Side, the Loop, the “L”, and the lake. Once you have the lingo down, you feel as though you belong there.

    I liken it to trying on a pair of trousers. You may like them when you see them on the rack, but nothing compares to trying them on to see whether you like them enough to buy them. I suppose that inveterate travellers are constantly trying destinations on as they would a pair of pants; after putting them back on the rack, you put your own well-worn jeans on and live in them for a little while longer.

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