One thing never fails with any trip you take: it goes by in a flash. Finally your departure day arrives, the anticipation that has slowly been building at last released when you touch down at your destination. But then WHOOSH! In a whirlwind of sightseeing, trekking, or relaxing, you find yourself back at the airport, dazed with post-vacation content, one week in the future.
Unless you take an extended trip that really allows you to immerse yourself in the place you visit, vacations undeniably pass too quickly. Four years ago, my family and I traveled to Greece–a dream trip finally realized. Although we returned to the States ten days later with a little more color, bearing souvenirs and a memory card full of pictures, the most frequent question we ask when reminiscing about our trip is, “Were we really there?”
My mom attributes the fleeting nature of a long-awaited trip to an inescapable dilemma:
“You’re worried you’ll never be able to visit the place again, so you cram in as much as possible, and before you know it, the trip is over.”
Of course, hers is the logical, practical explanation, but I like to think there’s something more behind it. We travelers know that in five days, two weeks, even a month, you can never truly grasp the essence of a place–no matter how inclusive the tour package. Perhaps trips pass so quickly not because they wish to be forgotten, but because they want to ensure that we’ll return.
We visit a place, but we hardly ever come to know it, like a great first date without any follow-up. You meet in a flurry of senses and emotions, only to disappear from each other’s lives shortly after. My mom, ever the realist, assumes the likelihood of visiting the same place twice is slim when there are so many others you long to see. And yes, this will often be true.
After most worthwhile trips, there are always some regrets–a hike you wish you’d taken, a painting viewed, a wine tasted–for which time, ever unforgiving, did not allow. But perhaps you are never meant to see or remember it all. Because with each aspect you fail to discover, there is promise. Promise that your yearning to fill the gaps will grow over time, will always be at the back of your mind, will maybe–one day–grow just strong enough to ignore the other destinations on your list and urge you back.
This post is the first in a monthly series, Monthly Musing, in which I share some of my travel reflections.