‘It’s a funny thing coming home. Nothing changes. Everything looks the same, even smells the same. You realize what’s changed is you.’
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I have always been fascinated by travel literature as I feel it is not just about narrating or reading one’s travels. I see it as a portrayal of a journey leading to a more complete sense of Self. Only by seeing the world am I able to see and understand myself. I believe that is why travel writers are compelled to do what they do. Traveling is about challenging ourselves into doing something that many would definitely define as crazy. It is about defying our own limits.
Whenever I think about traveling I remember the phrase that Dorothy declares when she finally goes back to Kansas; ‘There is no place like home.’ I think I kind of understand the meaning behind it. I can see the logic behind it. However, I cannot help but feeling that for me ‘home’ is the world. It’s not just one place, home is for me every single country, city or landscape in which I left a piece of my heart. Home is for me the combination of all these places and all the people that I left behind. I think that is why I love traveling. I feel that there are still so many places that I want to make my own. So many places that will enrich my soul.
Australia is part of me and my home because that is where I truly understood what freedom is. It is where I discovered sides of my personality that I didn’t even know they existed. I will always cherish my life in Australia. It is where I realized for the first time the extension of my strength and where I met some of the most important people of my life.
Equally, my home is New Zealand because that’s where I felt the most a heart-wrenching connection with Nature. I will never forget my journey through the forest after nightfall. The descent into a maze of giant trees towering over me, feeling the rain lightly touching my skin, kissing my face. And then, the sound of the Maori guides chanting and praying, singing to the forest, gently lifting my soul. There is no place like New Zealand.
My home is Japan because that is where I finally saw the beauty of its mesmerizing complexities. That is where, in a place where foreigners feel eternally outsiders no matter how many years they live there or regardless of their mastering of the mind-numbing language, I felt an overwhelming sense of fraternity. I will never forget my host family in Abashiri, Hokkaido.
My home is Europe because that is where I grew up. It is where I sense, more than ever, a strong connection with history of all kinds; the arts, the literature, the one collecting the events of all our nations. I love being in Europe. I love the fact that it is a collection of states which hold their own cultural baggage and traditions and yet it feels like we’re part of one big country.
The more I travel, the more a feel privileged to have the opportunity to really see the world. It is not about the fancy hotels or restaurants, having long journeys or short trips to escape reality. Traveling is for me a way of happiness.