Is it December already? Where did the year go? Surely when we were all wrapping up 2019, none of us thought that 2020 would turn out this way. I expected to see France in the spring and take a river cruise down the Nile in Egypt before jetting off to South Korea and Japan in the summer with yet unimagined adventures awaiting in the fall. Instead, I’ve barely left our apartment in months, much less the country. For those of us who live to wanderlust, the transition has been a difficult one. But I’ve found it’s given way to another kind of joy that I like to call wanderlull – the joy of staying home.
It took a long time to arrive at a feeling of wanderlull and to appreciate the time I’ve gotten to spend at home. Back in the spring, I was complaining to my therapist about how I could possibly get by when so much of my enjoyment in life – and to an extent, so much of my identity – comes from traveling. Our conversations turned from where I could travel safely to how to experience joy without being able to travel at all. After two separate months’ long lockdowns with restricted movement, I’ve had to learn to enjoy just being home.
It’s been years since I was able to enjoy time off without filling it with travel, and at first, I didn’t know what to do with myself. Should I just work more to pass the time? Do puzzles? Learn to bake bread? It made me feel restless and trapped. But eventually, I came around to appreciating my time going nowhere. With my newfound wanderlull mindset, I’ve come to see it as “being able to stay home” rather than “having to stay home.” So much so that the last month and a half of lockdown flew by and I didn’t even notice.
Sure, I haven’t been able to check any new countries off my bucket list since February. But I also haven’t had to get up at 4 am to make a 7 am flight. I didn’t have to rush out to get a Christmas tree two weeks before Christmas because I just got back from a trip. I haven’t had to deal with jet lag or a cold after 27 hours of flying. I haven’t had to argue with flight attendants about the weight of my bag or sit next to some stranger who is encroaching on my personal space on a trans-Atlantic flight. Travel, for all its wonders, is kind of aggravating. This year, I haven’t had any of that.
Instead, I’ve spent more time learning to cook, relaxing on the couch with my fiancée under our favorite blanket, reading, having outdoor picnics, catching up with some great TV shows (and some not-so-great ones), discovering parts of my city I’ve never seen, and yes… doing puzzles. I’ve begun taking great pleasure in doing absolutely nothing – that’s the essence of wanderlull. Instead of bemoaning the fact that I can’t be in Australia right now, I’ve redirected my emotional energy into appreciating the little things I enjoy about being home. If I’m being honest with myself, I rather not travel at all than have to subject myself to Covid testing before and after each flight, risk flight cancellations, and face unexpected restrictions at my intended destination. I rather wait to travel safely and comfortably when the pandemic improves than stubbornly suffer just to travel now.
You better believe that as soon as I’m vaccinated, I will be on the next flight to pretty much anywhere. But until then, I think I’ll spend my time watching our Christmas tree twinkle with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. It doesn’t cost a thing and it feels just as much like paradise as a beach in Costa Rica.