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Carrie Neer
1y St. Louis, MO, United States Story
Here's to the Wanderers

Here's to the Wanderers of this world, the real travelers. Here's to those of us who go places and buy experiences instead of souvenirs. Here's to those of us who are more than just tourists with their cameras stuck to their faces. Here's to those of us who search for excitement, rather than searching for the nearest WiFi connection.Here's to those of us who were born curious and a little lost. 

I myself am a Wanderer, and if you are anything like me, you realized at a young age that you don't belong in one place. Although you may live in a house, you never truly feel like you have a home. Something in your soul longs for far off places and adventure. As a child you probably walked through forests and imagined castles in the distance, or maybe you walked down a river bank and pictured a waterfall waiting for you at the end. That's the hard thing about being a Wanderer. You can imagine the far off place being right in front of you, but imagining the place will only kill the hunger for so long. 

Once you get a little older, you finally get out. You hop on a plane or you get behind the wheel of a car, and you go. You see all the amazing things they show in the movies, you order all the food on the menu that you've never heard of, and you talk to strangers even though your mom told you not to. Then, at some point the night before you leave to go "home", you come to the sad realization that a part of your heart is staying behind when you leave. You leave a piece of your heart in every place you go. You will never be whole again. 

You can't heal a hole in your heart. You can only patch it, and that patch takes a long time. That's why it is so hard for people like you and me to just come back. Tourists come home, collapse on their couch, and post on Facebook about how good it is to be home. You and I hold back tears when the plane lands. We stand outside our houses and stare at the front door for five minutes, even though the bag on our shoulders weighs fifty pounds and the straps are ripping into our skin. We drop our things at the door, where they will stay packed for at least three more days, we lay down in the middle of the floor, and we try not to think about how hollow we feel. 

Wanderers are a little like junkies. The second we arrive home we start wondering when our next "high" will come. You spend the next several months chasing anything that can make you feel half as good as your last trip did. Sometimes you spend the rest of your life chasing it. I chase Scotland every single day of my life, always knowing that it is out of reach. And that is why the wanderers spend hours taping pictures to walls and pasting tickets into scrap books. We hide old maps in our books, we paint art dedicated to our travels, and we get souvenirs permanently etched onto our skin. We try to hang on to that feeling for as long as we can, in whatever way we can. It makes the hole in our bodies a little less painful. 

Although most others think we live a charmed life, they don't understand the never ending sense of longing. Our hearts ache for the places we may never see again, and the people who touched our lives even for the briefest of moments. 

So here's to the Wanderers, and the places we'll go. I hope you stay curious, and I hope you stay lost. 

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I'm a graduate student who hopes to someday run an exercise research lab at a university. I like to travel, eat good food, and yell at football players through my tv screen. My pug, Paisley Lou, is the light of my life.

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