“To travel is to live”

When people asked me over and over what I was going to do after I graduated, I said I was going to live in Madrid for a year. It’s funny, but I’ve only been here for a few days and that statement has never felt more real in its most basic meaning. I am here to live. To live. By this I mean I am simply here to be, to exist, to experience this world and myself in the most human way. I don’t know if it’s something about Spain or traveling in general, but it allows you to return to something you lost along the way, to go back to the most humble, curious version of yourself. No one knows who I am here, and in this way I can become new again. In this way I can shed my story, who I perceive myself to be, all the good and the bad, and project whatever remains outward.
I’m not saying I’m going to be a completely different person or that I’ve lost myself in any negative way; it’s more like I have the freedom to open myself up completely — there are no expectations, I do not feel the need to constantly perform or please or get ahead. I am not squeezed under the regimen of time. I speak less, take in more. I can walk down the street at a pace that looks a lot less like a city jog. I am not inundated with convenience and consumerism. Frustrations and stresses quickly coil away. I breathe deeper, wander often, begin without destination. I understand what really matters. I tell myself no less. I try everything. I taste all the flavors, hear all the sounds, feel everything as it passes through me. I look up more. There is so much sun, the sun is always with me. I stop and stare as it bursts magnificently and quietly through the leaves and tree branches, try to commit the image to memory. I smile at the classical music spilling onto the streets, even when it wakes me up in the morning. I watch abuelas chat with their neighbors as they wash down their terrazzas and think how lovely it may be to grow old like this. I hear and feel the word bonita so often this place, this life should be renamed it. I am always losing my breath, I am always losing my words, and feel only like I have gained back some of the things I have lost.
One of my favorite quotes is, “to travel is to live,” by Hans Christian Anderson. This is what he meant.
I know I will not always feel like this, but I hope that when the amazing becomes ordinary, it only means it is time to explore and find this feeling again.

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