I was thinking about this question after Lan, a friend of mine in Vietnam, wrote this to me in an email:
This thing she describes has been a feeling that I've been thinking about ever since my experience in Sternschanze. Does travel — and more importantly, constant travel — imply a half-packed "mental suitcase?" I likely prefer slow travel for this very reason, but even signing my one-year contract in Vietnam, and then another, and then another, it still was under the presumption that eventually, though I didn't specifically know when, there would be an expiration date. An escape route. That this wasn't "real life" and whenever I got tired of it, I could leave. And I did. We all do. Travel necessitates that. Can you live thoroughly without that knowledge being in the back of your mind and informing every decision you make? I'm not sure.
And to take this a step further, is travel — I hate to say it — so tempting, so trendy because of this? I recently wrote an article for Matador Network talking about how social media/the internet is all turning us into sociopaths who expect instant gratification, and if we don't get it, we can leave. Exit the conversation. Ignore this person. Pack our virtual bags and spread our likes elsewhere.
Only with travel, we're packing our actual bags. We don't invest our true selves into a place because, well, why bother? Eventually, you skim the surface of a thousand places and you wind up with this feeling of leaving little tiny bits of yourself everywhere, to the point where maybe you can't invest your entire self in a place, and you never truly belong because of it. Maybe. Who knows?
Anyway. Not really news, just food for thought.