A Traveler’s Afflictions

Readers, it’s time I reveal to you a couple of serious medical afflictions that I have which heavily impact my daily life. It’s been a little while coming with the diagnoses, but I think I’ve finally got everything nailed down. I realize I suffer from the following things:

Itchy Feet & Restless Legs

I suffer from the inability to stay in one place for too long, both literally and figuratively.

Some of my happiest times are when I’m in motion – on a train, on a bus, walking (that’s a big one), progressing through, well, just about anything. Airports have long been one of my favourite places; it’s all excitement. People are coming and going, and at any moment you’re in the same spot as people from all over the world. You’re gearing up for a time that you’ll probably be relying on only what you’ve been able to pack in your bag. I find it thrilling. I also find it thrilling to be in a new place. To get to know a place on foot. To “make it through” a series of travel connections to get to where you’re going.

itchy feet

Due to both economic circumstances and my personal preferences, I’ve spent the last little while with my thumb in many different pies, so to speak, and my feet in a few different places. I teach. I write. I travel. I work with Air Cadets. I take off, then I come home. I come home for awhile, then I take off again. I measure amounts of money by the number of plane tickets (usually to Italy) it can buy.

I have begun to plan work around my desire to travel. I only look for contract jobs with firm end dates, at which point I can reevaluate everything. At times I despise this, but I really can’t bring myself to work any other way at this point, because I hate to feel stuck, to feel stagnate. Talking with friends, I realize that part of this is just a being-in-your-20s thing, and maybe part of it is being a Gemini thing, and maybe part of it is just being Sarah. But since I don’t want to end up like this guy, I follow my restless legs and itchy feel when they tell me it’s time to get a move on.

restless leg

What they don’t tell you though, is along with itchy feet and restless legs comes the torment of the conflicted head and heart.

Conflicted Head, Conflicted Hearttravel-heart

To travel is a compulsion for me.

We’ve established that. And while my feet and legs are always gleefully, thoughtlessly happy when they’re moving, my head and my heart are not. Once all the excitement of the coming and going, packing and unpacking, taking off and landing has subsided, I often start to get a little niggling, nagging feeling somewhere north of my belly and south of my neck. This feeling then manifests itself in thoughts and questions, making my inner conversation, which usually happens on the plane, go something like this:

What if this plane crashes and you never see your family again?  You are not afraid of flying. (I’m actually not.) You know that statistically air travel is safer than car travel. Ask the flight attendant for a drink and go to sleep.

What if something happens to someone you love while you’re away? You staying at home is not going to ensure that nothing terrible happens to your loved ones. If something happens you fly home and deal with it. Something could just as easily happen while you’re sitting on the couch in Canada, miserable. Seriously, have a drink.

But if something does happen to someone, you’ve missed out on precious time because of your terrible compulsion to move around.  You know in the long run this will make you happier than sitting at home, sucking your thumb, waiting for something terrible to befall you or someone you love. Knock it off. Where’s that drink?

Then, the kicker.

Why do you have to be like this? What’s so wrong with home, with Canada, with your family, your friends, your life? Don’t you appreciate all that you have? What about a permanent job, your career, a house? You’ll never have these things if you keep jumping around.  Now look at you, alone in an airplane with all your questions and worries. Not the joy you expected,is it? Why must you leave all the time?

And after a few minutes of quiet reflection, something fierce inside me replies:

Because I can. Because I’m not hurting anybody by doing what I want, maybe only by not doing what I want. Because I’m brave enough to actually listen to my heart and do what it tells me, not what society or other people think I should do. Because I know myself. I know that opportunities to be in the wind become fewer and fewer as I get older. Because I know I’ll regret not going when I had the chance. Because I don’t want to wait for other people to be ready to join me. They may never be ready. I don’t want to wait forever. I’m ok on my own.

And although there’s no place like home, home isn’t always where you’re meant to be. I will always have a home to go home to, because my family loves me. And they will still love me even if I’m not physically with them. They love me so much that all they want is my happiness, and if my happiness takes me elsewhere, then so be it. (Family, please correct me if I’m wrong!)

Because the world is there to be discovered, to be experienced, to be “lived”. Because I can push these worries out of my head and live my life in spite of them. Not because they become lessened, but because life will never be without worry.

So go, and be at peace with it, I tell myself.

travelling heart

True North Strong And Free

Happy Canada Day!

canadian mittens

This is the 5th Canada Day in my life that I’ve celebrated outside of our glorious country, but that doesn’t mean I’m feeling the national pride any less. I’m actually celebrating in one of the nations that helped give birth to Canada (France), so I feel slightly closer to home than I would in say, Zimbabwe. 

Here’s something you need to know about me: I’m terribly patriotic. I wrote an initial post entitled  True Patriot Love about the love and pride I feel for my country when I celebrated Canada Day in Italy a couple years ago. And while we all know that Italy holds a special place in my heart, let there be no doubt that this heart of mine is, and will always be, shaped like a maple leaf. 

bar canada

There are a million reasons to be proud to be Canadian, but I’d like to list a few things that come to mind when we talk about what makes me proud to be Canadian when I’m out in the world: 

1. Our reputation. The simple fact that we are Canadian makes us friends wherever we go. Our Canadian passports open more doors for us than, I’d say, almost any other passport in the world. 

canadian passport

2. Imitation. Someone terribly smart once said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So thank you to all those wannabe Canadians who slap a red maple leaf on their backpacks and luggage and try to pass themselves off as one of us in the world. We know how great our country is, and we’re glad you recognize it too. 

backpack patch

3. Our worldview. I know I’m talking generally here, but Canadians are some of the most open-minded people of the Western world, and in my opinion, it’s a wonderful thing. We’re not too closed in on ourselves, not too judgemental, not too egoistic, and sometimes we’re overly apologetic.  

And although I’ve found that a lot of people I meet abroad don’t really have a clear picture of what it means to be Canadian, and not of other “similar” nationalities, it doesn’t matter. Because when I say I’m Canadian or Canadese or Canadienne, without fail, a smile spreads across their lips. And mine too.  

 This post is dedicated to my Grandpa, a world-traveller-extraordinaire, who, even before it was in vogue, taught me to wear a maple leaf wherever I travel, and to always be proud of my country. Thanks, Gramps. 

That's Gramps and I, in Germany. Notice the Canadian hat he's sporting.

 Gramps and I, in Germany, July 2006. Notice the Canadian hat he’s sporting.

Published in Print!

Not Just Another "Dolce Vita"


Udite, udite! Hear ye, hear ye! I have an announcement to make:

On December 1st, I had my first articles published in print. IN PRINT! In black and white, on a page. In bianco e nero. And you know what? It feels pretty darn good!

I’m now an official contributor for Panoram Italia magazine, a Toronto and Montreal-based Italian-themed travel, lifestyle and everything else bi-monthly, beautiful, glossy magazine. My first pieces were published in the December/January issue, and I’ve already done some work for the February/March issue. I’ve even had a travel article idea approved for the April/May issue, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It gave me a very welcome sense of accomplishment soon after I made my debut as a disoccupata and it has also (in my humble opinion) brought me that much closer to my dream of becoming a published novelist.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve been writing elsewhere, follow this link to the current Toronto issue of Panoram Italia.  You’ll find me on pages 48, 52, 55 and 56. I’ve also added a permanent link to Panoram Italia on Not Just Another Dolce Vita’s sidebar for your reading pleasure.

As always, thanks for reading! Grazie di leggere!