The traveler

Sometimes when I am in the subway by myself, I feel cramped and suffocated. I don’t like looking at people around me because they instill a terrible fear in me. I fear that I will never find comfort within myself. I get sick thinking about how self-aware I am. I am constantly on the verge of crying on days that I feel like this. No one can help me. No one can understand me. My mother’s voice echoes through the telephone cord and I can barely hear myself as I try to swallow. She asks me what the matter is and it takes me a few seconds to pull it together and muffle something indistinguishable. My mother sighs patiently and says I should figure out what is wrong with me. I only say, I know mom, I know.
The past few weeks have been better. I spent a few days in Mexico, drank, ate and sunbathed in front of the ocean. I didn’t think of New York. I looked at the ocean and rejoiced in the new freedom I’d found. I remembered more of my Spanish and translated occasionally for my friends. I felt quite bonita since it is customary for men to remind you. My friend said she had never seen me happier. I thought of my childhood beach memories. I remembered why water made me happy. The three Canadian boys thought we were crazy. We told them we were just excited. We jumped out and ran towards the ocean in the dark when red flags were still out. One of the guys yelled, “are you sure this is a good idea?” We said, “sure it is.” The waves kept coming and we only laughed harder.
When we landed in JFK I wasn’t quite happy. The city was loud and I had not slept in 24 hours. I sat in a cab and closed my eyes until I got off at Penn Station to catch a bus home.
It seems to me now that I am always traveling, always on a bus, or a train. I have met so many people, so many strangers and I never forget their faces. It is better to travel than to sit somewhere and remind yourself of your troubles. At least, that’s why I do it. I temporarily run away from my problems and tell everyone else that it is for the experience, the joy of eating exotic food and European coffee. And it is always harder to return home, to return to my routines, to find myself again and take on the path that is always uncertain. Though traveling involves more uncertainty, there is always the excitement, but the daily life involves more responsibility, more thinking. If I could travel constantly, I might have picked that as my life. Sometimes, I rather just stay. Like right now, I almost rather stay here in London. But then again, who wants to start over? How many times can one start over? I don’t know what it is, but there is something in me that always wants a challenge, a different experience. I easily tire of one place and I find it hard to change my circumstances.
I never thought that I wouldn’t know what I wanted from life, but the truth is that I don’t. I am 23 and I have time, but I almost wish I knew right now what I wanted.

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