„Wanderlust“ – Camping in the Backyard

„Wanderlust“ does not encompass the feeling in my spirit when I think of traveling the globe and exploring different corners of this vast world. Throughout college and graduate school, I dreamt of flying to far off places. While some people dread airports, I feel a thrill of excitement pulse through me anytime I imagine the buzzing energy of the terminal. Everyone is going somewhere, and I am going with them, I think to myself every time I take off my shoes going through security. No matter how many times I flip open that passport, it never gets old.

As an Atlanta native, most destinations are accessible to me given an international airport is right next door. And as avid blogger and aspiring novelist, I know research is seventy percent of any project. After all, write what you know, right? Imagine my slight disappointment at traveling to another state in the southeast. No planes, no exciting lines for boarding, just me and my 2001 Nissan. I took a few days off and traveled to the mountains of Tennessee in hopes of researching my first novel. A solid first draft was in the works, but I just needed more. I needed to see it with my own eyes before I could write it.

As I unpacked my small duffel in Chattanooga, I was reminded this was nothing like my previous travels. This was no ten-day trip through Europe, this was no adventure to Florence, or even a weekend in New York City. This was like camping in my backyard. I was going through the motions of travel, but not really going anywhere. Or so I thought.

Words can’t quite describe the swell of pride one feels when exploring their hometowns, states, or country. As much beauty as I have seen overseas and across varying landscapes, I was reminded of the amazing craftsmanship of my own backyard. The mountains, valleys, and bubbling rivers spoke to a piece of my wandering spirit I never knew existed. Even the air smelled different! My entire adult life, I truly believed I needed to leave in order to explore something new, or to grow as a person. I never imagined that staying could be just as powerful. I learned that camping in your own backyard can be incredibly rewarding if you go with an open mind and heart.

Travel is not a destination, it is not the distance you are from home or your means of transportation. It is a mindset; a way of connecting to people, places and cultures. It is the simple desire to explore. It is wanderlust.