It all began when I first put real life on pause to just live, elsewhere. I took a break from the intensity of life back home -stuffed with people you must see and places where you must go- and it felt great. Without strings, obligations, responbilities or duties, I found an elsewhere where I could just be.
The new environment awoke my senses: suddenly I could see, hear and taste again, in the way children do when they experience things for the first time. Colours were brighter, people nicer and every little detail and every ordinary experience succeded in amazing me. I felt alive.
A new place is like a parallel universe where a different me awaits. She sleeps under a different sky, eats different food, hangs out with different people and becomes enthusiastic about different projects. Eventually, she will also speak a different language (and there is nothing that makes me prouder than hearing her stammering the first words).
Being away from home -or rather from whatever home used to mean to me- amplifies my receptiveness, my degree of permeability and integration with the world. Without anyone reminding me of who I used to be, I am free to reshape my own idea of myself, let different parts of me come to the surface and reshuffle my true colors like a kaleidoscope.
Every friend met on the road, as well as every place I have seen, becomes a new colored object tumbling inside my kaleidoscope. Every new colorful pattern that takes shape in it is an intriguing new way of seeing things.
Some colorful patterns are so fascinating that they deserve a longer period of observation. Several times I have had the urge to pause the kaleidoscope and contemplate, until that specific pattern became familiar.
There is always a moment when I think that that place will become my home, like a guy you honestly think you are going to marry. Except you don’t, because there is always a new place or a new adventure tempting me to step out from my comfort zone and try something new. After all, to see the magic in a kaleidoscope you must keep turning it.
I guess that as the essence of the kaleidoscope is in its rotation, so my traveller’s identity is forged by adding new colorful objects into the multi-faceted tube of what is me.
The best ones are those I don’t know about before, and that I discover when I see them resonating in a different culture. That’s how I fell in love with the Balkans. As I was getting into their lifestyle, I recognized hidden traits of me that turned out to be quite an important part of what I am now. There, I found something that harmonized with me more than any other lifestyle on offer in my homecountry.
Other times I’ve added a colorful object to my kaleidoscope by recognizing my weaknesses. Behind the cheesy postcard of a life of long-term travel, I’ve always met the frustration of misunderstandings, the challenge of starting a new life from scratch and the powerlessness in front of locals’ struggles. There is always a moment when I feel lost in a town that I don’t know, among people I can’t understand.
But the most fascinating thing I’ve seen in my kaleidoscope is that particular colorful pattern which makes me feel like a traveller in my hometown, highlighing hidden gems in the most familiar scenarios. This colorful pattern makes me see wonders in the smallest, unexpected details, and now I love my hometown for all its inhabitants that I haven’t met yet, all its corners I haven’t seen and all the infinite possibilities that are tumbling in the familiar surroundings, making it full of potential for discovery.
Now the only idea of belonging I’m comfortable with implies me feeling like a traveller in every place I’ve lived in, just as I feel at home when I need a map to navigate an unknown city.
Looking through my kaleidoscope I can now see the potential of astonishment in every single place, which is something I’ve learnt to do while I was on the road. Wherever I wake up, no place feels like home to me. Home is where my kaleidoscope is.