the love my love of travel brought me

Travel has taught me a lot about life as a whole, but, more specifically, travel has given me deep insight into my capabilities and weaknesses, privilege and biases, and global cultures. I've felt widened by travel. Perhaps, however, what travel has opened me up to most is love. 

Are you shocked by that?  No, of course you aren't. It's Valentine's Day after all, which means it's time for the yearly Valentine's Day essay. The one some people get teary-eyed over while others go cross-eyed reading. Firstly, on this day, I always share a piece about my favourite Valentine's Day and the gift I get teary-eyed over just thinking about-- the perfect night. I've updated that post with a pic {you're welcome world, I know you've been chomping at the bit}. After sharing said piece, I always write an essay. Dependable T, always. 

This year, I started writing and realized that, without meaning to, I was writing about platonic love. I felt really excited by that because platonic love seems unofficially deemed less important than romantic love. But I think both make life worth living. Both are significant and both can be life-changing. 

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Just to be clear, I'm talking about friendships and soulmate-ships and relationships that you'd set fires for. That you'd board international flights for, time and time again. In these kinds of relationships, you divulge all secrets, tease endlessly, protect fiercely, and forego all prejudices. There are no real boundaries. There is real love. Those kinds of friendships are hard to find. 

But if you do manage to find them, as I have somehow managed, you have made an unspoken agreement with the Universe to not mess it up. You really are obligated to love the hell outta them. Because in getting a treasured few of those kinds of people who actually add to your life, you have won the lottery of life by finding unconditional love and acceptance in a world that can be both unloving and unaccepting. 

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When I started to travel as an adult, I found these kind of profound relationships. Romantic and fully platonic. And they changed my life, fully. And travel gets the credit for bringing those kind of relationships into my world. If it weren't for my love of travel, I would have never gotten on a plane to a tiny island at the bottom of the world and made these connections. I would have missed out on a kind of love I didn't know I was capable of. Through my people accepting my mistakes, I learned what it was to be fully loved and unjudged. Through my people encouraging my ideas, supporting my endeavours, and cheering me on, particularly in times when I felt exhausted by my ambitions or emotions, I learned that I'm lovable no matter how much space I take up. That I have an army standing next to me. I learned how to empower the people I love and be present in those relationships.

Travel brought them to me, and I'll always owe travel for that. 

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The most important lesson about love that travel taught me was that love can feel more like home than anywhere you've ever been.

That the feeling you get when you and your people are eating hot chips off of paper on the beach on a stunner of a day while ocean waves crash behind you can be home more than your physical location. That wrapping your legs around someone as they envelop you in a hug can be as home as the house you lived in longest. You can be in an AirBnB with the person you love after losing your luggage and getting your credit card swallowed by an ATM and still feel completely at home.  Even in times when everything is a bit foreign, love has you grounded and friendships becomes your due North. 

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My heart lies scattered in little and big pieces around the world. Rooted in New Zealand, a sprinkle in Montana, a chunk in Laos, a blob in England, a dash in South Carolina, and little bits in between. Traveling brought me people to love and people who love me back in equal reciprocation, which is a remarkable thing which I'm failing at articulating in the correct way. Travel brought a love into my life that, in its own special way, taught me how to be better at loving. 

Here's to Valentine's Day. We shouldn't need a specific day to tell people we love them, but let's make use of it anyway, okay? All our people. Whether we kiss them or not. And, hey, if you have a guitar on you, strum it. For me, yeah? 

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Here's a little video from my most recent time with the loves of my lives in the place my heart calls home. It doesn't cover time spent with Zac, Sam, Nicki, Hayley, Amy, Ryan, Emma, or Indie, but all those moments were beyond special as well. Especially my last day-- that was as magical as its ever been.