I’ve recently been rebitten by the wanderlust bug. I’m feeling the itch to go. The problem? I dropped the ball, and now I’m just not sure who I am anymore.
A few days ago, I received an email alert that some international flights were going on sale for super cheap out of LAX. Northwest Arkansas now does a dirt-cheap direct to LAX, so immediately, my interest was piqued. I jumped online, and sure enough, I was finding some incredible flights into Berlin and Dublin for $55.
$55. For a one-way international flight.
The most economy of economy, but nothing a few glasses of on-flight wine can’t handle.
They had to be redeemed by the end of this month, but I was thinking that I had plenty of vacation days and I could make Dublin happen in a long weekend.
Then it dawned on me.
For the first time in my life, my passport is expired.
And my spirit, my whole entire soul, actually sank through the floor.
Here’s the thing. It isn’t just that my passport is currently expired, though my travel agent mother might be ashamed. It isn’t simply the kick-in-the-chin disappointment of realizing I can’t get a two-week turnaround on a passport renewal and won’t be able to take advantage of this sale (Lord knows there will be plenty more).
It’s that my whole life, my adult life as a wanderer, a self-proclaimed gypsy, has revolved around the notion that if I wanted to go somewhere, I’d simply pick up and go. For years, I’ve carried my passport on me, sitting in my wallet next to my driver’s license, just in case, just so that if I needed to escape, or an opportunity for spontaneity presented itself, my only excuse to stay home would be pure fear of doing it — but at least I couldn’t use being administratively restricted as a rationalization to skip out. The only thing that would stop me would be me, and I’d be forced to make a decision about myself, without blaming the law.
All of a sudden, though, here I was, credit card in hand, ready to make a move, cheeks flushed that I was finally going to do it again, forgetting that I let my passport expire because “I wasn’t going anywhere soon.”
Son of a bitch.
My spontaneity, for all the times I’ve written that it’s often mistaken for flightiness, is something in which I’ve always prided myself. Not renewing my passport on time, to me, is a signal of something much larger than mere laziness. For myself, it represents a part of me that I loved that I’ve sadly let settle into the shadows. What happened to the Tyler that kept that navy booklet on her at all time for a chance at an on-a-whim trip? It’s easy to look at it now and think of all of the places I should have gone, but unless I have some intention of actually doing it, it really doesn’t make sense to renew it. At some point, I have to take a hard look at the life I’ve chosen and decide if that portion of my life, the one in which I yearn to travel, is a realistic life, or if it’s something that, if it continues to linger without action, will leave me with nothing but remorse and sadness.
So what do you do? How do you reconcile being a corporate worker with a house and responsibilities and a routine, if not fairly mundane, day-to-day plan with being a plane-hopping, adventure-writing, free spirit with a suitcase and a smile?
Well, I don’t know. I honestly don’t. What I do know, though, is that, at thirty-three, I’m still unwilling to give up on the idea of glorious, unplanned travel. So my paperwork to renew my passport is filled out, my picture will be taken tomorrow morning, and the application will hit the U.S. postal Service tomorrow afternoon. The first step to righting this self-made wrong is in progress. The second step, God willing, is that it will be stamped much more in the future than it has in the last few years. I’ve wished, I’ve read up, I’ve made inspiration boards, I’ve researched, I’ve reserved, but I’ve never done. It’s exhausting, and I’m over it. At this stage in my life, I’m ready to say fuck the planning, and just start doing.
Plans are great, but plans without action are just bullshit.
(I think Voltaire said that. Or something.)