Post Traveller Blues

by M.J. Hearle

I’ve been back for nearly two weeks now and I’m still feeling a little glum. It’s to be expected. After spending a month travelling through Turkey and having new experiences every single day, re-adopting familiar routines is bound to be a little depressing. Still, I wasn’t expecting to feel this flat. Those first few nights of jetlag were particularly brutal, lying in bed staring into the darkness and examining subjects best left unexamined. The witching hour is no time for introspection.

What’s curious is I don’t actually like travelling very much. I enjoy sleeping in my own bed and resent having my comfort zone pushed. The ‘unfamiliar’ frightens me. During my holiday I was frequently tired, sick, sunburnt and anxious. I complained a lot. I missed Australia, my friends and family. I missed being able to work on my writing whenever I wanted. So why feel wistful for my time away?

It had been so long since I’d been on a holiday that I’d forgotten just how freeing it is. Mentally. Having my daily routine broken, being consistently challenged and forced to confront the strange and unusual was like doing strenuous exercise after spending far too long sitting on the couch. At first, my mind felt stressed and overworked, then it loosened up and I started experiencing the most amazing clarity of thought. Greta and I would be walking around say the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and my imagination would be firing like a catherine wheel. Short story ideas, plots for future novels, film and tv scripts hatched faster than I could write them down. It was the closest thing to creative euphoria I’ve felt in a long time.

This isn’t to say I wasn’t paying attention to the tour guides or learning as much as I could about Turkish culture – I was – this imagination explosion was just a surprisingly welcome side effect. Now, I’m back at my desk job dealing with the incumbent pressures and boredom, I’m feeling less inspired and hence, sadder. For an admitted non-traveller I miss my travelling self. He might have been a whinger but dammit he felt a lot more vital than my current incarnation.