World explorers, casual backpackers, and typical tourists alike often find themselves reminiscing over places past. Miniscule moments can spark déjà vu that quickly turns into fond memory at best, or, in my case, extreme nostalgia.
As of late, I have caught myself dreaming of cobblestone streets, yearning for full breakfasts with proper bacon, and craving the cold black cliffs that border the North Sea. When I think back to where I was last year, images of Wick and Edinburgh fill my mind and overcome my horizon. Even though I wasn’t always warm, or busy, or happy; I was content in Scotland. I was satisfied.
(And honestly, life was a lot simpler back then.)
It’s easy for travellers to muse over past adventures, but it’s incredibly difficult to fight the longing to go back. I took this longing one step further and committed the traveller’s faux pas—I went back.
As I discovered this summer, it’s impossible to go back.
Things will never be the same.
The hostel I stayed at again in Edinburgh hadn’t undergone any major changes in the 6 months since I had initially left. Even some of the backpackers I had met previously were still staying in the same rooms.
Nearly everything was identical. But my experiences weren’t.
If anything marks and colours a backpackers’ personal impression of a place, it is experience—the people, weather, activities, and appearance of the places you go. The sun shone on Edinburgh Castle in July, making it glow gold. It looked nothing like the dim, damp stone building I had experienced in the fall.
If anything, returning to Scotland only made me miss it more. The memories were fresh and suffocating, surrounding me—pouring salt on my wounds. I missed the people I had been with before. I saw the adventures I had undertaken everywhere around me. And it was so, so difficult, because even though everything was the same, I wasn’t.
I cannot express the importance of moving on. I longed for Australia uncontrollably for two years until I went back to Europe. Now I long for the UK, but regard my past experiences in Oz with a glossy smile. I still tell stories from my adventures in Australia, but reliving the past doesn’t fill me with regret. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling: closure.
Now I know not to bother trying to refuse the past its place. I’m trying to fix my eyes forward, keep dreaming, keep travelling, and move on.