Have you ever been to a place that instantly made you feel like you’d just plunged into a void that swirled with colours you could not name, that spun faster and faster around you, until you couldn’t separate yourself from the ground you stood upon and colour of the sunset on the horizon?
Travel does that to you sometimes – oftener than that, if you’re really, really lucky. And me, I live for those times. Whether it’s the murky green sunlight at the crack of dawn through a forest, or a flickering streetlight at four minutes to midnight – losing myself in a distant place, miles away from home is the ultimate rush.
It’s almost ludicrous really, the concept of travelling to find oneself. We see it depicted in Hollywood films like Eat, Pray, Love, we read about it in Jack Kerouak’s inspiring novels, we dream about it when we go on that #lifegoals charged Tumblr page filled with dreamscapes and stories of people who live freely.
The way I see it, with every soul splitting smile from a stranger who doesn’t even know the colour of my eyes, with every magnified drop of rain on French windows in rural India, with every swirl of dust and grain of sand, I lose myself. I lose myself in the moment and think of little else and there’s nothing else I’d rather do, than to stand there and take it in, like a human sponge. If losing myself feels like this, I’d never want to be found.
The magic of those places, it lingers in your suitcase, your pockets, your hair… It glues your feet together, makes leaving absolutely unbearable – but that’s the beauty of it. On a bitterly cold night halfway in a desert, my closest friend and I spoke about longing, and how it worked in strange ways. “The pull of a place,” she said, “lies in the fact that we know that we’re going to have to leave some day.”
And that’s when it hit me: the enchantment, in part, is because you are filled with a sense of childlike wonder at every single thing you see. And so, in order not to let it trickle out of your grasp, you must leave before the magic becomes mundane.
You must find cities that feel like home, but never stay long enough for them to actually become home.
So find your magic. Travel to a city that comes alive at midnight, and find your magic in the single empty cafe on a crowded street. Travel to a city that smells like warm puddings and blueberries and the cologne your first love used to wear, and find your magic in the accidentally taken out-of-focus photo of a strange girl with purple hair. Travel to a city that tastes like sea salt and sunshine and moist earth, and find your magic in the single dried flower that you pressed in your book (and take your time to wonder what made you read Tennyson that night.) Travel to a city that’s all cracked windows and thin children with large eyes, broken teacups and skeleton trees, and find your magic in the shiny piece of glass the little boy from the blue house pressed, magpie like, into your palm. Find your magic, and then save it up to warm your soul on all those days when crawling out of bed is harder than you can put into words.
And sometimes, when you don’t have to reach inside for it, the magic will spill out suddenly and you’ll have had another perfect day.
Tanvi Deshmukh is a nineteen year old girl from Pune, India, with an affinity for words and books, cats and coffee, Nepalese food and hippie music, and the colour green (along with Oxford commas). Currently pursuing her undergraduate degree in English, she loves poetry, volunteers at an NGO and plays the keyboard in her free time. Along with devouring books of all kinds, unless of course, she’s in the middle of heated discussions on feminism, patriarchy, gay rights, or what to name the neighbour’s new dog.