And it’s not just that my computer’s been stressing out and spinning that color pinwheel in endless stuttering frustration.
It wasn’t that I traveled with friends or that I didn’t leave the US. It wasn’t that I went to a crusty music festival, or that I lounged in a private Hawaiian villa, or even that I slept till noon and stayed out till 4am chasing boys in a leopard print miniskirt (successful method, btw).
It was that I never made the switch, flipped my brain over into traveler mode. I didn’t push myself to explore, to dig in, to muck around and get dirty in the soul of a destination (no, getting covered in other people’s beer and sweat didn’t count).
It wasn’t that I was a “tourist instead of a traveler”—I was worse. I was a vacationer.
If tourists are the people following around umbrella-wielding tour guides, clicking shutters and buying cheesy trinkets and (sin of all sins) wearing fanny packs, vacationers are their drooling, sedated counterparts. We could really care less about whether a tour is culturally authentic or not; we don’t have the energy to get off our asses and go in the first place. We go to the same cafe over and over, buy the same sandwich, because it’s good and why bother finding another spot? We spend an hour staring into space. It there were a Sitting and Staring Olympics instead of a half-Ironman while I was in Hawaii, I would have won. (I have photographs that document my decent, but I’m currently not even able to upload anything onto my computer.)
I haven’t vacationed in years, maybe not ever, really—guiltlessly wasting days away. No notes taken, no itineraries feverishly followed, no long rambles down alien streets. So it wasn’t just that I barely wrote any posts while I was gone—it was that I wasn’t even traveling.
I had fun, and I certainly still have stories to tell. And while I “got away from it all” (really, people are on to something with this whole vacationing thing), I didn’t get away from myself. I talked a couple months ago about how I like who I am better when I travel, how I become what feels like a better version of myself, freer and happier and more at peace, enthralled with my surroundings instead of the hamster wheel of self-will. And while I was certainly a more relaxed version of myself these last 11 days, I was still Home Me, not Traveler Me.
So that’s what my brain will be chewing on while my laptop’s in the shop—or rather, what my brain won’t be chewing on. Not articles or blog posts and pitches—just the image of what I stared at along the Kona coast, what’s burned into my retina, like the pink is onto my skin: a hammock, a horizon and a pile of black rocks. I’ll take my computer crashing as a sign, a circumstantial nudging that I need to take a step back and keep on being a bad travel writer.