Travel isn’t always pretty. It ain’t always easy. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain for those fitting words. And thank you, every blogger who has ever used his quote to justify…something.
As I write this, I’m a hot mess. Or rather, a pretty cold mess. It’s 1:07am, and I am sitting on a picnic bench outside of a 24/7 Maverik gas station in St. George, UT. It’s spring break for some, and as a result, all of the surrounding hotels/motels/inns are full. It’s way too late to look for a Couchsurfing host, I’m exhausted and all I want to do is take a nap.
But I can’t nap, unless I try to fall asleep on the few patches of grass I passed, but who knows if those are soaking wet with animal droppings? I guess my clothes are washable…if I get desperate enough. But I’m not there quite yet. I know my ride will be here in a few hours and I’ll sleep then.
Part of me is secretly hoping that one of the cars that pull up will offer me a place to sleep. I highly doubt it. If the roles were reversed, would I offer my couch to a random stranger? I mean, I AM wearing a Disney sweatshirt. To quote Gabriel Iglesias, “you can’t be hard AND colorful!” Seriously, I don’t think I look like a threat.
I took a shuttle from Salt Lake City right after work, and spent 5ish hours crammed like a sardine in a large commuter van full of dudes. It’s cool: I watched Fast Five for a bit to get my “bro on.” I didn’t have a lot of room to stretch my legs and I can still feel it. And if the guy I was sitting next to was single, we might be dating now, based on how much we were unintentionally and unapologetically in each other’s personal space. Looking back, I’m so grateful that he doesn’t stink.
We have to remember that travel isn’t always as glamorous as it seems on social media. Sure, I could walk a block from where I am now to a neon sign or random piece of artwork in town, apply a couple of filters and choice quote, and then boom. My newest Instagram contribution makes it appear that I am having the time of my life, tearing the town up, showing how “lit” my life is at that very moment.
When in reality, I’m pretty cold, hungry, exhausted, and have taken refuge in a gas station next to the window, typing to try and stay awake. I can see my reflection in the window and I want to cry, but know that it won’t change a thing. I’m trying very hard to appreciate this moment, but it’s difficult for obvious reasons. Travel isn’t pretty, right?
And you know what?
It’s okay. I’m breathing. These are first-world problems and I need no pity. I’ve been in harrier situations before: I’ll make it through the night and finally be able to sleep in my own bed soon. I’ve learned that moments like this teach me to appreciate the actual Instagram-worthy moments, and to recognize that sometimes it really is the journey that means more.