The Irresistible Call of the Road

Every traveler had to take that first step to get on the road, and for some it didn’t go quite as planned. The date was set; you’d have enough money saved by then, quit your job, straighten away your belongings, buy all the gear, and prepare the bike before the day came. You do your best to wait, try as hard as you can to stay sane while the tempting, irresistible call to hit the road screams at you every single minute of the day. Every line of reason to be patient that can be used, will be tried again and again against yourself. Then one day something inside snaps... Every single strand of caring about those plans falls away as you drop everything and go. Many of your friends and family are telling you “it’s a bad idea”, “it’s not that hard to wait a few more months”, “you’re not ready”, and, my personal favorite, “you’re absolutely crazy.” None of that matters because you know that this is who you are, this is what you need, and this is what’s about to happen despite being unprepared. It’s time to go.

Not many people understand what this feels like, but I do, and as travelers around the world are forced off of the road, I see all of them struggling to handle the cravings to get back on it. Though, if you don’t get how we feel, this is the analogy I use to explain it:

Say I really, REALLY love creamy peanut butter, damn near addicted to it, and I crave it every day. Nothing but creamy peanut butter will satisfy the need. Crunchy peanut butter does alright but isn’t quite the same, and soy peanut butter gives the illusion of helping but doesn’t really. Now change “peanut butter” to “the road”. Creamy peanut butter is on the road with plenty of time/money, crunchy peanut butter is time on the road with a duration limit (short on time/funds), and soy peanut butter is going for a ride around the block while being stationary.

As someone afflicted with that need to move, to be free, and willing to sacrifice anything to have it - forced time off of the road is almost, literally, excruciating to handle. We have the same reaction to “you’ll be back on the road soon, it’s alright” as a stark raving, pissed off person reacts to “calm down”. The road teaches you to live in the moment, to be present at all times and being told you’ll be happy tomorrow, does literally nothing to help. You‘re incapable of living in the past or the present to escape the misery, so some day is an eternity away.... Until you’re on the road again, anyway.

“You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” - Harvey Dent from The Dark Knight

As someone who lives, breathes, embraces, and preaches the road, you sometimes meet other people who idolize this life. You get compliments for shedding the restraints of society and making a unique life for yourself, tailored to truly being happy. Brave, courageous, admirable, rebellious, outlaw, strong, crazy. We’re recognized and revered for the insanity we have to live so far outside the bounds of normal society... And then a pandemic strikes the world. For everything we were once idolized for, now makes us villains. We exist on the outskirts of society and take care of ourselves, with not a word of “what about society” when we hit the road. Now everyone expects us, at the snap of fingers, to give up the only thing that keeps us emotionally, spiritually, and physically happy for the sake of a society that didn’t treat us right from the get go because we never could fit in. We do our best to adapt as long as we can, but I suspect that some travelers have moved towards secretly moving about. Even for myself, the road is where I go to cope with stress, deal with my problems, it is simply my home as I shed the confines of a brick and sticks structure over three years ago. But now it’s not okay? This is a feeling of lost and confused no amount of staring at a map can fix.

Most of my life, I always felt like I was missing something. I was broken, never fit in, never wanted what society told me would make me happy, and I longed for SOMETHING. Then the road came along and I found what I needed that filled that hole. Now I seek to find people like myself who understand how I feel, and maybe to help them, with my writing, to better explain to their loved ones the inner workings of their soul. With this article hopefully I either explained to you what a traveler feels or stroked a heart string of familiarity and community.

Peanut butter is my thing and nothing else can replace it.