I promise there is an actual Sacramento post to be written. I went to the California Railroad Museum, which was actually quite cool, and Old Sacramento, and the State Capitol grounds. I ate Indian food and made a new friend. But right now I am sitting in the Sacramento train station, sweating profusely, as I will be for the next two and a half hours (before another twenty on train), and morosely brooding about how much I don’t want to stop traveling.
Also thinking about how I have an unreasonable but insuppressible cringe reflex whenever I hear the words “so where are you from?”
Obviously, out in the “real world”, it’s kind of an idle question if you’re clearly traveling and no one gives a shit; I could categorically state I’m from fucking Siberia and it would be met with the same indifferent nod.
But in hostels, it’s kind of the go-to conversation starter, and I feel weird, because I think of my possible points of origin and they all feel like lies.
Do I say I’m from Florida, the state in which I never felt like home even when it was the only home I’d ever known? Or Seattle, the place I’ve never set foot in for more than a couple of days in my life?
Boston will always have the word home heart-tied to it, and maybe someday it’ll be home again in the real, but let’s face it, I’ve barely showed my face there in the last half-decade. My weirdly-beloved Milwaukee was never meant to be, and never was, more than a waypoint. DC was maybe the first place that ever felt like home, but it was never home either.
But the mumbled, stuttered “uh, I dunno, kind of everywhere, or nowhere?” feels equal parts true and fucking douchey. Like I’m not fucking Kerouac over here, and referring to myself as homeless is kind of insulting to all the people who actually are homeless, and not just a fucked-up woman-child avoiding the warm, safe nest(s) she has open to her because she hates being there like she hates being anywhere.
Then I feel like even more of an outlier, and not in the good ways, because Jesus, even in the weird, transient chaos of hostels, almost everybody knows where they’re from, and I’m just like… *shrug!*
Which absolutely does transition a lot of awkward introductions into actual conversations, and sometimes new friends, which is generally awesome, since my introvert self is kind of awful at that. And in a hostel, or on a long-distance train or whatever, even if I’m tired and sad and lonely and want to curl up into myself like a fucking roly-poly, I still honestly usually love those conversations, because they’re nearly always with somebody who is at least on some level a kindred spirit, who gets the wanderlust, at least, if not always the extent of it.
But at the same time, I am an introvert, and now I’ve got the knee-jerk deer-in-headlights uhhhhh reaction whenever somebody asks me where I’m from in the real world, in which I do not want to have those conversations. Let me give you my dollars and please give me my food or shampoo or socks and can we just smile pleasantly and not talk.
Before I sound like TOO much of a fuckhead, basically all those people are also super nice, genuinely interested, wish me luck and safety — like, exactly the kind of people I’d hope any traveler encounters.
But when you’re traveling on a very tight budget — ie, trains, hostels, friends — even with the most unbelievably awesome friends in the fucking WORLD — every time people ask “but how did you afford this?” I’m like “uhh my friends?” — you learn to carve out quiet corners, when you have fifteen minutes, or an hour — even a day —
— God, you just wanna slip through the cracks, be anonymous like everyone else. But you’re still the weirdo.