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A tourist in your own town

A lot of things we don’t realize are completely in our control (much like a lot of what we get worked up over is totally out of our control.) And the excitement and curiosity of feeling like a tourist is another of those things.

Unless you’re in your home, you can’t possibly know everything about a place (even then, ever wondered around the attic or under the house?). So doesn’t that make you a tourist in your own town? Isn’t a tourist ‘Someone visiting temporarily, looking to meet and experience new people, places and things’?

I’ve stayed for long periods in a few cities in America, Canada, Italy and Israel. But some of my favourite times being based in those places was when I visited another city close by. Exploring LA or flying up to Portland when I lived in San Diego, Montreal while staying in Ottawa or to the Ligurian Coast in Italy when I was living 2 hours north (in Parma). But I didn’t even need to go that far.

We have a tendency to look in the distance. What’s far, what’s coming, what’s different, what’s next… When there are real experiences happening right now in front of us. We don’t need to travel far to experience new things. Being a tourist is all in our mind.

I miss living in Europe and being able to fly supercheap to watch a football game in Barcelona or hang out on the beach in Portugal or drive to Slovakia to watch a professional hockey game. The amount of different cultures over a short distance is what makes Europe so interesting.

America’s not too different though, but in a different way.

I get why a lot of Americans don’t get passports. Say if you live in Chicago, if you travel to New Orleans, to Texas, then to Colorado, then to Portland or Seattle, then down to southern California, and back across to New York, it’s like you’ve been in six different countries. The people, places, nature, and attitudes from coast-to-coast in the US are worlds apart.

Though Australia’s pretty much physically as big as the US, we just don’t have those differences here (it’s why so many Aussies do get passports). But it’s all in my, and your, mind. Even if you’ve lived in a city your whole life, you can’t possibly know everything about it. New places open and old things change all the time. Whether you’re 10 minutes or 10 timezones away from home, you’re still a tourist.