Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Backpacker's promise

We all do it.
We all meet amazing people. 
We all have big nights out and bond over beer, idiocy and usually some good dancing. 
We all spend days together in the sun, sharing secrets and passions for the world.
And we all leave- go our own ways. Find our own path to travel. Fulfill those dreams that brought us together in the first place.

But we all do one more thing before leaving. We make that promise. You know the one. The promise to see each other again sometime. Sometime soon or sometime later. Somewhere close or far.
"Oh im going to Amsterdam too!"
"Yeah you can come stay with me in my house in Austrailia. "
"I’ll totally fly up to your city’s festival in northern Norway in October!"
"Oh we both live in the states so we will see each other again, for sure."
or the ever present "I will see you again, man"
After all, we are travelers, and when you are on a travelers high, anything is possible. You could be anywhere at anytime it feels. So why not make that promise? Hold onto that hope that you will see those amazing people again?

How often do we come through on these promises? I’d like to bet that the answer is somewhere close to absolutely never. Now it is true that there is that rare occasion that out of all the people you meet you actually are able to find one again somewhere in the vast expanse of travel. The next country over in South America. On the beach in southeast Asia. Site seeing in Rome, paris or Prague. And when you meet up with a backpacking friend , whether you meet them for one night or worked at a hostel together for a month, complete insanity issues. It’s someone YOU KNOW. From Somewhere else! Of course we have to have an amazing night, and an amazing time. Not other options. And those times are the sweetest.

But then there are all those other promises. The ones that you never fulfill. The friends on facebook that you spend the first few weeks keeping up with and then they just become another name on your newsfeed until you can’t even remember where you met them. Those promises, those friendships, so strong and so encompassing  in the moment, that just fall away. Just memories of lost nights and hazy days? 
So, should we stop making the backpackers promise?

No way. That’s the paradox of the promise. Most of us know its not going to go through. Most of us know things change and in the grand scheme of things this one new friend doesn’t have that much influence over our future choices. But we still make them. Because we you meet amazing people like the ones when you travel, you don’t want to let that go. You want to hold onto that hope that you might meet again. That this is more than a 3 day friendship, or bromance. All of us backpackers are connected in a way that can’t be explained. So we will keep promising to come across each other again. Because we are all bonded. And from one traveler to the next, you need that friend, you want that friend.  So the next person you meet might not be the one you’d promised you would see again, but they will be just as amazing in their own way. So we promise to meet travelers again, as a whole. WE make the promise to move forward, to be friendly and to forge the most amazing intense short-term friendships and bonds of any people on earth. Until they end and the promise of another bond hangs in the air.

We make the promise because it’s how we tell them they meant something. These short relationships are significant, they are important, and even if we never actually meet again, im sum, they will be remembered for a lifetime. We make the promise because it’s the traveler’s thank you for the time you have spent, for investing in them. It’s a reminder that traveling friends are important. It’s encouragement to keep moving forward and making new friends, and putting your heart into these relationships no matter how short they will be in the literal since. Because in our minds they are going no where for a long time. They are representative of the love, openness, and amazingness of this community we have brought ourselves into.

So, fellow backpacker friend, I will always promise to try and see you again. Because these are ties and memories I don’t soon want to forget. And because there are values as a backpacker we should all carry.

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