I realized I had yet to muse far enough into my confession as a travelist. I think whether or not you identify solely as a traveler or a tourist or as an amalgamation of the two, you do so because of what is important in your life. You choose how you relate to the global culture and in doing so, how you are condensing your world.
It’s valuable to note that in speaking of cultural exchange and the travel experience itself, I’m not specifying an international trip. Cultures can vary between neighborhoods within cities. As I’ve travelled, I have gradually noticed the distinctions I look for in getting to know place. These five things define a culture to me and when I travel I actively search for them.
#1: The Reverence of Time
Despite being a native Pacific Northwesterner, I’m very vocal about my
hatred dislike of Seattle and even more so, Portland. People move too fast. In their days and in their lives. I grew up in a small town, so I’m probably naturally adverse to the pace of a city, but there’s an incredible sense of urgency to be first. It’s a need and a desire that I don’t share. The need to be considered uniquely homogenized into the status quo that seems to permeate their lives lacks relevance for me.
I’m a wanderer with an amazing talent to meander, so I like a city that allows me this luxury without making me feel like I’m about to be swallowed by a mob of eager hipsters. Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, LA. Seriously. LA. Outside of the times I had to drive on the freeway, it was Smalltown, USA. Friendly, welcoming, a willingness to be shared rather than closing itself off to only the permanent inhabitants.
How a culture chooses to spend their alloted 24 hours each day impacts my desire to spend that time with them. The more focus on money, the less I am endeared. I much rather enjoy a culture who works hard for enough to pay the bills and support their lives, but always with a little leftover to pay for their passions. Once that work is done, they spend the remainder of their day experiencing their own communities – being present in the time and place.