We’ve all seen that inspirational travel poster.
There’s a fit-looking woman or a fit-looking man, sitting or climbing, and overlooking a beach, a mountain, a city, an experience. Then, in a legible, cursive font and enthusiastic colors, it reads: “I’ve left my heart in so many places.”
This image full of longing inspires wanderlust in the wanderlustiest among us as well as the ones whose passports are collecting dust next to the bank statements and birth certificates. There’s a beauty about it – about leaving a piece of your heart somewhere, like some sort of romantic Horcrux, that makes us all want to jump on a plane.
From someone whose heart currently resides in four places, let me explain something to you…there’s more to this quote than you think. JK Rowling was onto something when she wrote that creating Horcruxes makes you simultaneously weaker and stronger. Having experiences that divide your heart consistently makes you feel like a more fulfilled person, however, a person who is never entirely whole. You can distract yourself from it, jump in head-first to the place where you currently reside, but somewhere, deep down, part of you is sitting by a canal at nighttime in Venice, scrawling desperate poetry into a leather-bound journal you bought in St. Mark’s Square.
Part of you is laughing as your boyfriend hugs you in the streets of Barcelona, racing each other to your favorite restaurant. Part of you is beaming while telling your mom all of your adventures in the last booth at your forever girl’s day spot. And part of you is sitting in the middle of Harvard Yard, wondering just how far you can push your intelligence, just how much you can work yourself into the impenetrable, unchangeable walls of Widener library.
It took me twenty-four years to leave my heart in four places and I’m sure the number of my travel Horcruxes will grow as I do. There’s a sort of innocence and vulnerability about each of them, a knowledge that part of you sparkled there and will sparkle there again. If I can share any advice about traveling, it’s to leave your heart as many places as you can but knowing that this is often an unconscious act, one that happens before you know it’s happened, and, that once you leave a piece of your heart abroad, you can’t take it back with you. It is there forever, tossed into the eternal fountain, beating among the other pieces, left there just the same.