1. The awakening
First, it starts with a mind-numbing boredom that seeps into your life like an insidious toxin, until one day you realize you’re sitting in front of the TV watching 45 minute-long infomercials about Ab-Blasters and Flowbees. “What is the point of life?” You hear yourself say out loud. This is the dawn of your awakening; the first niggle of dissatisfaction and an early symptom of the travel bug.
2. The unavoidable discontent
You go to work and the traffic seems thicker and more aggressive than usual. You’re so over this road, these cars, this weather. You notice the faces of other commuters: tired, dazed, absent. “What’s wrong with these people?” you wonder, but then you catch sight of your own face in the mirror and it’s just as pale and dead as all the others.
3. The inspiration
Somebody at your work announces they’re quitting. “I’m going to live in London for a year,” she says, her cheeks flushing with excitement. “Fuck you,” you say quietly under your breath while smiling and congratulating her. You sit at your desk, open your email and notice a sidebar ad with a cheery message: Travel is cheaper than you think!
4. The first action
You check over your shoulder before clicking the ad. Pictures of exotic locations reflect a kaleidoscope of colors around your gray cube. You choose a destination, a continent you’ve always been fascinated by. The search engine forces you to select a date. An actual date? Oh well, you’re only playing, so you pick a date two months from now, returning in twelve months time. You discover that—wow!—the prices are, in fact, cheaper than you thought. You’ve got plenty in your savings fund, which you’d planned to spend on a bigger TV, but …
5. The out-of-body experience
You notice the cursor moving towards *Book Flight* as though manned by a Ouija Board spirit. Your fingers are entering details, name, address, phone … This is a confirmation screen. By clicking ‘Proceed’ you are committing to fly on these dates and … *CLICK*
6. The panic
Oh no—what just happened … ? You’re going to Asia in two months for a whole year? What have you done? What will your mother say? You’re so unprepared: are you supposed to take a backpack, or a rolling suitcase? You don’t know because you’ve never travelled AND YOU’RE GOING TO GET KILLED BY EXOTIC ANIMALS OR CRAZY FOREIGNERS OR SOME SORT OF BIZARRE, HORRIFYING DISEASE!! WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE!
7. The tranquility
It hits you: you’re going to Asia! Rickshaws, street vendors, foreign spices, tropical weather. You’re getting out of this place! You’re doing something incredible! This is what your life is about, you realize, this is what you’ve been missing: experience, exploring, adventure, risk. Maybe you’ll meet someone amazing? Somebody adventurous, like you? Your cheeks flush; you feel awake, truly awake. A giant, heavy burden lifts and you’re smiling now because you know that you’ve tricked the system. You’re breaking out of the matrix. All you had to do was click and now … you’re free.
Torre DeRoche is the author of two travel memoirs, Love with a Chance of Drowning (2013) and The Worrier’s Guide to the End of the World (due out September 2017). She has written for The Atlantic, The Guardian Travel, The Sydney Morning Herald, Emirates, and two Lonely Planet anthologies.