Many people, knowing me well (or having had a glimpse at my schedule the previous year), wished me "many travels" for 2012.
The year started a bit slow, with eight or so weeks in a row spent here in Germanland, fighting the cold and darkness with music, hot chocolate, and budding friendships. I enjoyed the homeliness of it, enjoyed anchoring myself in this place, making it mine as I had never taken the time to do it before.
Still, as early as mid-January, I was already starting to plan a few trips, and by the time the end of February came, with its few days in Paris and holiday in Rome, I was feeling antsy and more than ready to travel again.
Then somehow things precipitated.
At the end of March I was in London, via Paris once more. Two weeks later I was back in Paris, on a stopover to spending Easter with family in the South of France. Less than a week after I was back, I was out of the door again, heading this time to Munich, where I have spent the last three weeks (minus a weekend back here in the place I do laundry, cook dinner with and for friends, and can cast a vote in the French elections) visiting colleagues.
Munich was good, work-wise and after work. We had a few days of excellent weather that made the parks so much better; I got to see a friend who is living there for a year (and hang out with Brazilian law students at the same time), visit the zoo, see some modern art, walk around a city big enough to do so for hours without getting bored. I can't say I really love it, though, in spite of what the raging comments from my German lab mates, most of whom either grew up or studied there, could have let me expect. In spite of its long tradition of SPD mayors and high rate of inhabitants non affiliated with any religion, the capital of beer is also that of Bavaria, with its deeply ingrained conservatism, catholicism, and Bayrisch-speaking, Lederhose- or Dirndl-wearing patriotism; as a result it feels too clean, and the life that a hundred thousand students (walking in the path, for instance, of the White Rose movement) could give it just isn't... there.
I am back just long enough for a few loads of laundry, careful repacking, and a final say in the presidential run before boarding the plane that will take me back to America. This is a long awaited trip, one that I have imagined almost since the minute I left Los Angeles eighteen months ago, one that I have planned for months, and that I am so excited to take that I sometimes have a hard time falling asleep at night.
I will stay there three weeks, visiting first good old Southern California, then Boston, the Chicago area, D.C., and New York. (The traveling does not look optimal, especially the part where I head back West a thousand miles or so just a few days after flying from the West Coast to New England, but it had strong constraints. I don't think you could find a better solution.) I will see dear friends, good people, and places I have missed so much despite the unshakable confidence I have that they are not what I want for myself, long-term. I will do science, talk science, breathe science in great settings where to do so. I will mix the old and the new, as I discuss new projects, visit my current boss in the institute that is welcoming him for a few months, hang out with people I met in Germany, meet with collaborators I have gained since leaving the U.S. I will go to the beach, have a barbecue or three, go out dancing. I will walk the path down memory lane and make more memories as I so do, and I will love every single minute of it.
Then I'll be back, at the end of May, most likely with an aching smile on my face. And instead of cooling my heels off and incurring the risk of wallowing in the pain of leaving, once more, some amazing people thousands of miles behind me, I'll fly out to Barcelona for a week of friends, sun, and music at Primavera Sound.
I don't think it too daringly ambitious to claim that this is going to rock my socks.