All of a sudden you suffer a heaviness of the heart, concentration loss and a mild delirium that flings you to places visited and destinations for which only imagination is a source.
The twin forces of nostalgia and forward optimism combine to flash images of distant lands, miles of asphalt under wheels, friendly faces speaking in foreign tongues, desert, forest and vast oceans.
This illness will long lie dormant before these symptom show. It latched itself on to your person through pin-dotted sheets of paper, crisp albums of far-flung continents and experiences, and scrapbooks of expired airline tickets.
There is no known cure; it will stay with you for life. But the best treatment is to feed the bug’s desire, transferring the visions from mind to act. Prescriptions are filled at travel agencies and on websites dotted with city lists. Then, for a few weeks or perhaps a few months, you feel better as you give in to the desires.
Relief comes instantly, albeit in different ways depending on the patient. A hitherto lost happiness emanates from the satisfaction of seeing a new natural wonder, losing oneself in a sprawling metropolis, forging new and unusual friendships, or perhaps even in securing greater bragging rights against those you’ve left behind (though for this last result a cranial suppository is often necessary).
To submit to the illness’ desires bring temporary relief, but will also make your foe stronger; having now secured new memories on which to feed and distract, its attacks will be ever harder to ignore. A well-developed patient can thus spend decades saving up their cash for the chance to undergo another bout of therapy. There are the occasional quick fixes, too: journeys along sprawling freeways to country highway and great preserved wilderness less than a days’ drive away.
Some of those possessing greater courage than the ordinary sufferer will abandon all other pretence of stationary life and spend their life on the track, effectively establishing a near-cure. Others, still, their hair greyed from a life well toiled, will wait until retirement before taking up the nomadic lifestyle on the road or in a cabin on the sea, journeying until physical frailty traps them once again in their memories.
This author possesses all the traits of wanderlust, and will share with you all that can be done to satiate the cravings brought on by this nefarious disease. But one thing is certain; prepare to share the rest of your life with it, because unlike you, it won’t be leaving.