It’s barely 8am and the sun is drying out the puddles from yesterday’s rain. In all regards, it’s a morning just like all the others except that it’s the morning of my last full day in paradise. Tomorrow I hop a flight–or rather I hop 4 flights–which after about 40 hours will deposit me in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee.
It’s a really strange feeling to know that the routines of travel–which have become familiar and comforting in their banality (packing, repacking), their repetitiveness (banana pancake anyone?), and their excitement (always new horizons)–are a thing of the past. I feel like it’s the last day of high school: long anticipated with a mixture of anxiety, opportunity and anticipatory nostalgia.
I’m glad to be heading home, really I am. Saying so many goodbyes over the course of the year has taken its toll; the other side of this coin however is all the great people I’ve met, made friends with and been sad to part ways with. This year has had it’s ups and downs, as I knew it would and left me emotionally bankrupt at times but also far more resilient and calm than I could have imagined when I embarked on this destination-less voyage.
Mentally I’m all over the place right now. Leaving SE Asia and putting an end date to my travels has felt largely conceptual until today, now the actual end and not the conceptual one is hitting me making a sinister splat like a bug on my reality windshield. One day you’re flying along taking in the pretty colors of the flowers and then all of a sudden: SPLAT & reality hits out of nowhere. That’s how I feel about today.
I can’t be more grateful for what this past year has brought me, the new friends and reaffirmed old friends especially. I know that I’ll always cherish this time of basically unlimited freedom and that the nostalgia will probably be potent for a lifetime; but ultimately it’s only one year and that it will all soon be only the blink of an eye. That’s so odd to wrap my head around, that and the reality that my entire physical perspective will be wholly different in after a couple hours of sitting suspended in mid-air.
So here are a couple brief thoughts on this whole ending/beginning from the vantage point of a frangipani & mango garden:
-If we meet upon my return please say “Welcome back. I really missed you, I’m so glad you’re back safely.” Bonus points for saying “We have to spend some time together soon to catch up” and actually following through.
-If you want to know about my trip please let’s get coffee, have a meal together, skype. Don’t make me summarize 1 year in a sentence or two of small talk.
-It’s been over a year since I’ve seen you and I want to know all about your life too. Please, share with me about yourself and all you’ve experienced in the last year, that’s how we both reaffirm the friendship.
-I don’t have a plan. My feet won’t hit US soil and then magically income, housing and a whole fully-formed life is in awarded to me. A life takes time to build, please give me some to get there. Please be a part of it.
-I missed you, I really did. Travel and exoticism isn’t kryptonite for the comfort and shared laughter of old friendships so please don’t make any assumptions that just because we haven’t seen each other face to face in awhile that it’s been easy without you.
-Likewise for the friends I’ve made along the road: just because I may have an address and steady bed to sleep in no way means abandoning the friendship we’ve built. Let’s stay in touch, let’s share our ups and downs: let’s keep on being friends.
-Culture Shock is real! The States and day-to-day lifestyle there has little resemblance to the world I’ve been immersed in so please allow me a couple weeks/months to readjust. Can you please be patient with all the comparisons and wide-eyed musings I spout? That’s my way of getting my bearings and making sense of this wide world.
-Yes, I’m glad to be home and glad to have my feet on the solid ground of known places but it’s a big world out there and I still want experiences beyond the familiar, immediate surroundings. Travel is not “out of my system” and I hope it never will be (sheesh! you know me better than that).
Finally, I can’t wait to see you! Let’s make time together and let it be quality time.