I just saw a quote on Facebook that read: “You can’t start the next chapter of your life while you keep re-reading the last one.”
But how do you stop re-reading the last chapter when it was soooo darn good? Like finishing a good book, the ending of the last chapter of my life feels like I’ve lost a good friend. In a way I’ve said goodbye, for now, to a little part of me. The adventurer, the traveler, the vagabond. I’ve gained layers, knowledge, insight, laughter, memories, yet its now time to hold onto all of that yet let this day be my present. There’s no more unpacking our backpacks every 2 days. We now know where we lay our heads every night. I, hopefully, will not wake up to flying ants in my ears anymore. And instead of crashing waves, honking motorbikes, or someone selling something at the crack of dawn, I wake up to the sounds of the family dog running down the house to bark at passerby’s. Life has changed drastically.
It was tough to come home. There I said it. While I love my family and friends and missed them a lot, life is “regular” here and its known. And I was so in the middle of adjusting that I couldn’t even write about it until now. Until I really really started job searching, getting out of the house, bring social, and had some perspective about my state of mind.
I spent about the first month home simply catching up on sleep from the time change, getting used to living in a house again and sleeping on my mattress, and generally adjusting to having much different conversations with people. No more….”how long does the bus take from Bagan to Mandalay?” “Can you recommend some place to stay in Luang Prabang?” “Which tailor in Hoi An did you use?”. You have conversations and realize that for some people, nothing really happened in six months…so what do you ask them about? They let you talk about your trip. The stories that didn’t make it on the blog, what we miss, how living with family is going, etc. There is this odd feeling of comfort mixed with unfamiliarity. I’ve expected these interactions, and looked forward to them, yet sometimes I don’t even know what to say.
I hit a groove about half way into our trip that I find myself day dreaming about. I’m a pretty organized, planned person. And for about the first two months of the trip, I had trouble shaking that part of me. I needed to know where we were going in 3 days, where we were sleeping tomorrow when we had to check out in the morning, and how long the bus ride took from A to B so we made sure we had time to take it. Then about 2-3 months into our trip I just hit a groove. It wasn’t a light bulb or aha! moment. Just as calm as the feeling itself I one day just noticed how much more chill I was. Spending an entire month on different islands didn’t hurt either. The chillness stayed with me though. And while I still liked reading the guide book and occasionally planning ahead, it happened a lot less. And I guess that’s the part, aside from the incredible food, that I miss the most. The easy, carefree nature of it all. Having to not think or talk about work, make a decision on the fly to go into one of the most heavily guarded countries in the world, speaking 8 different languages (even if it was just hello, thank you, goodbye), meeting new friends constantly, talking to local people about their life, and stopping for a drink because the view is just so darn beautiful. Traveling was trans-formative in a lot of ways, but I just hope I can carry this peaceful, easy feeling with me around in my pocket for the rest of my life. And have someone remind me of it when I dig down and can’t find it.
While I’m extremely sad to not be traveling anymore, what has helped immensely is that I came home to wedding planning. Wedding planning is fun and exciting and I’m happy it was my joyful distraction from the longing occurring in my heart. Saying YES! to marrying Amando and saying YES! to quitting our jobs and traveling were, by far, the best two decisions I’ve ever made in my life. And so while my heart aches to be back in Asia, I’m experiencing and relishing one of the happiest years of my life and feel very grateful. My honey recently gave me a birthday card that recounted the 12 months of my 27th year and he pointed out that they were the best 12 months of anyone he knew. I agree completely.