Well there’s a lot swirling in my head right now guys. I am sitting at my hostel in Czech Republic in one of the most beautiful little towns I’ve ever seen, Český Krumlov. It’s stunningly pretty, the shops and people are charming, and yet my heart clutches at the knowledge that every day brings me closer to the end of my round the world trip. I got a bit teary and nostalgic today when I thought about all of the experiences I’ve had these past months, and all the rest of the world still out there. And then there’s my family that I haven’t seen in over a year. Jenn joined the trip in Italy, and that was a wonderful piece of home and friendship to have after these months on the road.
I’ve been traveling at a break-neck speed for months, and it caught up to me in Slovenia, where I decided to camp out for an extra two weeks. Now, Český Krumlov is so easy that I’ve decided to stay a couple extra days here, too. I’ve taken the afternoon to read a book by the pretty river that winds through the town (I’m still reading Lolita), and all of a sudden it hits me that entire swaths of this trip are over.
Traveling friends who I met in Europe are now beginning their travels through Thailand, Laos, India and Nepal. And some are now posting photos from Australia. Each photo I see from their trip reminds me of my own travels, the people and faces and experiences that have made this round the world trip incredible. Pangs of sadness push alongside the gratitude. There are swirling masses of feelings flinging around in every direction, and it’s overwhelming me as I sort out the reality of still having two months left in my trip — England, Scotland, and Ireland most notably — and the looming knowledge that I will give my family a huge hug in just eight weeks.
For weeks now, I’ve been thinking a lot about going home to see my family. I even took the big step of purchasing my final ticket of the trip, which will fly me from Ireland to Florida at the end of September! And now that the ticket is booked, the finality of an experience has hit me. Part of me begs to rewind the last five months and return to Southeast Asia. To give myself to do it over again. Not so that I could do it differently, but so that I could breathe in those people and places once again, tattoo the memories into my brain.
A handful of the young girls from my volunteer time in Cambodia continue to email me. They beg me to visit soon. When I respond to them, it occurs to me that it could be years before I head back to Cambodia and Laos. The thought makes me weepy. Experiences and people on the trip are fleeting and ephemeral. They are profound in the moment and then gone as I move forward and onward toward home.
And despite my Vipassana meditation training, which taught me to approach this all with equanimity, I am struggling. This pause in Český Krumlov gave me a chance to reflect and remember. And maybe that is healthy too. To remember how very much I loved my time teaching English at the monastery in Nepal, and the chance to trek in remote areas of Laos. Then there were the high points of biking with my bestie Jenn throughout the Tuscan countryside — bucket list items realized.
This time and reflection serves as, perhaps, a reenforcement of my gratitude for this wondrous life and opportunity. My working online these past ten months, I was able to immerse in experiences and perspectives I had never before considered.
Even more, these lazy days gave me time to process the journey. Time passes and memories will fade if they are not pulled from the memory banks, dusted off, and relived for their highs and lows, their joys and triumphs. Each memory brings with it the scents and feel of the places my body has passed through. I can pull out the memory of Holi and still taste the grit of color powder that made it into my mouth. Or the warm waters caressing my skin on the Great Barrier Reef.
Since memories shift and change with each passing year, I find myself profoundly grateful that I maintained this travel blog. I also continue to keep a scrapbook journal, it holds sketches of each place, ticket stubs, and fragments of ideas and memories written sometimes even in the margins. All of these are moments I hope to never forget.