I’ve been back from my around the world trip for six weeks. And I am struggling to adjust to being surrounded all of the people I love. For a year I have had physical distance from them, and distance created by living a different life, talking less, and generally having no idea what was happening. It’s also tough to have the assault of information and conversation hijacking my every day. For nearly half of my trip, I traveled solo. I saw the sights on my own, I kept my own company on long bus rides, and slept as a stranger amongst many in countless dorm rooms.
And now I am thrust back to the once achingly familiar. Nothing has changed at home, and yet it’s all different. Even though we shop at the same Publix and eat at the same Thai restaurant, everyone here has lived a year of stories I missed.
There are so many lessons I’ve learned from travel, sharing those ideas is the classic way to cope with these aching feelings of joy tinged with nostalgic sadness. But beyond those big epiphanic moments arising from even the most mundane of my travel experiences while I lived them, I’ve actively processed more about that year on the road during the past six weeks than I ever did while I was actively backpacking.
I went through every emotion possible over the past month-and-a-half, and I kept it all off of the blog in an attempt to deny that I was quite so lost. I’ve talked before about the fact that I’m a crier—I am it helps me process.
So, there has been some crying since I returned.
Those first few weeks, I was lost. I felt adrift from the lack of direction—when traveling, I had a route and a need to always continue moving forward.
Once home, I lost my compass and my purpose.
I was supposed to come back from my round the world trip changed, but I am still me.
I pretty much feel like a spaz most days. I’ve gotten right back into the swing of things, visiting friends, attending concerts, and hanging out with my niece and nephew (I love them to pieces!).
But I realized some things that are harder to recover.
- How the heck do you feed yourself when you have to plan a week in advance?! I have eaten out at least one of meal every day for a year. And in Asia, every meal was lovingly prepared by someone else. Now, what is this thing called cooking? My favorite days are when my friend Niki invites me over for dinner . . . she calls and I manage to accept her invitation with just right the amount of self-control. Inside my head, I’m secretly cheering “Yay! Crisis averted. Thank the sweet lord, one meal down.”
- What do I do with myself while everyone else is at work? I still work remotely, so all of the “bonding” time I anticipated having with friends only happens outside of traditional work hours since they’re all nine-to-fivers. When I asked a fellow long-term backpacker for ideas, she suggested “exploring my home-town.” But . . . meh. I’ve lived in Florida for mostly all of my 25 years of life, so that gets nothing more than meh.
- Why are there so many bloody choices? Although I wanted to burn my hideous orange and brown shirt after wearing it for the entire trip as one of my five shirts (and the only one that didn’t fall apart), I miss the simplicity travel brings to your life. It’s forced minimalism and it’s wonderful. Now, every morning I battle with my closet to make a choice. And some days, I stay in my pajamas as long as possible just to postpone the overwhelming feeling of opening a closet (and let’s not even talk about the grocery store—they make me want to hide).
Beyond all of these silly little problems, I’ve also had to come to terms with the fact that a lot of people, even the people who love me, are used to me being gone. Everyone said goodbye to me more than a year ago, and then they moved on with their lives, they found someone else to call for a quick coffee, because I was on the side of the world. I don’t receive random updates on their life via text, because someone else fills that role in their life now. And that’s OK—that was a choice I consciously made when I left. But it doesn’t take away the pangs of hurt. I feel anonymous and a tad forgotten in my hometown—a place where I know hundreds of people. I know how to make new friends on the road, it’s often instant when you stay in a hostel. But huddled into my childhood room at my parents’ house—well, I’m working out a new pace of life that will work better here.
Anyhow, forgive me for the ramblings, I’m just a little adrift . . .