The One Part Of Long-Term Travel Nobody Warned Me About.
The ten months spent on the road were spent in a constant state of flow. There was no need to care about tomorrow and I quickly came to learn that even if I did, it proved futile. As days never really turned out the way I planned it anyway. Living day by day like that became its own sort of infectious. Granted, overwhelming at times but infectious nonetheless.
During the last two months of road life, all I wanted to do was be back. I was so excited to see friends and family again, to share the tales of the trip, and to hear what everyone’s been up to this year. I was done and ready. Done with constant movement, unstructured days, and new faces. Ready for family, friends, and routine. Ready to return as this new person that sees every day as a new adventure, thinking everybody else believes the same.
Then I got back. And coming home proved to be the loneliest part of this trip.
I’ve since tried to place the feeling. Perhaps it comes down to the fact that even though you feel changed, the place you grew up in and the people you grew up with didn’t. Not in the way I would have hoped at least.
I wasn’t expecting a massive homecoming or that the people in my life should drop everything to hear the tales from the trip. I’m not quite sure what I was expecting at all. A pat on the back and a job well-done sticker? Come now. I’m a realist after all.
I say I didn’t know, but I sure know it wasn’t the sense of estrangement I felt upon my return. It feels alienating. Like I have to find my place all over again in the one place I thought I had it. Only then did I fully realise how much traveling can change you.
After months of my day-to-day consisting of new sights, people and lessons, coming home felt like taking a step back. I've seen parts of our country that were new to me, ways of life different from mine, and new perspectives I would never have gained if I stayed in my hometown.
I’ve since come to realise that it’s a case of adjusting at first. Keeping in mind that the life I lived is one that most people won't ever get the chance to and it’s unfair of me to expect them to act as if they can even begin to understand what I’m talking about most of the time.
A friend recently shared some insight…
We must keep in mind that these experiences are not something you have in common with anyone back home. And people converse about the things they have in common. How on earth could we expect them to ask you about your experiences when they don’t even have the questions to ask?
For some, your travels might act as a mirror to their own lives, reminding them of the chances never taken and the dreams they were too scared to pursue. So why on earth would they want to talk about it?
Funny thing is, it’s not that I’m wanting to talk about my experiences all day, it’s just that after having them, talking about your horrible work environment, how expensive petrol is, the kid’s school events and that boyfriend that you still haven’t dumped seems a bit frivolous.
But those are conversations I’ve ended up falling back into to keep whoever’s on the other side of the table comfortable. I guess this is where the fear sets in, that you’ll just slowly slip back into the person you were before leaving. The girl on the road long forgotten three months after signing that new lease.
It’s been a weird shift. A feeling of finding myself again. This time in a life where I won't experience something new every day and not every day will be an adventure. And learning to be okay with that.
It’s also here how much I realised that it truly isn’t the road that changes you. The road shows you who you are. Coming home changes you.