Hi friends! I know it has been over a month since I´ve updated my blog, and trust me, A LOT has happened during that month, so it would be impossible to encompass it all in a post, but I woke up today with thoughts banging pots and pans in my ears and I realized how badly I need to write, so that´s what I aim to do. It is morning and two hardboiled eggs are sitting in a cool bath in a pan on the counter. Breakfast. The breakfast of a traveler is a very important ritual. For me, it has to involve protein. I have no idea how many calories I burn every day, but it´s a lot, especially since I decided to avoid elevators and other small spaces after I got locked in a tiny bathroom beneath a noisy kitchen in Italy. I walk up and down hundreds of stairs a day…once, 11 stories of stairs. And my pack, well, just imagine carrying a small mountain on your back, rubbing your hips and shoulders, causing your feet to feel like puddy being smooshed onto the concrete with each step. I hate complaining, but after close to three months of solo travel, it feels so naughty and so good to vent a little. Because despite all the fun I am having, this shit is hard sometimes!
In the last month, I have been in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Italy and Spain. Tomorrow, I will be in Portugal. I have used a trash bag for a rain jacket, a scarf for a hat, played a ninja game in the largest public square in Rome, been the passenger on a 22-hour boat ride across the Mediterranean Sea, discovered a second family, learned to use a bidet, gone blues dancing in Barcelona, cried over loved ones lost with strangers, rode on the back of scooters, swam topless, shared a flat with a cat in heat (which if you have never experienced this, I assure you, you don´t want to), got bit so badly by mosquitos that they left bruises, and have made more friends and connections than a girl can hope to make in a lifetime!
I have been feeling a lot of things lately. They came to a head when I posted on my Facebook that I had purchased a ticket home to Oregon. The comments were surprising. People seemed disappointed that I was returning ¨so soon¨ (3.5 months doesn’t seem so soon to me), upset they couldn´t keep watching my journey, and perhaps, sad that their fantasies about my trip weren´t coming true. When I left for Europe, people told me all sorts of things, like ¨You are going to fall in love and never come back!¨ or ¨Find a job and stay!¨ or my least favorite, ¨You have three months to find a husband!¨ The thing is, I don´t want a husband at this point in my life, and I don´t want to force a future that isn´t unfolding naturally. My visa ends November 3, and I have chosen to live fully in the moment and experience the world around me rather than sit in a dark internet café, writing cover letters and searching for jobs. Why do I even feel like I need to explain any of this to anyone? The answer is complicated. Most importantly, I have chosen from the beginning of my journey to share it with other people via Facebook and this blog. I have done this solely to share, not to gloat, not to ask for opinion, but to show others the beauty of embracing life and the world…it is what I am most passionate about. I believe travel can be a revolutionary act and can have a ripple effect much larger than we can imagine with our logical minds. I have aimed to be a drop of goodness, and in doing so, have seen the reflection of equal goodness in the world around me, no matter what city, or country, or language being spoken. I am so grateful for this experience, and I am eager to tell others about all that I am discovering every day. Mostly, I want to say ¨You can bring your dreams to life! They are much more attainable than you may realize! And what is this life for, if not for actualizing your dreams and the dreams of others?! Go do it, now.¨ But there have been moments when I have wanted to delete my Facebook, pull the curtains closed, and preserve these special moments and experiences for myself alone, keeping them hidden from the opinions of others.
I wonder what travel was like before the age of social media and the internet. Did people yearn to share or were they happy to be wrapped in their own wings, processing experiences on their own? It´s interesting to think about the impact technology has had on our lives.
For me, travelling alone has been a gift. Sharing it with others has sweetened the gift, but the gift would have been a different shape and size, had I not ventured out on my own. Often, the reaction I get from other people is ¨I could never do that!¨ or ¨Woah, you are strong!¨ or ¨Aren´t you lonely and afraid?¨ Sure, I have been afraid, lonely even, but only for moments. Just like the sun moves across the sky, emotions drift in and out of any person´s psyche, and I would have the same feelings if I was home. I am not superhuman, but I have made a valiant effort at becoming my own best friend, and most of the time, I succeed (don´t get me wrong, I have my self-defeating moments, but they are no longer my predominant experience). Overall, travelling alone has opened me up to so many experiences and friendships that I would not have had if I was with other people. And I can now say that I trust my intuition because it has guided me correctly without fail every step of this trip. That alone is worth all the money spent and the hardships navigated.
The difficult thing for me to fathom is how to return to Oregon and not feel like I am rewinding, or erasing, the beautiful tape of experiences I´ve just had. The end of a trip is every cheerful traveler´s sadness. I look forward to seeing friends and family, but I have tasted freedom and I am eager for more of it. I see the horizon and I wonder what´s beyond it. When I am home in Eugene, I will apply for jobs, sort out my plans, decide what comes next, and try to keep the vision of my dreams in clear sight. This will be the next adventure and I will go toward it, even though it intimidates me. Every adventure holds wisdom in its center, and life can be one big adventure if you choose to see it that way.