I'm nearly finished updating my paper journal with tales of the trip. I have written over 100 pages now. My digital camera broke the first day I was away, and while many of the people in the group I met took tons of photos, and while I bought a couple of disposable cameras, I was relieved not to be burdened with having to create a visual chronicle of my journey. I'm better with words anyway, and when I reread those pages I wrote in tents, cafes, airports, hotel rooms, I get an instant mental image, am immediately transported back.
When I took this vacation, I did so in the hopes that it would be some kind of spiritual journey, a vision quest even. I hoped to find some kind of clarity, some direction as to what my next step in life should be. Instead, I had the time of my life. I was always in the moment, absorbing all the new sights and experiences, bonding with my fellow travellers, laughing at anything and everything. I was too busy being happy to force some kind of meaning onto it.
It's tough to come back to New York, feeling so changed, but not sensing the change in my external environment. My craving for adventure hasn't abated, but certain responsibilities currently demand my attention (like trying not to panic about how financially tapped out I now am, knowing I need improve my monetary situation pronto). I'm also trying to hold on to that happiness I felt when I was away; many people have commented that I have a new glow. I certainly feel it; I hope this radiance isn't fleeting.
I've been trying to figure out exactly what kind of personal evolution I have undergone. There were aspects of the trip that were physically demanding, and having no travel companion certainly made the first day or two a bit challenging. But it's more than that. I was fully in the present tense, I was laid back and carefree, I was my best self.
Roommate Rachel pointed out that we are generally our best selves, and that even if we don't think so, our friends and loved ones tend to see the best in us. I guess it was different being around strangers, forging new connections, gradually revealing different layers of our personalities. It was like starting over.
Returning to New York has made me rather tempted to pack up and run away again to some far-flung corner of the world. But I already did that right after graduating college, and while I created a good life for myself, I had to return eventually. This city always pulls me back, in one way or another. Besides, if I look closely, I know I have a wonderful life here. I just need to find a way to channel all this wanderlust and energy more locally.
There's also this guy. I met him on the first day of my trip, but nothing happened between us until our last (I kind of promised that I would keep the details off the record; sorry). Not only does he live in a foreign country, but he's going to be travelling for the next couple of months, so chances are, I won't see him again. But to me, he represents the giddy delirium of those twelve days. Travel fling or no, I will always think fondly of him. That last day/night of the vacation was one of the best in my life. The group as a whole was so cheery and free-spirited, and then when I finally got together with the guy, it was like something out of a John Hughes movie. It's my happy place.
And now I'm here, in a different place, unable to go back, facing forward and trying not to put too much pressure on myself to figure it all out. The only consistency in life is that it continually changes, and even though the good things seem ever so fleeting, I feel very lucky to have felt so much joy, to still feel traces of it in me.