I’ve been home for about six weeks now, and it feels like Asia is just a blip in my distant past. Honestly, I’m really glad to be back. It’s been nice to have access to things that I missed; to sleep in a quiet, dark, air-conditioned room in a comfortable bed; to hang out with friends and family in Savannah, D.C., NYC, Durham, and Denver; to exercise semi-regularly; to have entire days during which I don’t have to make any decisions at all.
At the same time, I am incredibly sad that my first big adventure is over. I miss the people I met, the challenge and excitement of facing the unexpected day in and day out, even the food (no, really!). It doesn’t help that a bunch of friends I left behind immediately jumped into a citywide, multi-day water gun fight in Chiang Mai for Songkran, Thailand’s New Year celebration; moved on to adventure sports in New Zealand; or just plain got to stay in tropical (or cultural) paradise.
I still have a lot of processing to do. Memories and experiences I “forgot” creep up at random times during the day, and it’s been fun to share stories and details as I remember them. I kind of can’t believe these things even happened. But what I can do right now is return to why I did this in the first place.
Asia was about taking a risk, about doing something really scary, about getting out of a pattern of saying “I can’t.” It was about using a crazy experience to be better, to get over the fear of failure, to maybe figure out what I want out of life. It was about learning to embrace the unexpected, the things that hit me in the face and those that just quietly pop up over and over until I finally catch on, about deviating from what I thought I wanted to do what will ultimately make me happy. And boyyyyyyy have I had some wonderful and unplanned things come my way since I returned home. The big risks, the uncertainty, the running leap off of the cliff — these things got me to where I am now. They were 100 percent worth it, and I am reminded of this every. single. day.
If I’m being honest, though, I’m overwhelmed in the best possible way by it all. There are frequent tears (my mother will be the first to inform you that this is highly unusual, as I am not emotional, ever), and I just have to take deep breaths and live one day at a time, just as I did when confronted with the daily challenges of traveling in Asia.
[See that? Life skills.]
Now that I am no longer halfway around the world, what happens to this blog? Good news — the adventure actually isn’t over. I’m about to hit the road again, only this time I get to take along a massive rolling suitcase and a bike bag instead of a 60L backpack.
There’s a company out there that plans to pay me to travel to amazing places, ride bikes, revel in adventure, and interact with interesting people. It feels like a fantasy, and I keep expecting a phone call that begins with “Yeah, oops, we made a mistake in hiring you…” (Note to my employer, please, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, do not do this.) It’s a work hard/play hard type of job that falls well outside of the traditional realm of 9-5 office work, and though it’ll be incredibly challenging, it means I’ll never have to sit behind a desk or in front of a computer screen. You could say I’m excited.
This won’t exactly be a return to your regularly scheduled programming. I won’t be able to write as frequently, and I may not be gallivanting around Asia, at least not immediately. However, I will continue to post dispatches from the road in keeping with Here&Afar’s original purpose. Are you in?