A year ago I made a seemingly small but ultimately life-changing decision – I decided to subscribe to updates from a blog called Nomadic Matt. The founder grew up in Boston and traveled little, but after finishing his MBA he decided to take his first real trip abroad. After that he was hooked and he is now a life-long traveler committed to sharing his pearls of wisdom with others. It is through one of his e-mail updates that I first discovered Workaway and from there everything seemed to fall into place.
Now that I’m back in Canada I still read his blog and file away the useful tidbits of information as he doles them out. Last week I came across an article of his that articulated with absolute eloquence the feelings I’ve been experiencing since returning from my trip. In his post he discusses post travel depression and commiserates with everyone else who has returned from a trip only to feel suffocated on home soil.
“It was as if home had remained frozen during my time away. I still loved my friends, family, and city, but I didn’t fit in anymore. I had outgrown living there. Home felt small and unrelatable – I had this fire in me that I couldn’t express to anyone and it frustrated me. It yearned to try new things, go new places, meet new people but whenever I tried to express that, words fell flat. That fire was a feeling only those who had traveled seemed to understand – a simple nod to convey understanding of this shared bond.” (Nomadic Matt, Sept 2014).
Coming home is difficult. I have stressed to my closest confidants that I feel like I’m reliving last winter all over again – the same jobs, the same experiences and the same people. I try my hardest not to offend anyone; it goes without saying that while I was abroad I missed my family and friends daily, but I knew I was on a path that was worthwhile. My little slice of emotional suffering was worth it. While I was abroad I grew up and grew into myself and as a result I feel different in my skin. I hold the most important stories from the five months of solo-travel deep in my belly and guard it with a voracious pride; I am the only one I can truly share those moments with.
One of my mom’s friends asked her if I had re-acclimatized myself to life in Canada. My mom replied succinctly, “She hasn’t yet and I don’t think she ever will.” She’s right; the minute I touched down I felt welcomed into familiar surroundings but I carried a new bud of enlightenment in me that made me feel like an outsider. “Home” is a fluid term for me now; I can make a home anywhere, and I would prefer to make my home everywhere.
I’ve already started planning my next journey. I’m already making packing lists in my head and looking at maps and reading about the different climates and which metro gets you to which cathedral the fastest. I’m researching bus costs and connecting flights with undisguised zeal. Until I figure out how to turn my passion into payment, I must simply accept that I now commute and work seven days a week. In the end, I know these next few months of work will pay-off. It will all be worth it.
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo da Vinci