Home after 14 months on the road.
Deciding to quit my job, pack up everything I need in a small 45 Liter backpack for a year, and leave a place that I had become so familiar with to travel the world solo seemed like the hard part at the time. But returning home would be one of the toughest things I had ever experienced in my adult life.
I've been back to Boston for about two months now since my 14 months backpacking through Asia and Australia. I remember that by the tenth or eleventh month, I felt that I was ready and wanted to come back to see friends and family. In my mind, the thought of coming back to a regular daily routine, having a steady income again, and getting back in shape was exciting. But I decided to extend it for a few more months since financially I was still doing pretty well and what the heck? I'm already out here so why not visit a couple more countries. That few months went by pretty fast and just a few weeks before my departure date it wasn't just excitement that I felt anymore. I was also feeling scared. Scared of the uncertainty of being home. Not knowing what to do in a place I am so familiar with.
Arriving in Boston felt very strange. Once the plane landed the excitement of coming home completely disappeared. Everything was the same but felt so different at the same time. What I used to call home before no longer feels like home. It was strange to see giant trucks on the road, meal portions I could not finish in one sitting anymore. Everything are more expensive, and why is TMZ even on TV. Sure, it's nice to use a clean bathroom, be able to wash clothes with a washing machine, and not have to share a room with 6 to 20 other people sleeping only a couple of feet from each other anymore. I do appreciate the things that made my life so comfortable for the past 32 years of my life but that doesn't necessarily mean I am happy.
One of the first things I did when I got back was to look through my clothes I have left behind. I was shocked to see that I have about 10 t-shirts, 20 pair of socks, 4 pair of pants (compare to other people this is not a lot to begin with). I couldn't understand why in the world I needed this much clothes because for over a year I was traveling with only two pairs of everything: two shirts, two tank tops, two pair of socks, two pair of convertible pants/shorts, two pair of boxer briefs and it was great. I end up donating most of it to a second hand shop.
Not realizing this before but unpacking my backpack to put things on shelves again felt strange. One moment I was constantly moving to a different city/town every 4 or 7 days for over a year then all of a sudden overnight I no longer have to decide where to go next. I'm not living out of my backpack anymore. I can still clearly remember the first morning waking up and saying to myself, "My goodness, I don't have to think about where to go, don't have to look up where to buy my one way bus ticket, or think about if I'm paying too much for my meals anymore." Now certain things seem to be already planned out because there is only one thing to do now that I'm back: find a job of course. Only good thing about that is at least I'm getting a bi-weekly paycheck.
There was this sadness and emptiness inside that I didn't know how to deal with or explain (didn't help coming back in January with 2 feet of snow). I mean it was really nice to see friends and family but I wasn't super excited hanging out all the time. As tired as I got from being asked "Where are you from?", "Where are you going next?", or "how long are you staying here?", I now missed that interaction. And it's been replaced with "What is your favorite country?", "What was your most amazing or dangerous experience?" and "What are you going to do now?" which a lot of times I don't feel like answering because I don't want to explain myself. Telling people about my travel feels like I'm giving a lecture where the audience is semi interested in what you are saying as long as you keep it nice and short. Talk too much about your travel then it would just make you an ass.
Now at the two month mark, I feel a little bit better as life just happens when you are back. You go back to a normal routine just like everyone else. Wake up, work, gym, sleep and do that over and over again until who knows. Sometimes I feel like I never left at all. But I don't regret one bit of what I got to see and experience the past 14 months. Somehow someway traveling will change the way you view everything around you. Open up your mind to things you never thought you could imagine. It will change how you want to live your life. After that, try to be prepared for one heck of an emotional roller coaster ride that sometimes no words can describe.