When I woke up on this day one year ago – June 21, 2014 – it was 4:00 in the morning and pitch black. I barely noticed. In three and a half hours I would board a one way flight to South America. My RTW trip was beginning.
As I remember that morning today, the nerves jump back into my chest like it was yesterday. With how quickly the past year went it feels like it really was yesterday. Time sure does fly.
June 21, 2014 to June 21, 2015 was one hell of a year. I accomplished my major life dream of long-term international travel, and that alone is huge. The fact that I did what I set out to do in so many different ways is just icing on the best cake of my life. Even as parts of my trip changed in the moment, they changed in a way that ultimately led me back to the trip I’d imagined I would do. I saw the majority of places I had written down as possibilities in my planning notebook and then some. Ideas that had been just that – ideas, wonderings of a novice backpacker – became reality as I hopped on the back of motorbikes, tuktuks, songthaews, and buses to reach destinations picked by peer recommendations or a catchy description in Lonely Planet. I hoped I would meet people along the way who would want to experience this crazy adventure called backpacking with me – someone who would also want to wing it on buses across borders in South America, see the incredible scenery of New Zealand on a road trip, go to the rumored best party ever on the Nam Song River in Laos, or convince me to go somewhere completely random – and I did. I traveled solo but not so solo, making the world a more familiar, less lonely place. In traveling I also challenged myself, and I feel that I rose to the occasion; I proved my self-sufficiency, flexibility, ability to adapt to new situations, and just go with it attitude. I grew more than I could have imagined in that year, and I look back to how I felt in Hampi as the highest I’ve ever felt in my life.
Today I woke up to an alarm too, set for the time at which my flight departed last year, but for a very different reason. To go to work. At first I didn’t feel so bad, but as I continued the motions of getting ready for the day I realized that it was not going to be an easy one. I put on the sweater I had with me on the road and my Shambhala necklace, tributes to the past year that only I would recognize. I made coffee, lit an incense, put on my “songs from abroad” playlist, and sat down at my laptop to do my usual morning routine of video editing or blog updating. This is what came out.
I plan to leave again in 3 months for my next adventure, but before I begin to decide where to go next I have to fully come to terms with the fact that the last adventure is over. I’m almost there, but it’s hard to put such an incredible life experience into the “past” category. Do I wish that my “One Year Tripaversary” marker was still in my calendar today? That I woke up somewhere foreign still living the wandering life? Part of me does. But a larger part of me knows that that trip, the RTW trip I’d dreamt about for five years, came to a perfect completion in Japan. So I will hold onto that knowledge today as I pass this one year mark and maybe tomorrow I’ll be ready to shift my focus to the next phase – a summer to relax and stay put while I prepare for six months of the unknown. The nerves I felt that morning one year ago can wait three more months to surface again. And then, on that departure day, I can assure you they will be back full force.