“Huh,” I thought. “I didn’t even notice it had been a year.”
And I continued puffing away at my cigarette, unbothered by this realization.
Suddenly I remembered the flight I never took. The flight that my grandfather booked for me when I was feeling unbearably, horribly, tragically home sick. I missed my family so much. I missed my best friend like hell. I craved stability, a break from the constant rush that is the road. I wanted to go home.
I’d been away for just under a year at that point, and the feeling was nothing short of bittersweet when the flight was booked. A tearful goodbye with my boyfriend was said, and I boarded the bus to Christchurch to fly out.
The night before my flight I popped my headphones in, and went for a walk. My anxiety level was rising.
Before long a full blown panic broke out. I shook, trembled, twitched. My thoughts raced and repeated, trapping me in a hellish loop. I can’t go. I can’t go back. I can’t do this. This is wrong. THIS IS WRONG!
So I cancelled the flight. My grandfather wasn’t my biggest fan.
And now I can’t quite remember how it ever could have felt to crave home as I did before the flight was booked. What is this “home”? I’m like an alien who has never heard the term. Home. I just don’t understand it anymore.
A few months later, however, I did fly back to Canada. At that stage I knew I didn’t want to stay, not one bit. But I did want to see those I loved, which is how I wound up hitchhiking across the second largest country on planet earth last summer. It was a good run, filled with beautiful reunions and more hugs than you can count.
But now it’s been another year, and I neither miss this mythical home, nor do I particularly miss the inhabitants of the place. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends dearly, and I would give anything to have a Joss Whedon marathon with my best friend, lying in bed, ordering food, generally not moving. But I don’t miss anyone enough to go back. No, it can wait until next summer.
What changed, then? Why don’t I miss them as much as I did last time?
We live in different worlds. And while it was a glorious summer seeing those who knew me before it all began, we no longer have a single damn thing in common. You go to your job, I’ll check the best route for hitchhiking. You go out to the bar after work, I’m figuring out the best place to put my tent. You’re debating ordering in because you’re too lazy to cook tonight, and I’m chowing down on a can of chickpeas while I get eaten alive by mosquitos.
While the basic frame of a personality remains, all of the particulars have changed. Where once I would have planned, I now choose to let the road decide what comes next. Where I would have been stressed and anxious, I’m now excited, waiting on the edge of my seat. Hell, where I once was an extrovert, I’m now terribly introverted, though the good people can get me out of my shell (don’t confuse chatty with extroverted, for I can still chat up a storm, but I won’t let you in.)
And so I continue on my merry way, homeless, unconnected, aimless. When written, it all sounds very depressing, really. But it isn’t. It’s simply a completely different lifestyle. It in no way remotely resembles those I love in Canada, or scattered elsewhere around the globe. I can count on one hand those I know who could relate to this completely disconnected feeling (two), yet embrace it (one).
So I won’t be seeing you for a while yet, and I’m not quite sure who I’ll be when you do see me. But I’m excited to find out on my own, without a soul by my side. And I hope you love who you meet when I finally return… but just for a visit.