Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures in Solitude

''Balancing on one wounded wing
Circling the edge of the never ending
The best of the vanished marvels
Have gathered inside your door''
--Adventures in Solitude, by The New Pornographers

I think I may be ready to go home.

That doesn't mean I am ready to give up this gypsy lifestyle. Or the way backpackers meet new friends every single day. Or the prospect of seeing jaw-droppingly beautiful sights multiple times a week. Or being surprised every day. Or meeting BEAUTIFUL people from absolutely every and anywhere in the world and getting a taste of who they are, how they do. Or speaking a different language. Or hearing beautiful and different languages constantly being spoken around me. Or what a puzzle each new place and transportation system is, and how fun it is to solve them. Or the mountains. Or showing up at a bus station and getting to choose any of those destinations being shouted repetitively by the attendants, and just getting on that bus, and GOING. Or having the beautiful option of being able to do absolutely anything any given day. (I hope this last one isn't actually something I'll have to say goodbye to back in NYC.)

It just means I am ready to see my family and friends again. The people that I know are in my life permanently (though I hope there have been a few additions over the past five months.) I am ready to be in my city. Where I know the public transportation system. Where I have my favorite cafes, bookstores, restaurants, reading spots, people-watching spots, haunts. I am ready to go the gym again. I am ready to look pretty on a regular basis again. I am ready to wear jeans again! To eat pad thai again. To eat The Sandwich again. To use my phone again. To catch up on all the delicious film and television I have missed. To know that a beloved friend is just a phone call or text away. Most of all I am ready to put my arms around all that I have learned in the past five months and shove it into the shape of what my life was. I am ready to move forward. I am ready to pull strings and tie things together. I am ready to carry the vibrancy that has seeped into me back to my beloved grey city, and live my life.

Sometimes I refer to my NY life as my 'real life'. But isn't that misleading?. This is real life. What is more real than traveling? Every experience, emotion, connection, relationship is intensified and concentrated. I have experienced 180 degree turnarounds so frequently it makes my head spin. Travel carries me through places and societies more real than I've ever known. I've experienced several emotions or levels of emotions I have never reached before. I've had so many firsts. I've seen beauty, pain, kindness, poverty, creativity to an exponential degree. Isn't the term 'real life' frequently meant to imply a boring life? Doesn't it often have negative connotations? The daily life. The offices and appointments and paychecks life. I resolve not to have that life. I think I've generally avoided it thus far, and I intend to continue that trend. It's easy to slip into, it's comfortable to slip into, because extraordinary takes a little effort, a little extra energy, a little more drive and ambition. I am recharged, I am reinspired, I am alive with expectation.

My head is flooded with such a deluge of thoughts, here at the close of my journey, that I don't know how to spill them all onto this screen effectively. I am sure I will be concluding and reflecting here for two weeks.

Before I embarked on this journey, I wrote the following:
'So what do I expect from this grand adventure? I expect to come back a different person. I expect to learn. To learn to an exponential degree. I expect to practice self-sufficiency, and to live without modern convenience. I expect to see great sights. I expect to meet so many people. I expect epiphanies. I expect mistakes and mishaps. I expect frustration. I expect laughter, tears, songs, stories, sun, friendship, and spirituality.'

I expected a lot, and this Adventure delivered on absolutely every single point. So how is it that I feel that this trip has turned out completely unexpectedly? I could never have predicted what has happened, how I have felt, what I have thought, what I have learned, how I have grown, what I have done. All I knew for sure, as it turned out, was where I was going.

During the months before I left New York, and I shared my upcoming plans with friends, coworkers, family members, etc, I was asked the same question over and over again: Why? Why leave your job, your city, your people, for 6 months, traveling dangerous 3rd world countries, blowing all of your savings? Why travel? A couple of concerned family members even called me to extensively try to convince me not to come. I was always a little exasperated as the inevitable question popped out, and a little perplexed in how to answer it. I think the obvious answer is, Why not? Why wouldn't I want to go explore the world for myself? Why wouldn't I want to go on an adventure, see beautiful things, meet great people, eat delicious food, stretch my mind and heart over countries and continents? I have traveled before, and I know that I love it. When I travel, I come back a different person. And it has always been, inevitably, a better person. In my opinion. A more educated person, a more compassionate person, a more open, wise, empassioned, vivid young woman. Isn't it evident throughout history's stories and literature that travel is beneficial and desirable? From The Odyssey, to Alice in Wonderland, The Alchemist... this list basically never ends. The hero's journey will include painful challenges, extraordinary, unexpected beauty, a huge amount of learning and self-discovery, and the hero returns, triumphant, to carry on their life's pursuit in a more effective way.

Well. That is a very long-winded way to say that this hero is returning home, triumphant, having slayed a couple of dragons. The woman I am returning, and the life I am returning to, is why.

Things that Latin America has hooked me on:
wine (my Mormon family members are aghast at this point...)
carbonated water
SCUBA diving
fresh juice
avocados (like I wasn't before)
reading (like I wasn't before)
the ocean
Spanish music (after my year in Washington Heights, and all the late nights due to music pounding the streets, who would have thought?)

Ooooh how I am deliciously hooked on travel. If I didn't have it before, (which I did), I am certainly infected with the travel bug now. I am already planning my next trip. Summer of 2011, visiting the European friends I have made on this trip. Countries I am hoping to add to my ever-increasing List: Norway, Sweden, Holland, UK (again). And then just for fun I would love to throw Switzerland and Germany in there. And if I have time Italy and Greece-- though those last two may have to be a trip in themselves.

Just so you know, dear readers, even though this particular journey is coming to an end, I do not intend to stop writing. Please stay tuned to my adventures back in New York City. They will be pretty fabulous, I promise.

And you have no idea how many pictures are headed this way.


Anonymous said...

Based on that first paragraph, it sounds like you must be ready to move back in with your beloved Dominicans. Glad you've come full circle.

Rebecca said...

I can't wait to have some New York adventures with you!

Sven said...

Still waiting on pictures...