Catching up, getting adjusted, keeping the dream alive.
09/01/2011 - 07/12/2012 93 °F
Before I left on my trip, I started reading some other travel blogs to see how others approached their travels and the things they did. One thing I despised is when the people I was following would all of the sudden stop writing. It left me wondering if they made it home ok, are still traveling, had a bad experience, etc. Well sorry to say I did the same. So Sorry!!
Part of the reason is that I am just caught up in this fast-life, always pushing me to speed up and look forward when I spent so much time getting to the moment. The other part, is that now when I write, I have to look those people in the eye and feel a little more self-censored. Regardless, I have been itching to get back to this so we’ll see where it goes.
It’s a hot, sunny day here in Denver, CO. I’m sitting at a coffee shop a couple blocks from my condo. I have a lot to tell you but I don’t want to over do it so I’m going to pretend that I’m back in that small internet ‘room’ in Al Mina, Panama where I would write from when I was staying in the jungle. There was a lot of noise from the school kids and a 2-hour timer staring at me. One time I got caught up in writing only to be snapped back to reality by the attendant telling me my time was up.
I’m happy to report that I’m still on this journey, although it hasn’t been easy. As far as coming back to see what the U.S has, I’ve definitely done that! I spent time with family in Atlanta, Georgia, Hudson, Massachusetts, Yuma Arizona, and Camas Washington. I’ve driven through or stopped in these states:
• New Mexico
• Even made it to Mexico for a couple hours
A lot of those were covered while driving moving trucks but still enjoyed seeing so much of the country that I haven’t seen before.
I’ve spent most of my time back in Colorado but recently ‘relocated’ to Camas, Washington, although I’ll be in Denver for a month or two. I have become eerily comfortable with my nomadic life although I am now looking for a job so I can reload and plan the next leg of my journey. I traded my backpack for two suitcases and I usually drive, sometimes even my own car, instead of busing it but I do miss the bus sometimes.
As you can imagine, it was an adjustment coming back to the states. The night I arrived in Atlanta, I was hungry so we stopped at a fast-food place and I got a hamburger, fries and small drink. $6.25. WHAT!? Definitely not the two and three dollar meals I was used to. I had no complaints about my sleeping situation for the two months I was gone but I did get some great sleep on the deluxe air mattress that awaited me. Two days after I arrived, I was standing at Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta, having a couple beers before watching the University of Georgia Bulldogs at the Georgia Dome on national TV. The next day, I was at Turner Field watching the Braves. I remember thinking to myself ‘A week ago I was stranded on a desert island in Panama, sitting on a beach with no electricity!’ Over the next month, I spent some great time with my expecting cousin and then with my brother and his family in Massachusetts. Even thought being back in the U.S was over whelming, it was nice to be able to adjust a little before heading back to Denver.
Driving out of Denver International Airport was weird. It was almost 4 months ago that I left; not knowing when I would be back and now the Rocky Mountains are staring back at me. For some reason, they are different than I remember. Bolder, colorful, grand. I never appreciated them as I do now. Just an hour later, I was driving my own car down highways I grew up on, seeing things that were familiar to me. It was a sense of comfort that was almost uncomfortable. I had shed most of the things that gave me comfort and now, slowly, they were coming back.
I didn’t really have too much of a plan once I got back to Denver but I ended up getting a short-term job at a warehouse for a couple months. It was a completely different than the 8-6 office job I had before, and would have probably been one of those ‘humbling’ things if I hadn’t completely gave up on that corporate job that had always been so much a part of my identity. I had been renting my condo out so I was staying on my cousin’s couch for the first month and a half I was there. My renter moved out and I found myself back on my couch, watching my TV for a couple weeks. It was really weird. I had a few moments where I looked around and realized that I didn’t need any of this anymore. As much as it was great having the comfort of my own bed and all of the things I worked for, I just didn’t need it anymore. I started realizing that I could be happy with much less.
The best part of being back was being able to see and reconnect with my friends and family that had been so close and supportive of me on this wild journey I’ve been on. The hardest part, was being able to find new ways to connect with them after I learned so much about myself and had so much growth in the short time I was gone. It is definitely a two-sided sword: how to act around people who have known you for years, or your whole life, when they have known you to be and/or act a certain way but you now feel different on the inside and how to have a different presence around people when you naturally fall back into the comfort of who you were before.
My approach to that was to focus on getting to know those people all over again, and giving them a clean slate. On my side, I tried to talk less, and be more. Instead of trying to explain what I have gone through or how I feel, I just tried to just listen to them and to be a part of their family for whatever time I was there. Do things that I felt right instead of things that sounded or looked right. It is definitely not easy but when I feel myself getting caught up, I am still able to close my eyes, take a deep breath and remember what my new purpose is.
I have found this to be hardest with the people that are the closest to me. While everyday I wake up with contentment, it is the people closest that are usually in thought during those moments when I feel out of control. To a point I really expect them to just blindly support me but I understand and, to some point, expect them to question me to make sure I’m on track. Most of the time, I am not able to explain in any logical sense what exactly I am doing with my life right now but it is in those times when the calm I have on the inside reminds me that I’m on the right track.
One of the most trying moments I have had so far is a conversation I had with my mom. After being nothing but supportive since this journey started, she finally shared her apprehensions and questions about what I was doing and where it was taking me. Through this very emotional and honest conversation, I didn’t get defensive or start thinking about my rebuttal. I just sat and listened. While I was defiantly shocked that this was coming out, it is not something that completely shocked me. Subsequently, an hour later, I left on a 22-hour, solo road trip from Portland to Denver where I had plenty of time to digest and think about what she said. Normally, that would have rocked my world and sent me to question what exactly I was doing but in this case, I still felt resolved. I definitely heard her and it did make me think about some decisions I needed to make but didn’t through me off course. This was a defining moment.
One of the more interesting aspects of being back is talking to some of the people that have read this blog. The night before I left, I sent out a mass email to most of my contacts letting them know what I was up to and shared my blog address but I didn’t really know who got it and who was actually reading. I actually felt a little embarrassed sometimes when someone would mention that they read it. I ended up sharing a lot more personal things than I planned so I felt a little bit naked but at the same time, that was the point right?
The other thing that happened is that a lot of my other relationships changed. I became closer to some people who were just casual friends, some friendships faded or my feelings changed about them and others became a more important part of my life. Feeling contentment on the inside, definitely helped me be more open and honest with some of people. I guess I have not ever really had a problem being honest but now I feel less vulnerable to reactions when I do so.
I have kept in contact with a few people I met on the road, I’m sure I’ll run into a few of them at some point. After about two weeks back in the States, I started getting road-sick even though I was getting a little burned out on it at the end.
At the moment, I am on another temporary work project here in Denver that is supposed to last to the end of the month. If I am going to be in the U.S for a while I really need to get a place of my own so I have been looking for a job nationally. Right now, I’m looking to find a job for a year or so, pay some bills, and save some money for another adventure. While I’m not looking to get back into that life again, I look at is as a means to and end and hope I can keep it that way.
Although life is not easy when you do not have an income or a bed that is yours, the feeling I get almost everyday when I realize that I quit the career I always wanted over a year ago and I’m still living this dream and a lot of that dream and still have the freedom to make choices. One of my motivations for starting up again, is my cousin recently quit his job and started a cross-country motorcycle trip (www.flipouting.com) and I found myself wishing I was living that dream…oh wait I am!