One month from today I will be home again. What does that mean? I’ll be back in the world of things I love and miss like banh mi and espresso and toilet paper you can flush. But it also means I’ll be back in the world of making a living, having a schedule, responsibility. My landscape will go from one of infinite variation to a static, albeit beautiful (oh, California), familiar one. Once again, most of the people I love will be no more than a phone call and a quick drive away. But who will I be? Can you go home again? I don’t know the answer. But my mind is all over the place, so I thought I’d share some of the things that have taken up my thoughts for the last four months. Some are things I’ve learned. Some are things I already knew but have been reinforced by my travels. Some are just thoughts.
- I think I may have given myself a terminal illness. I used to think I had wanderlust. Now I know I do as it has infiltrated my body and I can feel it in the tips of my toes and the angles of my elbows. Now I know what I’m capable of, what of the detritus in my life is luxury and what is necessity. I know that I don’t need anything more than what I can carry on my back. Now I may never be able to stay in one place again. I am sick, sick, sick with the desire to explore, to experience and I don’t think this illness is curable, or if it is, if I would take the cure.
- Traveling alone is lonely. In spite of all the people you meet, there are many moments when you find yourself wishing for people who have known you for longer than a few days or weeks. I sometimes feel the need for a deeper connection, for shared history. But I have learned that it is possible to be both incredibly happy and incredibly lonely at the same time. This to me is evidence that they are not connected, as we as a society tend to believe. Loneliness breeds with or without happiness. I am often in a state of absolute joy in spite of my loneliness.
- Why do people always want to possess you? To put you in a box with a neat, handwritten label that says “mine”? Why can’t we love or like or want each other without trying to tattoo ourselves on each other’s skin? I want to exist simultaneously with someone, sometimes intertwined but more often separate, changing each other but also allowing each other to maintain our autonomy. I want to be completely myself and be with someone else. I don’t want to mute parts of myself in order to better mesh with someone else. I want to be me. With you.
- Sontagian list:
Things I like: long-haired men, the ocean, beaches at night, street food, maracuya shakes, long bus rides, salsa dancing, scuba diving, beer, sleeping outside, warm nights, going braless, authenticity, uncontrolled tear-inducing laughter, dialects, braids, bartending, graffiti, sexuality, naps, nudity, being barefoot.
Things I don’t like: mind games, assumptions, double standards, creaking doors, desk jobs, sunscreen, blisters, beauty ideals, shaving, malaria pill dreams, men who leer, drama, unnecessarily loud noise, haggling, instant coffee, the “gringo” price, cold showers, reciprocity fees, chuchaqui, objectification.
- Things I believe in:
-That not all questions require answers. Sometimes the question is enough.-That reading allows you to live thousands of lives concurrently with your own.-That there is no limit to love. Love does not run out, but it can change, and it is our reticence to allow it to do so which causes it to rankle and become embittering instead of empowering.-That there is no fundamental difference between any human on the planet.-That spending time alone allows you to learn more about yourself than anything else, and what you learn isn’t always flattering.-That sharing happiness with others only multiplies happiness.-That allowing yourself to love and be loved is the bravest and most frightening thing anyone can do.
- My vision of myself almost matches who I am.
- Freedom comes at the expense of security.
- Freedom is not always coming when you’re called.
Thirty days to go. This has been one of the most terrifying and rewarding experiences of my life. I am irrevocably and profoundly altered because of it. A lot can happen in thirty days, but what a wonderful feeling to know that at the end of it are people who long to see me as much as I long for them.
P. S. Chuchaqui is the Ecuadorean word for hangover.