Friday, March 7, 2014

When it all begins to feel real

The moment it begins to feel real

You knew it was coming. You bought the ticket months in advanced, started dusting off the old friendship shelf, and even set-up a little coming home party at what used to be your favorite dive. Even though you orchestrated the travel plans, you never really believed any of it was true. Now, as the pilot announces the final decent, and that seatbelt begins to resemble commitment, the reality finally sets in; you are coming home.

While the popular idea is that travel is the ultimate adventure, those who have gone and returned know that a large part of the journey is seeing what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown. Returning to the place you used to call home is the, “thrown into the fire,” approach to testing your new found apparition. 

At first, its not all that bad. People are excited to see you and listen to (minuscule portions of) your stories. You find enjoyment in the familiar, as even your skin begins to warm to the foreign, yet reminiscent, climate. It feels good, but like most honeymoon periods, it doesn’t last. Soon, be it weeks or months, the PTSD starts to set in. While physically you may be in your childhood home, or maybe out at a bar bullshitting about things your old (new) location deems socially relevant, your brain has absconded. It has returned to the place where you rekindled a love for existence. It can be subtle at first, but as time rolls on, it will seem as if you've teleported to where your heart left fragmented shards of itself. These moments will be as bittersweet as each travel romance goodbye. The images bring a sinking, longing feeling to your stomach, yet leaving them for what is before your eyes is a struggle. The battle between head and heart has formally begun. 

Along with frequent astral projections, you find yourself less enthralled by the day-to-day issues that dominate present conversation. It isn’t that you’ve become apathetic. No, it’s the opposite in fact. Travel has reframed your perspective. The little annoyances and petty arguments don’t concern you anymore. You’ve been introduced to a grander picture, and that is where your focus resides. While this is positive, it doesn’t always bode well with those around you. To be blunt, people may find this new you abrasive. You’ve changed, which unfortunately can adversely affect those you’ve known in your previous manifestation. The most difficult effect, of course, will be seeing the new you drift apart from those you used to love whole-heartedly. Moving on is part of the collateral damage of progress.

Returning home isn’t all bad, though. While it seems as if travel comes at harsh costs (it isn’t for the faint of heart), there are positives beyond family time and long-forgotten guilty pleasures.  As you traveled, you probably noticed distant acquaintances began to pop up on your various social media avenues. This was a pleasant surprise while looking over likes, but when you return “home,” you’ll realize that this is a welcomed phenomena. Much as you have experienced a metamorphoses, so have many people you’ve known, yet never knew. Certain relationships will wilt, but in the same regard, you have returned to a fertile season; the smart farmer knowns to tend to those crops that are blooming. New folks will enter your life, and if you don’t take this for granted, your social sphere can balloon to a level much heartier than where it was before. 

While the reason we travel and return home differs from person to person, revisiting the past seems to be a permanent facet of the transient lifestyle. For some wanderers, it may take weeks, months, or even years to feel comfortable again in this oddly familiar, yet foreign surrounding.  Others may never experience it again. The only real obligation any tumbleweed has is deciphering whether or not the new changes and growths you’ve come to accept and love can exist in the place you once called home. 

Photo courtesy of Jaunted 

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