I’m on a bus back to the Bay Area. We’re somewhere on Interstate 5 between the 46 and 41 junctions. To the west the blue mountains separating us from San Luis Obispo sleepily lay. Between us and the mountains stretch acres of dry, golden flats. Methodically straight rows of corn and fruit trees come and go at intervals.
The bus is a double decker, laid out spaciously and set with large, vista-friendly windows. Still, the seats are a bit short, and it gets to feel crowded after a few hours. I must be spoiled after a month back in the states. In Thailand we would have been rejoicing that there was A.C. and a bathroom, no less.
I was worried that after coming back from our travels my wife and I would return to the same old life. That being back with family, friends, and the people of our environment would quickly bring us back to the same lifestyle.
But I’m surprised to find today, on this bus, how happy we were to be going somewhere again. I didn’t except it. We were straight up gleeful as we put our bags away, found seats, and buckled up.
Once a traveler, always a traveler.
There’s something about having removed ourselves from familiar society at length. We suspected that life was different elsewhere. When we found it to be true, we saw that we could live differently. Not just in the fact that we weren’t working, though that was a big part of it, but also that we could get along with different infrastructures, languages, cultures, and geographical locations.
We weren’t tied to any one place in the way we thought we were. Or at least me. My wife had grown up on the other side of the world, then moved to the states later as an adult. She’s also traveled far more than I have. In a sense, this stage of her life might simply be a return to the familiar.
It’s almost like having a crutch removed. Actually it’s more like having a third leg torn off, and discovering that it’s possible and quite more advantageous to move around with just two. There’s a sensation of a great skin having been peeled away, like a shedding snake. Yes, it’s a bit traumatic. To be honest, there is pain in leaving a home and a lifestyle.
We sold, donated, stored, or dumped everything we owned in the blink of a month. It had taken years of hard work to buy most of it, and a lot of thought and heart went into the style and feel of our cozy apartment. It was our love nest, not for a baby, but for the time we grew into steady, working professionals together.
Our home was our safe haven. It was where we cooked and enjoyed our dinner, where we slept, where we brought friends for hilarious games and vulnerable conversations. It was as much a part of us as our organs, like an extension of our hearts. We expanded like vines on a tree into our apartment, becoming yet again better versions of ourselves in a new stage of life.
To let go of our home was to have an organ removed. It bled, it hurt. We cried, we yelled. We desperately struggled to rid ourselves of everything even as our hearts told us to keep it. We were tired beyond tired.
And we were scared. But fear was the one thing we were prepared to handle. It was the battle we had committed ourselves to fight in order to move to this next stage of life. Fear, I knew.
It was the one thing keeping us from what we wanted to explore. What if? What next? How? The unknown haunts anyone daring to step outside of her life as she knows it.
Committing to travel meant accepting fear and deciding to look on the other side. It’s always a decision, at the end of each day.
So we accept consequences, act with decency and accept grace as it comes. But we never lose what we learned. And that is that we are ready and willing to face fear to see the other side.