I’m back! In more ways than one: back with another blog post, and back home in the US.
Back home, already? I was gone for 7 weeks- I did a whirlwind few days through Bath and London and Paris before spending three weeks at La Muse in southern France, then two and a half weeks in Spain, and then a week in Scotland. Before I left for my trip, I was overwhelmed with everything I had planned, with all the different parts, and I worried that it was too much. And when I started the Camino and then got sick, I still worried that it was too much. “Why am I going to Scotland?” I asked myself. “Why did I decide to do so much?”
But in the end, I have to say, I’m glad I decided to do it all. And the traveling and the unpacking and repacking of bags, the different bed every night, the connections and the directions and all the different towns and cities… by the time I got to Scotland it didn’t feel too difficult or too hard. In fact, I sort of felt like I knew what I was doing, even though I had never been to Scotland before. I felt like, maybe just a bit, I’d gotten rather good at this traveling thing.
That being said, it’s good to be home. In the last few days of my trip, I kept thinking to myself, “I only have to do this two more times. I only have to do this one more time.” “This” referred to showering in cramped and not-so-clean hostel bathrooms, to waking up in the morning and trying to be super quiet while packing up my stuff, to having to dry myself with my incredibly small travel towel that I should have upgraded to a larger size two years ago.
But it’s also strange to be home. Nothing has changed here, and I wouldn’t have expected anything to, and yet, when you’re away from home for a long time and have seen and done so much, you return and expect that the changes are at home, too. That everything should look a little different, should sound a little different and taste a little different. But my apartment is my apartment- a bit musty and cobweb covered but everything is in the exact place where I left it. My mailman waved to me yesterday and said, “Welcome back”, at Trader Joe’s the shelves are reassuringly stocked with the same familiar products, the sounds of cicadas come in through the screen door and it’s like background noise that has always been there.
I fell asleep on my couch last night around 7:30; I was trying to stay up as late as I could to beat jet lag, but I decided to close my eyes for a just a few minutes and of course that sent me into a quick and deep sleep. I awoke with a jolt about 40 minutes later and blinked my eyes and looked, confused, around the room. Where was I? Home? Why am I here? It was the strangest feeling, I struggled to understand that I was in a familiar place, and for a split second, it felt like all of my traveling had been a dream. Like I had been on that couch all along, and had only dreamed of the writing in France, the trekking through Spain and Scotland, the different lands, the new friends, the sunrises, the green mountains.
My next post should be back to the Camino, to finish telling you about that journey, and then I’m anxious to write about Scotland and my experiences there. I tried to write a bit in the last week of my travels but I never got very far. The faulty keyboard made it difficult, and to be honest, most evenings, I didn’t feel like writing. I sat in bars with a glass of wine and a hearty meal and watched what was going on around me and sometimes chatted with the locals, or other travelers. I just wanted to absorb where I was. One night, I set up my keyboard and iPad in the hostel in Glen Nevis and started writing a post but then a Londoner named Tony started talking to me and then so did a woman from Minnesota and then a man from Norway and so I folded up my keyboard and put it away.
But my keyboard is open again, and I’m so happy to return to writing, to telling these little stories, to processing my experiences and then looking forward to my next projects. It was good to be away, and now it’s good- in different ways- to be back home. Thank you all for following along, for your comments and emails, for any time you took to read what I had to say. I hope you’ll keep reading.