When you travel blog, you spend time sorting out the parts of it that you hope to share with the folks back home. It isn’t always honest, though it’s meant to be kind. I want my friends and family to gain some of this too. I find myself in this strange space of trying to translate myself backwards. For I am a critter that changes a lot, while I am even more a critter who stays much the same.
To travel has become a gift of forgetting that I’m traveling. Realising my home’s inside my head. So, when I sit down to write or listen to the trees, I feel like here is where I’ve always been.
To travel used to be to collect for me. Now I’m learning about my greed, or at least starting to. Now, to travel is to experience. For there is no photo for later, there is only now.
No longer is it to compare. New Zealand is not America, the Alps are not the Rockies. Why am I even thinking about the phrases and prices of where I was once. I am here now.
To travel well is to notice. The calls of the birds. The changes in the night sky. The smells.
The people. The way friends meet up. The pet names mothers and fathers use for their children. It’s taking notice of how Grandma’s face always lights up when her granddaughter walks in the room. Or how John at the pub is always grumpy about the head of his porter. How same-siders sit close in restaurant booths and take in the view.
Space. Who keeps it and who doesn’t.
Power. What that word actually means to anyone. If anything.
Nature. Are we part of it or aren’t we? Are we trying to be less so? Is that the truth about us?
I hope we all can appreciate the misunderstandings. Like the time I realised I was mistaking the word “fear” for “fair” when listening to my friends talk. Or, a more fun one, the time I couldn’t tell if we were talking about beer or a bear. Which for many, would be a big difference, but for me, produces a similar smile. I hope we all can give ourselves a chance to laugh in our own faces. To realise that the soil that grew us has given us certain flavours. Which is just information. No need to call it right or wrong.
I tell you what, friends and family, I am bringing home some changes. Just in myself. I’ve learned a bit about quality, and kindness, and slowing my shit down. I’m learning to make less assumptions. Not to be in a hurry. Right now I find my recent weight gain to be lovely. For it came from a lot of good drinks with a lot of gorgeous people. It came from love. The love of bread and olives and the knowledge that I might not want to have unlimited access to those things too often. For the first time ever, I don’t mind. I’m glad for that.
My conversations with the beautiful people of Adelaide have been generous and present. We offer up the things we’re learning. I’ve learned that Americans are really hard on themselves.
That first hit me on the Te Araroa walk. It was in a hut with three lovely Germans. They marveled at my need to drop joy out of it. As though every step was owed to some ever-present viewer. Other cultures don’t see why we can’t miss the road walks. We feel like if we miss any steps, then we haven’t done it.
“According to whom?” One of them asked.
“Touche” I had to admit. It’s time to examine yourself when even the Germans are telling you that you could stand to ease up a bit.
Spending time with these ideas, I feel free. It’s no wonder its taken me 31 years to be ok with a bit of belly fat.
I sit now, in an American coffee shop and say thank you to my travels. It’s not an ending, but it’s a chapter I hope to honour.