Saturday, September 24, 2011

Day 320: A Lament for Home

Looking forward to my waterbed and Lola.

If you've ever eaten too much you might know how I feel. I'm stuffed– only it's my mind instead of my stomach, and my heart is starving.

The past 11 months have been, without a doubt, the most exhausting, rewarding, and developmental period of my life. I've had to rely on myself for everything whether it be; dealing with stress over where I'm sleeping, or sending out another scattering of couch requests. I've met hundreds of people, most of them have become friends, and a few of which have taken up residence in my heart. I've carried my pack all over the continent– whether hitch hiking, train, bus, or boots. I've written blog articles long enough to cross the Atlantic. I am humbly satisfied with my trip and ready to begin another phase of my life.

With less than a week to go, I've felt a drastic change in my mood. While a jovial excitement has pervaded my trip, now that I'm counting down the days I don't feel like doing anything but going home. Traveling for a year hasn't directly made me tired, but being away for my family so long and knowing that I'll see them so soon is making it difficult for me to concentrate on enjoying my environment.

I keep imagining what seeing my family will be like. For sure, I'm going to be an emotional mess– emerging from the terminal to find my family waiting there for me. Throughout this past year, beautiful experiences have been plentiful, but nothing I've experienced will compare with this reunion. The thought of going to the park with Mom and her dog McKee or having dinner with Dad and Grammy, Pop Pop, and the rest of his family makes my heart tender.

I've been traveling for so long that seeing new places is no longer exciting. Instead of going out to see Catania I am writing this lament for home. I've come to the conclusion that it's not the new places that I grow so tired of, it's meeting new people. At this moment, I don't want to meet anyone. I don't want to tell stories of my travels, I don't want to share my childhood, my favorite bands, or my political views. Lately I've felt a bit like a broken record, repeating the same sentences over and over. Now I don't say much. I want to be surrounded by people to whom I need no introduction and can laugh, cry, or complain to without preface. I want the familiar ears of my family and friends.

Hitching from this gas station in CZ was truly 'senseless'.

These feelings are not new-- though my homesickness has reached a new intensity in the last few days. I started missing home and growing tired of traveling around the time I was in Paris. Thankfully Paris was so exceptional in every regard that I forgot largely about this, but it wasn't the city itself that helped me the most. On July 14th I met Banu at a special CouchSurfing picnic in celebration of France's National Day.

Banu in her place, the tent.

You're welcome to blame the wine, but we found something in each other that fulfilled both of us. Traveling solo for 8 months had been exceptionally rich as my oneness allowed me to meet and bond with an incredible amount of people. Despite much friendship, I was lonely. Banu and I found each other at the perfect time in my trip. While I missed out on seeing many of Paris' classic attractions, I hardly cared.

Banu and I enjoying Prague's pathetic excuse for an Eifel Tower.

After a brief separation we spent the next month and a half traveling together. Her warm company filled a void in me that made traveling easier, even though we both knew our time was limited.

The couple that hitches together gets rides together.

It was a rough day at the airport in Krakow when she flew back to Paris, leaving me waiting for my flight to the Sicily.

Now that I'm alone the surppressed feelings of homesickness have resurfaced in the form of straps that hold me to the hostel bed.

I don't feel like it. I don't want to learn language. I don't want to meet new people. I don't care about local cuisine. I don't want to hitch hike. I don't want to send out CouchSurfing requests. I don't want to keep traveling. All I want to do is go home, despite the little voice in the back of my head that tells me I'll miss all this.

Thanks for listening.

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