The past few weeks, I’ve been working on a major photo project – condensing our 11,000+ photos into a more palatable 841-photo slideshow of our round-the-world travels. Starting in the airport in Seattle on September 16, 2013, ending with our last photo in Lisbon, Portugal, just last week. We just returned back to the U.S. after 10 months of international travel. It’s been a good project to keep me sane during this transition.
About half way through our travels, we made a decision to come back to the U.S. instead of our original plan to travel to Mexico for a couple months before heading home. We rarely get a chance to see Shawn’s family back east and we figured it would be nice to fit some visits in while we still had time and a little money left. It’s really worked out well for the most part because not too long ago, we hit a bit of a travel wall. I wouldn’t say we were totally burnt out on travel, but it wasn’t too far from the future and instead of reaching a new city excited to explore, we were spending a lot more time streaming TV shows and making indoor picnics instead of going out. (This could also be because we were in Europe where prices were a little shocking after Asia.) The timing of our return came at a good time.
That isn’t to say that the transition has been easy. We landed in Boston and stayed with a friend of mine for a couple nights before a long travel day of switching buses in NYC to head to Binghamton, NY, Shawn’s hometown. We’ve been enjoying the spoils of staying with his parents’ home – we get fed with wonderful comfort food, they won’t let us do the dishes, we have a comfortable room. It’s been a treat.
Out to dinner with the family the evening we arrived
In some ways, it doesn’t feel any different than any of our other visits.
This is why I’m glad I have the photo project. There’s a part of me that feels like nothing has changed. I still feel like me – in fact, I feel more like me than I ever have been before. We’ve kept in regular contact with Shawn’s parents, so we’re pretty up-to-date with what they’re doing. It doesn’t feel weird. That’s weird. The photos have reminded me that I’ve been places. I’ve done things. Things I never thought I would do. Places I never thought I’d see. They are part of me now. Yes, I am definitely me and that hasn’t changed drastically, but I’m now me with all these experiences.
Being back isn’t all bad
I doubt I have fully comprehended how these things have changed me or what lessons I’ve learned about the bigger picture. Maybe I’m in denial or shock or something. I feel unsettled. We used to have this goal of saving to travel around the world. Then we were travelers, spending a year abroad. We’re still traveling and I believe that the traveler mindset will always be a part of me – but now I’m floating a bit in space. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a strange thing. We’re not trying to plan the next steps to get back out to travel. We have ideas, but no plans. For someone like me that can be intimidating. But as I’ve learned over our months on the road, sometimes that kind of freedom can be intimidating, but usually you just have to take a step and see what happens.
Hey, maybe I did learn something.