In true wannabe writer fashion, having spent the past three weeks living the perfect dream of travelling the sites and sounds of America, I have decided to write a blog that covers absolutely none of that.
Although I saw all the fantastic and awe inspiring monuments that the United States can offer, starting in New York, moving through Washington, Niagara and Boston, then flying to LA and covering the West Coast via the Grand Canyon and Vegas, to finish in San Francisco, the most amazing times and the most amazing discovery came from both myself and the group of people I had the pleasure of spending my time with.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson
I know it’s a cliche for people to say they went travelling and ultimately “found themselves” – a cliche I have never bought into, merely rolling my eyes and disregarding it to the Gap Yah bin of despair – but I have to say it was an experience that allowed me to be myself more than anything I’ve had within recent years. Two weeks with complete strangers – an opportunity to reinvent myself, be the best I can be, tell the craziest stories and give the most impressive speeches? Not quite. Instead, the chance to be the rawest and most true version of myself, with no pre-existing judgements or expectations to live up to, with everyone accepting me for exactly who I was right now, in this time and this present. Complete strangers thrust upon each other to rejoice in the wilderness of a strange country, sharing tents and cutlery and everything in between. New experiences given to fresh minds, all enjoyed and savoured and absorbed as one pure new memory.
I had the pleasure of sharing these experience with such a varied and beautifully colourful selection of souls. From people who should have been my best friend all my life, to characters I’d have otherwise avoided in social situations, a mix of cultures and backgrounds, homes and hearts, that all played their individual part in nurturing both myself and the holiday I was embarking on. To everyone I had the pleasure of meeting over the past few weeks, your influence on my life, however small you may believe it to be, is endless and infinite and I cannot thank you enough for the love and memories you gave me during our adventure.
“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill
Coming home, I’m instantly back in a world where life is ruled by everyone else, judgements flying from every angle, rules to be living to and the caricature the world created for you taking over, the facade of everyday living taking over the inside personality that you know you can and should be. The easy, unrestrained alteration of myself slips further and further away, the memories and happiness of the trip almost instantly eroded away by the reality of the real world and the requirement to return to social standards and responsibilities, overwhelming the otherwise euphoric yet jetlagged exterior.
It’s not often that I allow myself to step back from the hectic day to day living I have inadvertently stumbled into. I don’t remember the last time I took a proper holiday, had more than a weekend away from work and home and everything that regrettably comes with it. Although I savour free time, and try to focus on activities and stimulants for myself as a priority in life, I simply could not have ever expected the ultimate freedom that being so far away from my real life offered to me.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller
I’m sure this is exaggerated even further with those brave enough to travel purely by themselves, to volunteer in the middle of the rainforest, to venture for month long treks across deserts to climb mountains in between, and I must admit to the rather cushy and easy living that an organised holiday tour resulted in, but the freedom yet security that the other side of the world seemed to offer me has opened up my mind in ways I never would have predicted. The holiday bug has well and truly bitten me, my thoughts already craving the excitement that the past few weeks have flooded me with. And as such, with a heavy heart and even heavier eyelids, I must retreat from the fantasy land I never would have thought myself brave enough to enter, and face the reality of adult living that awaits me at 9am tomorrow morning.