Coming home isn’t going to to be easy. It will be welcomed, seeing familiar faces after 5 months will be one of the greatest joys; sleeping in my bed after months of hostel ‘mattresses’ will be divine; eating my favorite meals I’ve missed will be delicious. But adapting to a life I put on the back burner for so long will be a challenge. Many go on a trip around the world hoping questions will be answered, searching for truths and looking for inspiration. While I left 5 months ago with these thoughts in my head, I return with a completely different bank of knowledge.
I didn’t ‘find’ myself while backpacking. Questions that I left home with are still unanswered. But what I did learn was a deep appreciation for what I have at home, and a greater longing for exploring and searching for things within my own city’s walls.
I have spent a great deal of time on trains, planes and buses, scooting from one city to the next in anticipation for the great sites that lie in front of me. I have seen the Taj Mahal in all it’s glory, and it’s just as stunning in person as they say it is. The beaches of Thailand, albeit overruled by tourism, are just as vivid as the pictures show. The hillsides of Laos are smokey and dry, and the winding roads have made me question whether or not I’ll make it to the next destination. I’ve learned how to navigate through hundreds of motorbikes in the streets of Hanoi, mastering the craft of crossing the street in Vietnam. I have seen the temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and pondered the age of trees growing through the great stone ruins. And I have lived in a house on the rice paddies of Bali, sipping hot Balinese coffee while watching the workers under the sun in their conical hats.
Everyday was a constant search for activities, excitement and newfound stimulation while traveling Asia. I am determined to take that sense of adventure home and introduce it to my daily lifestyle. Work will be work, and I will strive to find uncertainty in the routine I must keep to make money, but I won’t let the seemingly mundane keep me from exploration. Everyone I’ve met while traveling had a funny story to share, a favorite activity to try, a delicious restaurant to suggest. And so do my friends at home. I want to open my eyes to the possibilities that lie just beyond my backyard.
I never want to let the idea of happiness through exploration and the power of creating lasting relationships go. Getting out and seeing something new, or reliving something old with a great friend by your side is the cherry on top. We are fortunate enough to live in a world that is constantly evolving and always thriving, and I want to know my city better than anywhere else.
So for now, I say goodbye to the backpacking lifestyle. It is time to go home and watch the world around me in the same way I do while traveling. I don’t want to take for granted the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, the beautiful sunsets that wash over the Manhattan Beach sky. I want to drive through traffic into LA and revel at the street side graffiti as I make my way up the hills of Hollywood, hoping to catch a view of the downtown skyline all lit up.
Sure, I’ll be saying hello to a life of rent checks and routine, but I’ll welcome it with open arms, as I know the adventure never ends. I have the best of friends awaiting and the whole of California at my fingertips, and I couldn’t be more excited to head home.
[Be sure to check out the blog in the next coming weeks. Daniel is heading to Mongolia to film a documentary and will surely have many stories and photos to share!]