"Coming Back to Where You Started is Not the Same as Never Leaving"

Sometimes I downplay our trip. I think, 'it's not enough time' and 'we're only seeing one corner of this huge world'. I realize I shouldn't think this way, but thoughts of home and this journey ending has me all emotional. Despite how long these 3 months have felt, and the insane number of incredible experiences we've had, hitting our halfway mark a few weeks back has reminded me the end is real, and its coming. We've met people who've figured out a way to stay on the road for years at a time. Some sold everything, some are working abroad. It's a brave thing to be away for that long. But I've reached a point that I understand it, and am getting comfortable enough to say, I could totally do that too (under the right circumstances). It's a life of unfamiliar things that you feel strangely connected to, even though you know it can't replace your home.

I think often about how many different options exist for how humans can survive, and live, and thrive. It's ironic that so many of us are convinced we have so few. Being on the road, you see first hand the diversity of paths people choose to pursue. For as much as I know about the world, I am humbled, as I pull up into a new town or city or village so far from my home, by how little I actually know. And that reminds me that there has to be more possibility out there than any of us can imagine.

I gained this perspective when I moved back from NYC as well. There are the people in this world who can get up and go and never look back. Then there are others who could never even imagine stepping out their front door. We all have our reasons for how we are, but I've never met anyone who had a negative experience by getting away from the familiar for awhile. It makes me think maybe it is a fear of failure; that eventually you'll end up back home. But that's not failure. It's your life taking its course.

I've found a rhythm in traveling that feels very natural. I've found a strange, comfortable home in the movement. A week here, a ferry there, a flight back. I think much of it comes back to Brandon. We have solidified so much of our relationship here. His willingness to do anything and everything has made our time here full of many unexpected victories and memories. We are living off the cuff; by the seat of our pants; ready to do anything on a whim. It's a crazy, exciting and beautiful life.

It also leads me to wondering how in the hell I'm going to re-acclimate to a "normal" life in less than two months. I can't imagine going back to being the same person. I'm actually surprising myself by I'm saying that, because it's not something I expected from this trip, but it couldn't be more true. I am changed. And I will continue to be changed by this experience. I'm braver, I'm stronger, I'm more grateful, I'm more confident, and my heart couldn't possibly hold more love and excitement for my life. I've been happily surprised by how much of myself I've found in a place that is so far from everything I've lived through back home.

Beyond the fear and anxiety of stepping back into "normal life", I am excited to go home. I'm excited to see my life there with new eyes. I'm excited to reignite my relationships with the things I love to do, and with the people I love to do them with. To bring new perspective to old ideas.

My extended travel schedule has kept me forgetful of days and I easily ignore the time as it passes. There have been times in my life when the pull of time was so strong, it was painful. After losing my dad, I couldn't imagine living all of the remaining minutes of my life without him. I could feel the seconds pass, and the length of days felt unbearable. As I was hiking the other day, I realized it had been days since I had checked the time. I thought about how if we all spent our time doing the things that make our hearts happy, we'd never have time to think of our mortality. We'd live boldly until one day we'd accidentally gaze into a mirror to see our aging faces and be full, and not sad.

In March, when I step out of the car on to my driveway back in North Tonawanda, I want to find a new rhythm. One that probably (definitely) won't come with much money, and maybe not much security, but one that will allow me to end my days feeling full, and grateful.

Choose your path wisely; you only get one.

-Steph