You know that feeling you get in the middle of winter (granted, that feeling you get when you live somewhere that gets cold for months on end) and you’re just not… happy. There’s nothing particularly bad going on in your life, it’s just… winter and chances are you’re lacking Vitamin D or something and you’re just a little sad and you feel a bit lethargic? That’s what Month 10 has been feeling like. Again, being sick – then Andrew waking up with similar sick-ish feelings – then finding out we got a speeding ticket in South Africa- then finding out Citibank has been charging me up to $20 for each ATM withdraw. It hasn’t been good. I’ve found myself all through Month 10 going through the motions of getting up, packing our bags, and walking around a new town following a strange, but somewhat set routine. I was going through the motions much like I used to do going into work everyday. Only, we’d be in a different country every couple of weeks (sometimes days) walking around so much beauty and history and learning so much more than I ever did going to the same job day after day. It made me stop and think. I wondered if continuing this epic trip really WAS worth it or not, especially if I was being so blasé about it. It sounds crazy, I know. Many people think traveling around the world is a never-ending vacation. It must always be easy and magical and awesome, right? But the truth is- it’s SO MUCH HARDER and more challenging than I thought it would be. And sometimes – quite simply – there are days like these. Traveling around the world is no holiday.
I debated quitting the trip. Really, I did. Instead of my goal to finish a children’s book about a girl from Kentucky going around the world- what if I were to rewrite The Little Engine that Could. Only, it would be The Little Engine that Couldn’t. I mean, who needs to achieve things? What’s wrong with QUITTING? I even wondered what the point of continuing this blog everyday was. The last time I posted about a bad day (in India, involving pushy tuk-tuk drivers) I got a somewhat negative comment that the reader didn’t appreciate my lack of optimism and excitement about this trip. I tried to explain I still was excited, but it was a bad day, and especially in India, bad days happen. I reminded myself that I am NOT a travel writer (even though I KNOW travel writers have bad days, too). I’m a photographer. an artist. I wanted to document this trip as it really is- as it really can be- not a blog that sugar coats travel, the challenges involved, you know… life.
I figured I would keep traveling, but continued to debate blogging about it. Maybe that one commenter was right, who wants to read about bad travel days? I tried to convince Andrew that no one really reads the blog anyway… But he didn’t buy it. He was all “You’ve done it for this long and you’re going to quit now?”
“Yep.” I responded, obviously letting my emotions get the best of me.
I lusted after a group of friends drinking coffee outside in a cafe and told Andrew, “I wish I had friends…” He reminded me that I have them. I grumbled that it didn’t feel like it.
I checked my Instagram feed. Usually this makes me feel better. I cooed (Lit’rally, cooed) over an adorable baby picture that my friend posted. I nodded my head in agreement at one of the comments declaring adorable pictures like this one were making her baby crazy. And then narrowed my eyes when I saw that the new mom had urged her Instagram friend to “Do it” as in “Do it, have a baby.” Like it’s THAT easy. Sure, the picture makes me a little baby crazy too, and I’d like to have a baby, too- someday. But right now, I’m busy!
If you follow ME on Instagram, you’ll see just how busy I am, playing ‘Edward mug-hands’ in Bucharest. Visiting Dracula’s Castle just outside of Brasov. Photographing street art in Belgrade. And more recently roaming the streets of Montenegro and now, Croatia. I’m trying to tackle my dream of traveling around the world for one year, even if it includes trying to ignore the fact that I have a pending speeding ticket in South Africa. I have a pile of expensive American Citibank ATM fees that I haven’t had the chance to sit on a long distance phone call to the bank to take care of. I have worn the same five outfits for the past ten months. I haven’t slept in the same bed for more than three (ok, maaaaybe four) nights in a row. I can’t even go out for dinner without doing some kind of currency conversion to figure out if I can afford to eat at that particular restaurant or not. And now Instagram is telling me to “Do it, have a baby!”
As if Facebook wasn’t enough pressure, NOW Instagram, too?!?
This is my dream. This is my dream. To travel around the world for one year. I’m doing it. It’s really hard sometimes, but I can do it.
I tried to remind myself over and over again.
Andrew could tell I wasn’t in a good place. He tried to remind me how many people might not be able to relate to our feelings on this trip and perhaps they have a different view of it entirely than we do- especially on our worst day.
I’m sure he was (is) right. He usually is (even if I don’t admit it to him).
I recently wished a friend (on Facebook, of course) ‘Happy Birthday’ I told him I hoped it was awesome.
He responded “Not as awesome as a year long vacation!”
I yelled at my ipod, “VACATION?!? YOU THINK THIS IS A VACATION? THIS ISN’T A VACATION!”
I told Andrew about it. He laughed. And agreed, but reminded me how much we’re going to miss it when it’s over. I sighed. Again, knowing how right he is. He went into his usual pep-talk about this trip and all that we have learned from it. About us, and what we’ve managed to survive together. About how bored we’re going to be days when we get back to ‘merica, but how we’ll appreciate it so much more because we haven’t had a home for so long and how we haven’t been surrounded by friends for so long and how we haven’t had a coffee shop or a bar where we can simply walk in and say “I’ll take the usual” and they’ll know what we’re talking about. And not because we both speak English, but because we saw them last week and the week before that, and we ordered the SAME thing!
I heard him out and eventually I tried to focus my attention on all of the positive of this trip, instead of the ten months without a home and the related feelings that were starting to suffocate me. I focused on the emails from my friends (and family) that DO stay in touch and tried to forget about the ones who really haven’t. I focused on those who have said “Thanks!” for postcards I have sent home. I focused on Andrew’s Dad (yes, you!) who I know appreciates reading this blog (even though I know he won’t like hearing how stressed I was on this particular day). He constantly tells Andrew how much he enjoys it, and that makes me want to continue working on it.
I reminded myself of the day we spent at Angkor Wat, the day we arrived in Kathmandu and got incredibly lost only to find our way again. I remembered paragliding over the Annapurna and then finding a hole in the wall Korean restaurant after. I remember seeing the Taj Mahal for the first time and it taking my breath away, and then a month later celebrating New Years Eve in the desert outside of Dubai. I thought of Petra, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, floating in the Dead Sea, meandering through the medinas in Morocco. Sub-saharan Africa and going on not one, but two safaris. Spending a day with the Masai. I thought of meeting up with fellow travelers in Istanbul, motorbiking around Santorini, and now jumping around the Balkan States on a whim (because it’s cheaper than jumping around Western Europe).
I thought of Andrew and how lucky I have been to share all of these amazing, wonderful, beautiful moments on this trip and told myself that this day, shall too, pass.
They always do.
I find sleep (and sometimes a beer and/or a good cheeseburger) and meeting wonderful people helps.
And that’s exactly what happened. We arrived in a rainy Belgrade (from Timisoara, Romania) well after dark, but were welcomed with open arms into our latest couchsurfer hosts’ abode. Before I could even continue thinking about how hard Month 10 has been, we were recounting all of our adventures to our new friends, Vladimir and Marija. They excitedly listened like we were all old friends and both Andrew and I became equally excited hearing about their upcoming trip to The United States. It was even a bit encouraging listening to their professional accomplishments, and hearing how awesome they thought WE were for taking a chance and doing this trip. We stayed up late talking and when we finally went to sleep, Andrew and I exchanged a smile that was so full of gratitude we didn’t quite know what to do with ourselves. Other than, of course, sleep a bit better than we have in awhile…