I just sat on a wall overlooking the city of Cartagena for two hours, doing absolutely nothing. And that’s how I know that I’m me again. Three and a half months after leaving Russia, I’ve finally relaxed, and relaxed enough to think.
On this occasion, I was thinking about home. And going there. And what on earth it is. In two weeks’ time, I’m due to fly back to Australia: a place I don’t want to be. And what I realised, sitting on that wall, is that I don’t know how I can ever go back. It’s like Colombia’s travel slogan: ‘the only risk is that you’ll never want to leave.’
Of course, it’s not just leaving Colombia that’s the problem. It’s the where to go to. I’m going back to Aus because [pauses for several minutes while trying to figure it out] —I guess because I don’t need a visa to work there. It’s easy in that respect, and after Russia I needed easy. I needed to go and live somewhere for a while, to feel stable for a while, I guess to steady myself. I’ve also run out of money—minor problem!
When I was still in Russia, I said to my friends that I wanted to go back and buy an apartment, maybe stay for 3-5 years before finally moving back to Europe properly. When I got to the UK I revised that: I missed UK-home so much that when a friend suggested I apply to Cambridge’s Public Policy program, I saw a way back in, and changed my plans accordingly. But now I just don’t know. I don’t know if I can go and stay somewhere for a while, or even to live in a country with so many rules. I don’t have many options—if I want to keep travelling, I have to give up on having an actual job, and go back to the mindless or short-term jobs that make me angry due to the lack of mental stimulation. And I am not being an English teacher again: much as my students are like family to me, the job itself (read: EF) drove me crazy.
It’s not just the job thing though. While being out of Russia and being in the company of men again has satisfied me (NOT word-play!!) to some extent, I do actually have room for somebody else in my life. Granted, I have some commitment issues (Like me? I’ll leave the state, if not the country. Don’t like me? I’ll follow you anywhere!), but to be fair that also applies to all other aspects of my life (as indicated by the number of plan changes you’ll have seen in this blog).
They say that ‘home is where the heart is’, but I have no idea where that is. I know Australia’s not home to me, much as my values reflect where I was brought up. And what does ‘where the heart is’ even mean? It can’t be physical, but how can it possibly be anything else? I love so many people all over the world, and I’ve left pieces of my heart everywhere: there’s no way they can ever be united in one place. The more I travel, the more this becomes the case.
I’ve said before that I don’t get nostalgic, and I don’t miss people. They’re the same thing I suppose. What’s nostalgia, but wanting times and things and places and people that can never be brought back? Once something’s happened, it’s only alive in our memory. Whenever you get back to where you were, things have changed, people have changed. It’s then a matter of getting to know them again, or of creating new memories: and this can be done on the road. Once you leave shore, things can never be the same.
And I suppose that’s it, really. As a traveller, you have to live in the moment—because you can never go home again.
You should also see this post.