To think that when I left Oklahoma City back in December I had never been gone from home for longer than 10 days makes it strange to collect my thoughts as I approach 200 days of traveling. What’s particularly strange is how at home I feel with this nomadic lifestyle.
I think doing something like this does one of two things to someone…either you go and see the world and you quench that thirst of travel and you are good…or you get a taste of travel and you question how you can ever return to what you were doing before.
Right now I’m leaning towards the latter…
Having just made a trip home for 13 days before we finished our Latin America stint and headed to Europe, I have been having a lot of feelings that I’ve been trying to make sense of.
You know that feeling you have when you go on a vacation and even though it’s a great vacation, towards the end you are happy that you are going home? My expectation was that this is what it would feel like to go home after being on the road for 6 months. But this was different.
Don’t get me wrong there was a tremendous amount of excitement to see friends and family and to be in OKC…but something had changed.
I’ve been trying to sort it out since.
This morning as I reflected on the year thus far and the fact that we will reach the 200 day milestone this week, I tried to think about some of the best memories of the year so far.
I thought about Buenos Aires and the exhilarating feeling of being in a new strange place by myself…of the dancing in the streets with drummers playing till the early morning…of the singing as a group outside of bars until the neighbors threatened to call the police…of the new friends who were there for me through the death of my great-grandmother…of the inspiring stories of muralists.
I thought about Cordoba and wandering the streets till early morning with new friends…of the fernet and cokes and songs on the rooftop of the workspace…of the feeling of community and being welcomed in to the homes of new friends…of the horseback riding in the Sierras and the asados.
I thought about Peru and the streets of Cusco and the elevation literally taking my breath away…of gazing out over the history in front of me at Machu Picchu…of scaling the wall of the Cusco Valley and sleeping under the stars…of the sunsets from Lima…of trying to replace my entire wardrobe in a foreign country because my bag didn’t make it…of the luck of St. Patty’s day.
I thought about Medellin and the beautiful nature everywhere…of the hike through the jungle and the waterfall repelling…of the joy of aimlessly wandering through a city and simply enjoying it…of the unwanted but still loved bottle after bottle of Aguardiente.
I thought about the beaches of Panama…of the beauty of the San Blas Islands and the winding journey through the jungle roads to get there…of my first long distance public bus ride in a foreign country…of taking the time to pause and enjoy every moment without worrying about what’s next…of letting myself love.
I thought about Bogota and flipping our raft in the river…of crawling through dark tiny caves…of the Chiva buses and the dancing…of the delicious Colombian coffee…of all of the Rappi…of understanding what it means to experience elevation for a month…and once again unwanted but still loved bottles of Aguardiente.
I thought about Mexico City and the tacos…oh the tacos…the best tacos you will ever have…of the Leon Bridges concert…of the late nights with everyone at our apartment…of mariachis and the churros…of the hike to the volcano crater and swimming in the ice cold water…of the tequila shots out of a vase and the luchador masks…of my first hot air balloon ride…of the beautiful parks and nature and the history of the pyramids.
So as I sat on the park bench here in Lisbon and thought about all of these things. I began to realize what had changed and these emotions that were askew within me began to reach some clarity.
Why have I been so taken back by these feelings around coming home? Why had that feeling of returning from a vacation dissipated after being gone for 6 months? Why did this city that pours out love and community to all who call it home feel different? Why did I still have such a strong desire within me to seek more places and cultures?
The clarity came because I realized that all of these places I have gotten to know this year have little pieces of this in them. The love and welcome that you feel in Cordoba. The pride of the city that you feel in Buenos Aires. I could name countless similarities from every place I have visited.
Learning this about these places is what has made them home to me this year. It’s what gets my heart beating with excitement every time we land in a new city and drive from the airport to our new accommodation…wondering what this month will have in store for me…what will make this city incredible and unique?
It makes sense why I wanted to get back on the road from OKC and start the Europe leg of the year. I want to meet more people and hear their past, the stories of their cities, and I want to share mine.
Home is still OKC…it’s just that home has gotten a bit bigger now and includes some other places too.