“The second half of a mans life is made up of nothing but habits he has acquired during the first half.”Fyodor Dostoevsky
1 week before you leave: you’re the happiest, most beautiful, and most free you’ve ever felt… while spontaneously bursting into tears at odd and inappropriate times.
2 days before you leave: you have random mini panic attacks interspersed with feeling really excited about all the food you’re about to eat and clothes you’re going to wear when you get home.
on the plane home: you’re binge eating crackers and trail mix, binge listening to nostalgic music, and obsessively thinking about how comfortable your bed is going to feel.
getting off the plane: you have a level of excitement coursing through your veins that gives you an overwhelming desire to throw up and pee at the same time.
1st day back: you’re squealing and bear-hugging everyone in sight, feeling all the love, and eating all the banana muffins.
2nd day back: you feel disbelief mixed with happiness in how many pant options you now have, and disbelief mixed with confusion in how none of those pants fit you anymore. you take the best shower you’ve ever had, and dry yourself with the fluffiest towel you’ve ever felt.
3rd day back: you spend all day cooking your favourite foods and dancing to your favourite music. you’re feeling totally unqualified to drive but do it anyways. you get excited to see all of your friends and do all of your favourite activities.
4th day back: you remember that you don’t really have friends around here anymore, and all of your favourite activities can’t actually be done here. you think about all of the friends you said goodbye to abroad and how you may never see them again. you miss them, and the person you were when you were traveling. you cry silent tears.
5th day back: extreme boredom sets in. you need to leave the house- now, so you decide to get get coffee. everyone at the coffee shop stares at you like you’re from another planet, and you wonder if maybe you are? some guy in construction boots asks where you’re from. you say you’re from here- he doesn’t believe you, and you don’t really believe you, either. you wonder if you’ll always feel like this much of a freak. you take way too long to order a coffee, because none of the drinks on the menu are familiar to you. you look around for other things you might recognise but everything looks different. you wonder if everything really is different, or if it’s only you that’s different. you cry in your (parents) car on the way home.
6 – 10th day back: you read some books, go on walks, ask everyone you know to hang out with you, meditate, binge watch Leonardo Dicaprio movies in the afternoon, dance in the kitchen, sleep in, download tinder cause, what the hell, and feel okay for a little while.
11th day back: you notice that everything you say makes people uncomfortable and slightly irritated. you try to act normal but somehow this makes people even more annoyed. you forget how to make small talk, forget how to talk at all, and feel so lost and uncomfortable inside of your own brain that you temporarily loose your breath. you forget how to act like a human being, try to articulate how you’re feeling and realise that you can’t, feel like the loneliest, smallest soul on the planet, silently implode, and suddenly feel extremely angry for reasons you can’t quite place. you pull yourself together, take photos of the sunset, and cry soft tears into your pillow that night.
12 – 14th day back: you decide to ignore all of your sad and obsessive thoughts by reading two books in three days and eating entire bags of dill pickle potato chips for dinner.
15th day back: you book a spontaneous haircut with a hairdresser you don’t know and wish for the best.
16 – 19th day back: you make pizza for yourself three nights in a row, visit with old friends, wear see-through blouses tied up as crop tops in the middle of the day and pretend that no one is judging you, even though they most definitely are. you go on walks, marvel at the sunsets, and giggle while watching a family of beavers eat some sticks.
20th day back: you have a vulnerable, heartfelt conversation with someone who is able to empathise with what you’re going through, dream about the future for the first time in what seems like forever, and feel a million pounds lighter.
21st- 24th day back: you take a trip to the lake, watch reality tv with your grandma, read a book about birds before bed and spend the mornings watching them, learn how to fly a kite, sing in the car, have your dad spin you so fast on the jungle-gym that you feel like you’re going to throw up, and talk about aliens while looking at the stars. you feel as unsure as ever about your plans for the future, but for the first time, completely certain that wherever life takes you, it will be full and exciting and beautiful.
you feel human again.*
*If this seems like it was way too easy, I just want to remind everyone of the last time that I returned home after a year and a half of traveling abroad, where I scream-cried all over Saskatchewan for 5 months straight, wrote emo poetry in local coffee shops, and sped down gravel roads and sobbed in an attempt to release pent up rage over being stuck in a place I felt like an alien in, without any money to get me out. I went through phases where I hated my body, hated my job, hated my privilege, and hated myself. I felt ashamed that I was having such a hard time with it all, had no idea who I was, where I was going, or what I wanted, and felt like I had failed myself. I was depressed, angry, and anxious.
Nine months after returning home, I finally faced the anger, disappointment, and most importantly, shame inside of me, and stopped ignoring my most painful feelings. This led to the emotional breakdown I desperately needed, and turned out to be the most life changing and healing time period of my life. With lots of patience, self-reflection, crying, and forgiveness, I pulled myself through it. This process transformed me into the lightest, most whole, grateful, radiant, healthy version of myself I’d ever been, and I moved on with my life and into the future with hopefulness and joy.
My transformation from world traveler to sobbing alien to depressed apartment dweller to high-on-life-bird-watcher took a full year and a half, maybe even more, and 80% of the process was straight pain and struggle. All of it was worth it.
Returning home is going to be a different experience for each one of us depending on what we experienced while we were away, and what we need to learn, but we must remember that comparing our lives to others serves no one; we are all on our own journey with our own timelines. So instead of comparing, let’s try to embrace where we’re at, feel the feelings, scream-cry if we need to, eat potato chips for dinner if we need to, and know that whatever we’re experiencing, someone else has gone through the same thing too- and they survived (and most likely came out stronger and more whole on the other side.)
Even when we feel like the loneliest, most misunderstood, most confused human being on earth; even when we feel like our heart has been ripped in two and left on opposite sides of the planet; even when we feel like weepy, freaky aliens – we’re not the first people to feel this way, and we won’t be the last, either.
Long term traveling is not for the faint of heart, and returning home is probably the hardest part of it all that no one wants to talk about; but if travel has taught us anything, it’s that we are adaptable and clever and resilient and capable of holding space for a multitude of complex emotions within our hearts at once. Travel has shown us how to have perspective when everything is crumbling down and we feel like we can’t recognise a single part of our life or ourselves anymore, and shown us that sometimes the most painful and confusing times in life are also the periods where we experience the most growth.
We see the shiny profiles of influencers and know that travel looks absolutely nothing like that, but instead it is 100x grittier and 1000x more beautiful, and we actually like it that way. We travel to far off places to find answers, but end up realising that what we actually needed all along was simply to let go. We travel because it’s breathtaking and it’s scary and it’s humbling and it’s fulfilling, not because it’s easy… and we know, above all else, that we are not alone, and we will get through it.
On the road, every week feels like a month- a rebirth every seven days, and I slip in and out of love so effortlessly it takes my breath away.
The connections we form, born out of reckless vulnerability, naive optimism, and shameless late-night flirting under the blood moon are as fiery as they are new, and then just like that- with the same intensity that they began,
And I’m on the next bus, to the next place; taking the next trip, to the next love.
Suddenly, abruptly, my hair a mess- coiled tightly on top of my head, a breezy afternoon car ride, your kind eyes and warm embrace, a passionate kiss at 2am against a muraled wall, become only memories- comforting thoughts to be recalled of dreamily, in hushed tones, with a smile. Forever unsure what could have come of this connection had I stayed.
But I never stay.
Each young romance leaves me feeling lighter, infatuated, and high off of the rush; sick with love, hungover, and craving for more.
We promise to meet again one day, but know that we won’t- understand that it’s better if we don’t. Better if we leave this delicate romance untouched, unmarked, encapsulated perfectly in time.
The memories of our brief affair become merely a soft spot for our hearts to land when the realities of life are too harsh, forming a warm blanket to cradle our fears and offer our hurt some rest.
For months afterwards, the recollection of these pretty little romances flicker in and out of my mind like a black and white movie- beautiful, tender, timeless, yet easily traded in for the next new thing.
And then every once and a while, without warning,
there it is…
a rare love.
A special love.
My mouth salivates. I am no longer starving.
These are the romances I recall of years after they’ve ended- nostalgically, longingly, in full colour HD; fully engrossed in the short-lived romance we once had.
Yearning for what once was; what could have been. Begging for more.
Cursing at the oceans that seperate us.
Resenting the moon I so easily fell into another mans spell under, knowing the lovers I yearn for are looking up at the same moon; knowing that the man with kind eyes in front of me can never make me feel the way that they once did,
but hoping that they can.
Thinking back upon these connections makes my heart ache in a way I can’t describe. Full of immense joy for the moments we had, but longing to know what could have been had we both stayed.
Why didn’t we stay?
…why do I never stay?
I ask myself a question I already know the answer to…
my need for freedom far outweighs any desire I have for romance, and that is a truth that will always be. Without freedom I would starve, crumble, wilt- I could never survive.
The nourishment I need to thrive comes from new experiences, new country’s, new language’s- the unknown, the rush. Adventure provides the calories I need to sustain my breath in a way that no lover ever could.
Some days I wonder if I am an addict- always chasing the next best thing. High off the sugar rush and quickly crashing down; craving more. Knowing deep in my heart that this can’t be all there is.
Lusting for someone who can run just as far, just as fast, just as furious as I can and not loose their breath, but gain more; become fuller. Someone who can not only keep up, but push me further, pull me deeper, take me higher.
Chasing a high I’m not sure even exists.
Craving a feeling I have never felt, but know that I am capable of.
A love that I am worthy of.
I am wise enough not hold my breath waiting for the unknown- life is too beautiful a thing to miss out on chasing something I’ve never seen.
Besides, my cup is already overflowing.
Life is already happening, every day, right in front of me. The beauty, the pain- it’s all love. Love surrounds me.
Love is swirling around me like a whirlpool, crashing my body into it’s shore, pulling me out, then back again, then out once more. The same water that draws me into it’s currents also flows through my veins- we are one.
I am built of love. A small piece of an infinite puzzle- white hot. Too beautiful to look at directly; an energy connecting us all.
Romance may come and go, but the well of love remains deep inside of me, an endless reserve rooted deep within my soul. Bursting.
I am the source of all of the love in my own world.
Giver and receiver.
The lover is me.
Yes, friends! I’m alive and well. My name is Lindsey and I’ve been ghosting this beautiful little space on the web for far too long, but ghost no more. Bestie JS, thank you for inspiring with your post. Now that it is 2019, I thought I would take a couple of minutes to do a little recap of what I was thankful for in 2018. Here it is… are you ready?
Twenty eighteen, thank you for:
- random encounters with people on the street (hi, french boys)
- the montréal metro
- bumble. you brought me more entertainment and random dates than i could have ever imagined
- peppermint tea
- the worst kiss and the best kiss
- all the prairie sunsets
- swimming in the river
- my legs. oh, the places you took me this year. thank you, bod
- my yoga mat
- the untethered soul … you changed the way i live my life
- fresh mexican mangoes
- a fully stocked kitchen
- google maps. i’d probably be stuck in a forest if it wasn’t for ya
- freshly baked bread
- beers in the park
- my swell water bottle
- meeting new friends at cafes
- clary sage essential oil
- earpods. the real deal, friends. worth every single penny
- the best veggie burger my mouth has ever tasted
- finally seeing newfoundland. you’ve been on my list for over a decade
- the smell of the ocean
- teaching me how to sleep in a hammock
- seeing the stars
- feeling the sun on my face
- laughing the hardest I’ve ever laughed… ever!
Wow! You were quite the year. So many random adventures. Roadtrippin’ around Mexico, camping on the beaches, hiking and hitchhiking all around Newfoundland, seeing Sheryl Crow perform at the Winnipeg Folk Fest (btw, she killed it!), going back to school and eventually moving to Montreal. Thank you for the best year thus far. You were the sweetest!
Well… now that it’s 2019 let’s get this party started. I have a feeling, my friends. Cue all the glitter, laughs, dancing, blissful moments and pumpkin pie. THIS IS GOING TO BE THE BEST YEAR OF OUR LIVES.
Hola mi amigas! Since we’re such good friends and all, I wanted to share something that I haven’t spoken about much before- online or with friends. You ready?
The last time I went traveling for 1 and 1/2 years, I gained 20 pounds.
At the time I didn’t really realize. I knew my body had changed and I felt a little weird about it, but I wasn’t sure exactly how much until I returned home and literally NONE of my clothes fit me anymore… So what did I do? I bought new pants, and continued on with my life. Then, while I was living back home over the next year, I lost 20 pounds, so… I bought new pants, and continued on with my life.
Now that I’ve been traveling Mexico for roughly 6 weeks, I can notice my body changing all over again. My cheeks are a little rounder, my hips are a little wider, and my bra’s are doing their best to keep up with it all (Thank you, thank you, thank you to my bra’s – You’re my most loyal friends. I love you).
Are you wondering why I’ve never spoken about this weight fluctuation before? Because it doesn’t fucking matter, that’s why. The reason I don’t talk about my weight is the same reason that I don’t talk about the colour of my eyes, or the size of my shoes, or the length of my hair; because it’s completely irrelevant to my quality of life and overall happiness.
Another funny thing about weight (and most everything else), is that other people are way too obsessed with their own to ever worry about yours. You might think that everyone will notice and ask you about the changes you see in your body, but I’m here to tell you- they wont.
When my body changed the first time, no one even noticed! Not one person noticed when I gained the weight, and no one noticed when I lost it, either. I don’t remember anyone saying anything to me about it the entire time, and if I ever brought it up, people seemed shocked and surprised.
Did my friends still love me just the same when I returned home from traveling, 20 pounds heavier? No, they loved me more, because I was smarter, funnier, more confident, more cultured, and just an all around happier person because of my experiences abroad.
Did the extra weight mean I had a lack of boys wanting to make out with me? Hell no. Any boy who see’s me naked should count himself BLESSED no matter how much I weigh, and they know it, too.
Here’s a little secret for you my friends- people are attracted to confidence in yourself and vitality inside of your soul, not pant size. Here’s another secret- you don’t need validation from anyone. You are already a perfect, beautiful, angel, and your weight does not define you.
It never has and it never will.
That being said, I’m still just a regular person, and sometimes I feel a little weird about my body changing, so something I like to ask myself when I notice these changes is “why did I decided to travel in the first place?”
Did I go traveling so that I could be skinny and photogenic and have shinny hair and perfect skin and an Instagram feed full of selfies? No! I’m a regular human being. I went traveling so that I could make friends, enjoy my life, experience the culture, learn the language, eat the food! drink the drinks!! kiss the boys!!! dance the dances!!!! And now please tell me, how the hell am I supposed to do all of that while I also worry about my weight? I’m too busy living my life and having fun to worry about something so pointless and insignificant as a few extra pounds.
Life is too beautiful a thing to miss out on by stressing over the small stuff.
Yes, mezcal and lack of sleep and fried corn in all it’s forms can help to add a few pounds to the body, but that’s kind of the point of being in Mexico, no? How boring would it be if I never tried the local food, never drank the drinks, never ate tacos at 7am after a long night of dancing, and if I got 9 hours of sleep every night? Let me tell you… I did not come to Mexico to get 9 hours of sleep a night, okay?
Alright, alright, so that’s all fine any everything, but before you (Mom) think anything crazy, let’s get one thing straight here- when I talk about not caring, it’s about my weight, not my health.
My health is always and forever my number one priority.
My body and I- we are besties- and I plan to take care of, treasure, and respect it, just like my body loves, respects, and takes care of me
I’m still eating a ton of vegetables, I’m still drinking water, I’m still doing yoga, I’m still meditating, I’m still sleeping, I’m still listening to my body and giving it what it needs.
The thing about health is this – it has just as much to do with what you put in your mind as what you put in your body. Mental health is obviously extremely important, and at least for me, I would rather eat the chilaquiles and drink the margarita every now and again than stress about exactly what it’s doing to my body. What do you think is worse for you, an extra 7 pounds, or a lifetime of stress?
So yeah, my body is changing, and it really, truly, does not matter. In fact, MY ENTIRE LIFE IS CHANGING. Everything is different; my whole life is expanding, the world is opening up to me.
It’s called growth- the best way to measure if something is alive.
My body is changing, and it’s okay.