Home Sweet Home

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”  Terry Pratchett

After being on the road for nine months there are many benefits to being home and alongside the obvious ones of seeing family and friends, it’s been the hundreds of little things which I’ve been enjoying.

The joys of a hot bath, a full fridge and a dose of reality tv should never be under-estimated. I’ve also had a brilliant time getting reacquainted with my wardrobe and, having worn the same five outfits during most of my trip, the possibilities now seem endless. (Although I have become weirdly attached to my travelling clothes and things that during my trip I couldn’t wait to get rid of, I’ve now become a bit sentimental about.)

The downside, of course, is the fact that I now how to sort through ten years worth of stuff I dumped back at home in a panic before setting off on my trip.

So just the small task of sorting this lot out now…
…oh, and this as well!

The other nice thing about being back is that, after months of seeing places through the eyes of a visitor, I’m really appreciating the country I live in. It’s been more than ten years since I lived in Scarborough and the other day I went to meet friends on the beach.

Granted, it was a sunny day and I might not have had the warm fuzzy feeling had it been chucking it down with rain, but as I walked around the corner and saw the view for the first time of Valley Bridge framing the sea and sand it really did make me stop and think that had I been in another country I’d have taken a photo of it…

…so I did.
(Not sure how much of a tan you’d get though.)
Even now I’m really enjoying going on a train journey – mainly because they don’t take three days and you don’t wake up with someone sitting on your feet (China) – but also because the views are so pretty.
It hasn’t, of course, all been plain sailing though and the fear of being jobless continues to loom over me; as does the mountain of paperwork which has piled up since I’ve been away. Suddenly the days are flying by, filled with to-do lists and the slow pace of my trip, where the hardest decision I had to make was where to go the next day, suddenly seems a long time ago.
In fact, my whole trip sometimes feels like a distant dream. At the time it felt like such a big thing to be doing but now I sometimes find myself double checking whether I actually did it. As I catch up with friends everyone keeps asking me how it was and I often find myself at a loss for words, before finally settling on “yeah, it was good”. Which is clearly a completely inadequate way to describe the last year but suddenly it feels impossible to sum up every country, every experience and every person I met along the way.
People have tried to help by narrowing it down with questions like: “What was your favourite country?”, “Where would you definitely go back to?” and “Were there any places you hated?” But even these questions throw me into a mild panic. Did I prefer the kindness of the people in Burma or the spirit of South America? Do the gorgeous landscapes of New Zealand outweigh the craziness of China? Every place was so unique and different and brilliant in its own way, but it would take a lifetime to explain it all and, let’s face it, no one wants to listen to that many travel stories.
Hmm…did I prefer the tea in Burma…
…or in China?
But then at other times I’ll be walking along the street and I’ll suddenly get a flashback of trying to salsa dance with a man in a puffa jacket in a Peruvian nightclub or watching a fireshow on a beach in Thailand with my sister.
Or I’ll remember one of the other travellers I met in a hostel or think back to a conversation I had on a bus and suddenly I find myself breaking into the biggest grin. Because I did it! And even though I was scared before I set out and there were days that were hard and moments I wondered whether I could actually complete this crazy adventure, I did.

A brilliant day with my sis, getting soaked during the Songkran festival in Thailand.

Some people say that travelling changes you and I met others on my trip who were trying to ‘find themselves’. But I’m not sure I’ve changed that much. It may have made me a little bit braver and a little less stressed (maybe?). But it certainly hasn’t helped with my terrible sense of direction (I’ve lost count of the number of times since I’ve been back that my friends have asked: “Em, how did you actually manage to make it around the world by yourself?”) and I’ll always be the girl who talks a bit too loudly and a bit too much.

That’s not to say that things haven’t changed back at home. People always tell you that ‘nothing changes’ while you’re away but I don’t think that’s the case. During my trip friends had babies and others got married and suddenly everyone feels very grown up. But it’s been so much fun to meet up with them all again and catch up on nine months worth of gossip, safe in the knowledge that some things never change.