As much as I’d like to let everyone think otherwise, I’m not perfect. Over the past 8 months of traveling after I quit my traditional job, I’ve learned a lot. A lot about how to do things efficiently while traveling, a lot about how to make international travel easy, and a lot about how to manage caffeine consumption to make it all work.
Most of all, though, I’ve learned a lot about myself. It’s likely that I was already the relatively self-aware sort, given my penchant for dismissing anything remotely traditional or – as I see it – illogical, but that doesn’t mean knowledge of self ever stops growing, and so, I’ve recently learned that despite having the introspection and good sense to know that a traditional life of a husband, white picket fence, 2.3 kids and a stable job wasn’t going to be the life for me, I haven’t had enough introspection and good sense to find any kind of significant balance since I’ve been on the road. I’m either working all the time or not at all, sightseeing until it all looks the same or not at all, and either having the best time of my life or the worst. I’m not sure I actually possess a medium speed. Sad.
Anyway, even realizing this about myself is pretty clutch (does anyone say clutch anymore?) but it also led me to an even greater discovery: I am not indefatigable. I get tired and cranky and annoyed of traveling. In an ideal world I would have just gotten on a plane and not looked back. But here are another two important realizations I’ve had: I’m never going to be the type of person that ignores familial commitments and I’m never going to be the type of person that can just leave my puppy for months at a time.
Don’t get me wrong: my puppy is having the time of her life with my sister at my parents’ house and she has the best life in the world. However, she is my puppy. She is my responsibility. And more than that, she’s been my best friends almost all six years of her existence and it’s not fair to leave her for months at a time.
I’ve struggled with this since I started jaunting abroad. On the one hand, I adopted her with my huge douche of an ex-husband who – despite his claimed theoretical compassion for animals – walked out on her when he walked out on me. So when I adopted her, I thought I would be co-parenting. It’s a really different thing to “parent” a pup alone. Because of that, while my mom knows how much I love her, she encouraged me to go travel and not feel bound down every minute because of Holly. Even good parents, she said, take breaks from their kids. I love Holly more than life itself but was going crazy in my old life. My mom thought me living the life I wanted more would be good for us both. And she she is right – but on my travels, I’ve met people who leave their dogs with family or friends for 6 months or a year. I’ve realized that’s not me. I miss her too much and feel too connected to the responsibility to just go off like that.
And, as mentioned, the other thing is familial commitments. When my family needs me, I come back or when they ask me to not make plans while they figure everything out, I don’t. I’m never going to be the type of traveler that just disregards everyone’s needs but my own – it’s just not me.
And because of that, well, I’m tired. Instead of just going and being gone, I’ve been flying back and forth to the states (also – round trip flights are so much cheaper). So I’m effing tired, four countries in two months is a lot.
Couple all of that with the fact that the world is ending around us (because of President Cheeto Von Tweeto’s new policies) and the fact that people need a lot of help right now, and I decided to ground myself for a minute. Situations like our current political climate remind me that I feel like it’s impossible to ignore what’s happening around you, even if you are not that politically-involved. Being that I am and have always been very politically involved, it has become difficult to be traveling abroad on new adventures when I feel drawn to being active and useful on the ground in my own country.
Right now, I’m not planning to be grounded too long (actually, just three weeks), but long enough to catch my breath, get some volunteer work up and running and meet some commitments I’ve made. I was going to go from Guatemala to Belize, but decided first to come back to the States after some time in Antigua. After a brief reprieve, I’ll jet off on my next jaunt to Peru and Santiago.
For now, though, I’ve re-learned two more life lessons: I’m not indefatigable, and I care about a lot more than just myself.
And, right now, we could all use a little more compassion.