When we landed in LAX the symmetry of what we had just done didn’t quite hit me. It was a few hours later, after showering in our (comparatively) luxurious bathroom and getting into our plush bed, that I realized how almost one year to the day had passed since the last time we arrived here.
Places hold memories, and this bedroom is full of nervous nights – thinking about what to take with us and what to leave behind – trying to imagine what our life would be like for the proximate future. I relive those thoughts and can’t help but sigh in relief. We accomplished something and have the satisfaction of coming out on the other side unscathed.
But for me, the symmetry of us being here again is charged with anxiety over the legacy of our trip. There’s a saying (perhaps a little cliched now) that goes around the backpacker community: upon returning home from a trip, one finds that the only thing that changed during your absence was you. This can certainly be baffling, as sometimes the sheer length of time that you’ve been away demands that something has changed. And yet, your friends and loved ones continue their lives in the same way – your trip destined to be an awkward hole in your relationship with them.
The fear that we’ve somehow traveled 13,000+ miles only to end up in the exact same place, with very little physical evidence that we did much at all – that horrible symmetry – is really what greeted me during our first day here. But as quickly as it consumed me, it fled. I sighed with relief because this time around we aren’t leaving for a year-long trip. Instead, we will continue our glorious victory lap up the west coast – visiting people that we care about and sharing our stories. It’s with a certain satisfaction that I realize I’m not worrying about my future. I’m not stressing about the next step. My mind feels more clear. The most wonderful thing is that Sheena and I made it through this crazy thing and we’re going home together.
I guess I realized that I don’t want to focus on messy legacies. What we did was very real and tangible to Sheena and I – we can reach out and touch it. So while the near future is unknown to us, and we may look around at our cities and neighborhoods and realize that nothing much has changed, I feel comfortable with that. Travel is a funny thing – something maybe best served to play tricks on your mind – but I believe it to be a worthwhile endeavor. Thanks so much for following along during the last year. I hope you’ll miss reading as much as I’ll miss posting.