People often say that the hardest part about traveling, is saying goodbye.
Goodbye to new friends. Goodbye to new places that have touched your heart. Goodbye to your family. Goodbye to a lover.
But when you think about traveling your mind doesn’t think about the never-ending goodbyes that will soon fill your lips. Your mind instinctively fills with anticipation and excitement. You picture yourself on a beach sipping a margarita next to a beautiful tanned god or goddess. Or perhaps you’ll find yourself on a picturesque mountain range overlooking the sea. The thought that there will be times that those goodbyes, temporary places, and relationships will leave a hole in you, doesn’t even cross your mind! For some people it happens right at the beginning of their journey. For others it creeps up on you like a spider quietly spinning it’s web around your lungs until you’re gasping for air, temporarily suffering.
You begin to feel a loneliness that you never thought possible. I’m primarily referring to those of us that have been abroad for long periods of time. Months. Years. That point where “home” is more of a vague concept, rather than a place to return to.
The friends you once had have moved on with their lives. Your family has accepted your absence and continues with their daily routine only stopping to call you once a month.
Though you are surrounded by new friends, you never truly form an unbreakable bond. How could you when you are under the mutual understanding that in a years time you will separate? Maybe you do decide to invest in a special friendship or pursue that love interest you know will fail. What do you do when the inevitable happens and you go your separate ways?
Who do you call in the middle of the night weeping from the pressure building up inside you? Where do you go when you’ve built such a strong outer armor to make you seem invincible? How can you possibly show weakness and ask for help when all your friends and family think you’re having such a perfect life and aspire to live like you do, so carefree? Clearly our lives are perfect, right? Nothing could possibly be wrong when you’re living the dream! Our Facebook feeds boast of our latest adventures and exquisite cuisine, when in reality is there always a sacrifice to be made when following your dreams.
This is the struggle that no one talks about.
The people you love and leave behind.
Many of us fall in love with more than one person on our journeys. That guy on the motorcycle in Italy that made you feel like you were the most important woman on the planet. That girl in the hostel in Budapest that you connected with on a spiritual level. We all know this story.
The beautiful thing about falling in love with someone in a short period of time, and then moving on, is that you will forever have those beautiful memories. When you think back on them you will only think about the passion and joy that you felt while getting to know that person. That memory will never be tainted by the pains you feel when building a relationship with another person. They are blissfully unaware and joyful children dancing around in your mind.
But there comes a day where we cannot help ourselves and we follow one of these temporary lovers in hopes of a future together. You let down your walls and get so deeply involved only to know that there is an expiration date on your time together. How do you cope when D-day has arrived? You found a person to share the empty space with and suddenly those thoughts of far off places and golden shorelines mean nothing if they can’t be there alongside you.
They leave. You leave. You try to push on knowing that there is always another happy moment waiting for you on the horizon.
You keep walking and don’t look back.
This is the reality.
When you begin to live your life on your own and say goodbye to your old self, you must be prepared to be reborn. You wiggle out of your old shell and into a new one big enough to fill your hopes and ambitions.
You relish in the moment! Never forgetting those that you have loved and lost on the way. They are part of your story and an adornment on your new shell. And when you hit rock bottom and have broken your heart a million times in a million different places, pick yourself back up, spin the globe, and find your next destination.
You are a lover. You are a traveler. You will move on.