I’ve spent the last week and a half in Scotland, staying with a friend I met on the Camino, and feeling like I’m in a home for the first time in months.
I haven’t done much. The weather is colder than I would like, my friend is working typical business hours, and his hometown is quaint (I think that’s the nice way of saying small). But it is luxurious to have my own room, wake up late in a double bed, be treated to fancy family dinners, and be introduced to ready-made friends. Traveling is more stressful than I could’ve imagined, and I am grateful for the temporary return to “normal” life—where we go to movies and eat Chinese take-out and have a big Sunday brunch.
We spent the weekend in the Scottish countryside with his friends from university, and it was lovely. But their chat about jobs and goals and relationships and engagements was also a stinging reminder of everything I’ve given up, and as I repack my bag to head to another cold city alone, I find myself seriously questioning the value of my trade-off for the first time since I left.
What happens if I don’t find what I’m looking for? Right now, my trip still feels like just an extended vacation, and I think this lack of direction is weighing on me. I am making friends, but the time we share is so fleeting that it’s hard to imagine many of them lasting, and the ones that do will feel the strain of thousands of miles. Same with locations—I am becoming less enthused with city-hopping and starting to look into longer-stay options where I can really dig my feet in to a culture.
But really, my fear is in the terrible thought that haunts me every time I finally start to temporarily feel comfortable somewhere: what happens if I get too wrapped up and stay too long, so that by the time I finally get tired of this life, there is nowhere left that I belong and nothing left for me to go back to anymore?