I arrive to jet lag and ill-fitting clothing, which means my first week home is full of awkwardly early bedtimes and an excessive amount of (very short) runs around the neighborhood.
But then I slip back into my old shell of catching up with friends, and it’s almost as if I never left. Responsibility is looming, but it hasn’t caught me yet and I’m more than content to ride out the last few months of my year of unemployment.
I Skype the English boy every day, until I am blind to the fact that this—us—is impossible. More than anything, I love the feeling of looking forward to something every day. He is across an ocean, but he can still make me feel safe.
Until he doesn’t, and in that instant that morphs into minutes and hours and then days, I lose him.
It is the two I left behind and am now returning to that I call first, that talk me through another failed relationship, and I’d like to think that part of the reason I can’t stop sobbing is the irony.
And with that, without him, my trip is officially over.
This is the end of my trip, but I’m not really sure what that means yet. I am physically going back, but it will never be the same.
I’ve learned that time and distance aren’t as fixed as you might think. That money is worth less when it just sits in your bank account. That what you wear doesn’t matter at all. That the vast majority of people are bursting with kindness. That any nationality can travel like an Ugly American.
And I’ve learned that I’m still not sold on love at first sight, but traveling together in a foreign country can create it pretty fast. That some friendships can survive anything and some won’t last more than a day—and that’s mostly okay. That traveling the world is much more manageable and beautiful and thrilling than you’d ever imagine.
But most importantly, I’ve learned that the end of this trip is not the end of everything. As incredible as this year has been, this will not be the best year of my life. I won’t even say for sure that this will be the best trip I ever take. I still have too much time left for that.
I kiss the English boy goodbye with dry eyes for the first time, and I know it’s because for the first time, I actually believe that I’ll see him again.
We’re thinking November, but I’m crossing my fingers for the unlikely July.
I hitch a ride with his best friend to the bus stop an hour away, where I wait an hour and a half for the four hour bus to London. I’ve given myself a half hour transfer before my two hour bus to Brighton, which turns out to be more than enough time because it’s delayed. It takes me over ten hours to travel 200 miles as the crow flies.
I’m tired of travel—exhausted, really. The hurry-up-and-wait at check ins, the long layovers and uncomfortable bus seats, the worrying and prebooking and getting-to-know-you conversations and the awful feeling of goodbyes that are possibly forever.
My flight home in one week can’t come soon enough.