“Then a mason came forth and said, “Speak to us of Houses.”
And he answered and said:
Build of your imaginings a bower in the wilderness ere you build a house within the city walls.
For even as you have home-comings in your twilight, so has the wanderer in you, the ever distant and alone.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless. Does not your house dream? And dreaming, leave the city for grove or hilltop?
Would that I could gather your houses into my hand, and like a sower scatter them in forest and meadow.
Would the valleys were your streets, and the green paths your alleys, that you might seek one another through vineyards, and come with the fragrance of the earth in your garments.
But these things are not yet to be.”
– Kahil Gibran, The Prophet
I’ve been back in my hometown for not two weeks, and the past seven months of my life could have been a dream. To call it ‘home’ feels wrong, the feel of the word clunky in my mouth. It is Winter here, and on multiple occasions I have found myself smiling to myself in disbelief as I walk home at how incredible it is… I have experienced the most brutal Winter of my life at the beginning of the year, and this temperature, this climate, pales in comparison. It is but a slightly colder Spring. Agreeable, if a tad grey. When I finished my trip I was burnt out, ready to return home, to cease travel. I’d been on the go for three and a half months of constantly living out of a backpack, and seven months since I’d boarded a flight that would take me far from this place to study on the other side of the world.
I’m eternally grateful for every single experience, and it was fun to be home for a couple of days. Now it is not so fun. Likewise with the term ‘travel burnout’, I never truly believed that ‘post-travel depression’ was a true phenomenon, or at least a phenomenon that I was susceptible to, until it happened. I’m bummed, grey, and apathetic. I feel every connection from a distance… as if there is a thin wall between myself and the friends I left behind. This world has not changed, the drama has stayed the same. I do not care for small talk, petty complaints or people who say, say, say. I broke up with “say” when I met an enchanting creature on my travels called “do”.
I am not entirely sure I fit into ‘my old life’. I’ve been back at uni for one week, and I feel old. All around me I see people, so young, they are just teenagers, straight out of high school. They are full of hope, false determination and gusto, so certain of their three, five, and ten-year plans… It must be nice to know, even in the most entirely false sense of the word, what you ‘want to be’ when you grow up. Three and a half years post high school and I can tell you no such thing. I can tell you of no career plans, no plans for my academic or financial future beyond “I have one year til I finish my degree”. I’m commonly asked, “What do you want to do with it?”, and my honest reply is always, “Finish it”. This goes down both well, and not so well. I don’t give a flying fuck, because it is the Truth, it is my Truth.
I returned back to my old job just yesterday. The joking sayings of “back to reality”, “feels like you never left”, and “it’s just like riding a bike again” were bandied about multiple times. There were many things that I had forgotten about, but upon remembering I knew how to do. The day was pleasant, reconnecting with several of my old work-friends, but it was not challenging… it is was more of the same. So the same. I had put in my resignation before I left, with the expectation that there wouldn’t be a place for me when I returned as down-sizing was looking to be on the horizon, but no such thing happened as several people left, and my work reached out to me asking if I’d like to come back upon my return. I agreed, thinking to myself it’d be nice to know I had a place and a source of income ready for me upon my return home, but now I’m here and this place isn’t really my home anymore and I don’t really fit in anywhere.
Many of my friends are leaving for their study exchanges and travels, and my degree doesn’t excite me and I am just completing it because it’s been three and a half years and there’s only one to go, so I may as well, but isn’t that a phrase that has wrought so much disappointment and fulfillment? I quit my job because I didn’t know if or when I was going to return, and thought to myself that it would be nice to go work somewhere else, somewhere with people my own age, in a vegan cafe or similar, a place in which I could truly be myself, where I could share my love and passion for life truthfully and not in a watered-down-professional way. I was sick of hiding my piercings and feeling like I couldn’t dye my hair or show the scars on my wrists, and I was sick of wearing black and white and the question “cheque, savings or credit?”.
Then I left. I wore my piercings every day, not having to take them out and put them back in, and it felt fantastic. It felt freeing, I felt like me. I dyed my hair, and it made me smile and like I could have fun with expressing who I am, and how I am feeling. I could wear clothes that showed my tattoos, and wore my vegan identity like a badge of honour instead of watering it down so as to not offend my boss. I was openly into women and men and laughed and cried and loved and hated and I’m back here and just feeling so… lost.
I felt more at home when i was living out of a backpack, sleeping in rooms with 5-20 strangers each night, and not knowing what I was doing or where I was going each day. Waking up, I had the freedom to choose. I could choose to talk, I could choose to be silent. I was no one else but me, stripped down to the core in all my Earthly, human, glory. I was more me when I could just be me. Yes, it is nice to see my parents and my brother again, but I do not like living here in a house with them again. I’ve left, and I know the freedom of choice and the life that comes with making your own life, and here I feel like a child.
So I have a choice. I have many choices to make. I have goals to formulate and set.
I do not want to live in my hometown forever.
At the end of my degree, I am up. I am out of here. That is my goal. I will finish in just under a years time… and what an incredible amount of things that can happen in a year, but one thing that will happen is that I will save. I will get a second job, and I will stick out university and give it my all for this one last year. I will tolerate, and make the most of, living in my parents house until I finish my degree. Then I will get my affairs in order, sell my things, pack up whatever is left, and I will leave.
I don’t have to figure out the specifics just yet, because they will come in time and I refuse to live in my head like I did before I left.
I found home in my own two feet, I found home in myself, in giving not one shit about others opinions of me, and it is hard to come back to people who place constraints on my personal freedom. It truly is. But, as I did when I was traveling, I will adapt and choose to have a positive attitude, because the only way to get where I want to go, is to start on my way… one step at a time.