I found myself at a crossroads two weeks ago where I felt that my mind and my heart were in two separate places. I would carry on the same routine for months, following the motions of getting to work, performing a mundane task, and then driving home with heavy eyelids as if I were on autopilot. I needed to take a step back and assess the world I had created around me.
There are blog articles that have stated the importance of a woman having the opportunity to travel alone at least once in her life. Initially, the prospect of being a solo traveler in a different country sounded terrifying. I received many perplexed looks from older women, who, after hearing about my trip, wanted to make sure that I would stay safe.
I am well aware of the truth that I have been an introvert my whole life. That must be why a vacation that allowed me to have ample time to read some books, a chance to write, knit a few scarves, walk around in nature, reflect on life and priorities, go to the movies, visit museums and a zoo, enjoy the sound of the rain, appreciate architecture, shop for groceries, and try new foods was exactly what I needed all along. I went on this trip without knowing what to expect. After only learning a bit of the local language and mustering up what I knew from the Internet on how their public transportation system worked, I ended up in a small town where the pace of life was slowed down to a speed of comfort. The people were very nice and trustworthy and I received plenty of smiles when they greeted me. The general mood was one where people seemed happy and taught me a lesson or two about customer service.
One of the most desirable parts of being a solo traveler was the lack of having to compromise. Each day was my own, from the moment I would get up to eat breakfast to the end of the day when I would get ready for bed. There is a beauty in not following a set schedule or having to adjust to to another person's idea of sight-seeing.
It is funny because I have trouble sleeping where I live. I used to think that I had some type of insomnia, but now my sleep pattern is regulated by the odd hours I am required to report for work. When I was on vacation, my sleep pattern adjusted almost instantly. I was going to bed before midnight and waking up at sunrise.
On the last night of my trip, I was laying in my hotel bed staring up at the pitch black ceiling when a familiar song melody popped into my mind followed by the lyrics, “There is another world…there must be.” I wracked my brain trying to remember where I had heard that song before when I realized that it was the song “Asleep” by the Smiths. I felt a longing and a loneliness that I have not thought about in a while and that was when I knew it was time for me to pack my bags and head home.
I walked through the city center that night when it was quietly raining. I took an intercity train to the airport and before long, I boarded a plane that was headed to Iceland. I felt like the plane was chasing after the sunset to prolong the sunshine for just a while longer.
As I rode home on the train that night to my small hometown in the suburbs of Southern California, I knew that I was returning home, but I felt like something had changed. My world had opened up, I was able to go farther than I thought possible and my world was no longer quite so small within the confides of the city limits.
The days that followed were a reminder of the life and people I had left behind when I decided I wanted to take a vacation on the other side of the world. I had a table full of notes left for me when I returned to my office job on Friday saying, “You have been dearly missed and I am so happy you are back.” I noticed a couple of coworker's eyes light up when they saw me and they said they were happy that I came back. When I went to pick up my pupil at school, she had the biggest smile on her face and ran up the hill to give me a hug. She said, “It feels like you have been away forever even though it has only been a few days.” Feeling essential is one of the nicest feelings in the world.
Songs that inspired this newspost:
Múm - “The Land Between Solar Systems”
Florence + The Machine - “Wish that You Were Here” (from "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children)
kawaiidaigakusei at 12:00AM, Nov. 21, 2016
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