I wish I had a clear answer to this question. I wish I could tell you that I was whisked away by a hunky European man and haven’t had time to write between our steamy make-out sessions. I wish I could say that I had a better story.
In truth, I have been back home for a little while now after planning a surprise arrival for my family. I couldn’t post about my plans to return home because I had already sent my parents a faux flight confirmation. I told them I wouldn’t make it home for Christmas due to the pricey flights. In reality, I had actually bought a ticket to make it home by 10pm Christmas eve, hoping I could keep the secret until I arrived (thanks to my almost-brother-in-law, Will, for being the MVP of the surprise).
I bought this plane ticket while sitting on a bunk bed in Florence, Italy, only two months into my trip. I was high on travel-success, still pleasantly surprised by the amount of money I had been able to save. I decided to buy the cheapest flight home, figuring it couldn’t be that hard to make it back to Paris to fly from CDG Airport. Once the Paris attacks happened, my exciting flight home became a black cloud looming over my head.
You’ll be fine!! Everyone told me. Of course, I knew they were right but my subconscious anxiety would rear it’s head yelling at me me, blonde? Female? American? Flying from Paris to Turkey to Boston, ALONE??? How stupid can you be? I hated that I felt this way, trying to remind myself that people are inherently good, and that I would soon be in the arms of my family, stuffing my face full of all the chocolate and candy that I wouldn’t claim at customs. This was a challenging time for me, pushing myself to still make it to all the places I wanted to see, not letting fear stop me from living my life to the fullest. It was funny to me how my final trip, the trip home, was the scariest of all. I had written about the fear that stopped others from traveling, and I was determined to be true to my words, not letting anything or anyone get in my way.
After 32 hours of traveling (Germany to Paris, Paris to the Airport, Airport to Istanbul, Istanbul to Boston, Boston to home) in a mild panic, meeting wonderful people who I was lucky to share my 11 hour flight with, and being reminded that travel is honestly the best thing anyone can ever do for themselves, my best friend Madison picked me up from the airport shuttle and drove me home. I walked right into the Christmas Eve party my family was enjoying and hugged my mom. “Merry Christmas!” I said. I turned my head, waiting for my older sister Brooke’s reaction and gave her a big hug as tears rolled down her face. Operation Surprise- check!
The first few weeks of being home were a blur of reconnecting with family and friends, answering questions like, “What was your favorite place??” and “How was the food???” I was nostalgic walking through my hometown, appreciating all the things I had taken for granted. People around me were speaking a language I understood, there was drip coffee and free laundry, and mornings were once again filled with kisses from my dogs. Everything I had once known seemed new again, and I love it.
I started work again at the coffee shop I have worked at since I was 17, helped my parents move houses (coming home to a different house than the one I had left was strange, but that’s a topic for another day), started yoga teacher training, and settled back into everyday life. I hadn’t realized that after the holidays I would be forced to confront the fact that I was no longer traveling, that my backpack wasn’t my lifeline, that my purse didn’t need to always be zipped and tucked under my arm, and mostly, that I wasn’t a one (wo)man band anymore. I had my family, my friends, my job, and no idea what to do with it all.
“So where do I go from here?” I asked myself. Well, I have a marketing/business degree (and student loans ugh), and I want to use it. I want to get out of my parents house, even though I love them very much-hi guys-, and I want to start my next chapter. This 23 year old is ready for her next adventure, and adulthood sounds like a pretty solid one to set out on. I have a career to find, places to see, SO much food to cook, and lots to do in between.
“OH NO SHELBY! WILL YOU KEEP BLOGGING???” I know you’re all worried that my blogging career may come to an end, but I can assure you that although I may be stateside for the time being, the fun doesn’t stop here. I hope to bring you all along with me through my journey of finding my way, whatever way that may be.
So, I guess my answer to the original question is this: I hand’t written because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know how to form the words to describe what an amazing adventure I had been on, and how to acknowledge the fact that it was over. It wasn’t until I had coffee with my friend Chrissy a few days ago that I realized that the adventure didn’t end, it is just evolving. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully verbalize what the past five months have meant to me, but I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.
Thank you, Chrissy, for the inspiration. You Rock.
Not my picture, but all too real: