On the Road, Again

It’s 5am and the people are starting to come out. These people who disappear all night, from when I land at midnight until now, start to appear again, come out from their corners, again. Some of them are just arriving at the airport, and I realize that it is already time for some of the flights to start taking off again. 5am. A normal time to get to the airport. For some.

And as for me? I am just happy to be in an airport again. I am just happy to be traveling again. I am excited to be somewhere new, again. Layovers aren’t really so bad once you get used to them. Wander the airport some; find a nice corner to sit in. In Singapore, where I am now, there is even a koi pond and I can walk over and watch the fish swimming around while the rest of the world flies by. Literally.

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Early morning on the bridge to San Francisco

I spent a while back home rehabbing my ankle after my accident in Vietnam. Which was a good thing to do. I wasn’t really able to walk on my ankle after I sprained it, so coming home made sense, so that I didn’t have to travel on it. But now it has been over a month and, while I loved getting to take hot showers whenever I wanted and getting to eat any type of food that I wanted  (though I did mostly stay away from Asian food. I wasn’t ready for American-Asian food yet), I have gotten pretty antsy being home.

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My dog took good care of my while I was bed ridden

It is hard to get used to sitting still when you have been moving for so long.

It was really hard getting used to fitting in again at home. Reverse culture shock. It was one thing getting used to the giant grocery stores and paved roads and everyone speaking English.

It was another thing going back to my university for homecoming and trying to fit into situations where a year ago I would have felt so comfortable. Seeing people who I recognized. Seeing people who I hadn’t seen in a year. Seeing people who weren’t, also, traveling.

I didn’t know how to act in a room full of people. I felt like a stranger. Well, not with my closest friends, but it was odd trying to trade stories from the last year with acquaintances. How to sum up my past year when people asked? With a list of places? How to put it into one word? And so I kept feeling like I was falling short of what people wanted to hear. Which just made it feel that much more awkward.

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A perk of going back to Baltimore: seeing my old friends and roommates!

So maybe that is one reason why I am so excited to go back. I don’t feel like I have finished my time traveling. I don’t feel like I can sum it up yet. I can tell stories, stories about the times I took a bus across the border of one country into another. Stories of when I climbed up into the mountains in Nepal. Stories of the first time the smog cleared in Kathmandu and I could really see the Himalayas and how magical they looked standing above the ridge of the valley.

And stories of all the amazing people whom I met along the way. People and friends who I would never meet in any other place at any other time. And how they are the people who I have become so comfortable around. And how maybe it just takes time to get used to new things, and how maybe it takes time to also learn to get used to old things, too.

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At the homecoming game: JHU vs UMD

This time around I am heading back to Nepal so that I can go trekking, and then head over to Tibet with a friend of mine! Trips that I have been waiting for all year, but that I had to put off until my ankle was healed completely. I am so excited to get to see new places; I am so excited to be traveling again. I am so excited to be back, on the road, again.

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2 thoughts on “On the Road, Again”

  1. Darling Jenna,
    I do know how you felt trying to explain to people what happened to you on your travels. I went through something of the same sort years ago, even though I was with Marge. I think she felt the same thing when we got back to the States.

    From my sage (that means old–81 tomorrow) position I can offer some difficult advice: for when you get back permanently: write it all down, as you have been doing in these wonderful blogs, but this time think of it as a book; try to answer any questions people might come up with, for example, who is the girl with the Russian name and how did you meet her and the same for the boy with whom you traveled; this is all to go with the material in the blogs but with more detail both about what you saw and what you felt, and why things struck you as they did. Perhaps if allowable, more detail about your volunteer work at the women’s shelter would be (at least to me) important and moving. If you were familiar with any of the politics in the places you got to, or how they now are due to the roles of the U.S., that should go in there too.

    Oh hell! Am I being too presumptuous? I noticed that the longer you were away, your writing improved both in style and substance, and I know it would be a labor of love as well as difficult.

    Maybe you don’t want to hear this–but I’m only telling you how to live for the next few years, perhaps for the rest of your life.
    Much love,
    Peter
    P.S. Yesterday I was talking with an Indian woman at Verizon who was helping me work out some computer problems and in some dead time I told her about you and what you were doing. She said that she thought you were wonderful, and she wished she could do the same thing, and do it with you. She was envious, impressed, and thankful and said we need more people like her to come here.

  2. Jenna – can completely relate to the difficulties of reverse culture shock! Weird to try to fit back in with old friends when you feel so different. Glad you are on the road again!

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