…from Boston to Ushuaia, at the very bottom of South America.
It’s really hard to summarize what that trip has meant to me. It showed me a whole new way of living life; a way of being grateful every day that you wake up, knowing you’ve got a whole day of riding before you, seeing new places, meeting new people and being on the road. There’s a joy in being on the road every day; a rightness in seeing this world we live in, living out of a couple of panniers and spending eight hours a day on a motorcycle.
It’s the best job I ever had.
I still remember with vivid clarity those moments of “Wow. I am so lucky to be here. Seeing this. Doing this. With this person I love.”
They happened frequently.
We’ve been home for eight months.
Much of it has been a slow, soul-killing dredge.
Immediately upon returning home, I felt completely out of place. This wasn’t my “home” anymore. Home was wherever my motorcycle and panniers were. Our apartment seemed extravagantly enormous, and everywhere I looked it was full of “stuff.” So much stuff. Stuff we’d quite happily lived without for four months. Our whole lifestyle seemed excessive, compared to the poor people we’d met throughout Latin America. The city was confining and abrasive; I hated hearing city noises every morning when I woke up, and every night as I was falling asleep. I’d go outside and feel like I was in a strange place.
It was also difficult to talk to people about the trip. Words couldn’t express how it felt to be living on the road like that. “Did you have fun?” “It was awesome.” But there was no way to convey what a life-changing experience it was. The vocabulary doesn’t exist to adequately express how we felt. We started creating sound bytes we could share with people; our favorite country (Colombia), best food, worst food, etc. Because there’s just too much to share, and there’s no real way to converse about a trip like ours.
I felt disconnected with our friends and family. I still love them, and I’d missed them while we were on the road, but there wasn’t really any way to share our experiences with them, either. They’d been back here, going about their daily lives, and we hadn’t been a part of them. What we’d been experiencing was so far outside of their day-to-day existence that we didn’t really know how to interact with them about it.
And of course, returning to jobs we didn’t really care about made it that much harder to do anything. We’d gotten a glimpse of how our lives really could be. Coming back to programming things that don’t make anyone’s life better (or even make them smile) was hard for Kay. Coming back to write about mundane things designed to boost sales, increase conversions or make more money for some company was hard for me. We both lost our motivation – except the motivation to do what it takes to get back on the road. Because it was abundantly clear, in those first painful days at home, that that’s exactly what we needed.
Over time, we began to adjust to life “back home.” We started resuming our old buying habits (although now, our purchases are much more oriented to motorcycle travel and things that will make it easier/faster to get back on the road). We’ve cleared out a whole bunch of the pointless “stuff” that waited in our apartment, but we’re gradually accruing new stuff. We’ve become re-acquainted with friends and family, and are resuming our old habits of visiting/communication with them.
On the flip side, both of us have fallen out of touch with what were significant parts of our personality before we left. (i.e. Kay was a zombie fan before we left, but after such a life-affirming and celebratory trip like that, he can’t get into zombies anymore. Me, I’m not really into movies anymore, and only use TV shows for escapism/procrastination.) There are lasting changes that occurred as a result of the trip that I don’t think will ever really go away.
This barely scratches the surface of the transformation we’ve experienced. Re-integration was literally that; we didn’t just come home and pick up the threads of our old lives again. We’ve made new places for ourself, but I think we both share the feeling that they’re just temporary.
There’s still a whole wide world out there, and even after our trip, we’ve barely scratched the surface of it. There are tons of countries to be explored; people to meet; languages to fumble through; landscapes to experience and ups and downs to have. There are (hopefully) a million more sunsets to greet; thousands of days of waking up and feeling grateful to be on the road, or seeing something beautiful and just *feeling* the glory of life and this world we live in.
The trip has made us deeper, richer people, but it’s also made us discontent with sitting still; discontent with our old lives. It’s both a blessing and a curse. But I have no doubt that it will shape the rest of our lives, and we’re going to do everything in our power to get back out there again, share our adventures with you, and hopefully give you a glimpse of the wonder and the life we experience on the road.