A fellow travel blogger recently posted a link on Facebook to this page: The Travel Experience In 35 Gifs: From Quitting At Home To Shitting Abroad (take a look!). Auston and I about shit our pants laughing at them. For us, they were about 90% accurate and 200% hilarious. Nothing explains trying to get your travel visas sorted out better than Bruce Willis crawling through an air duct with a lighter as his guide in “Die Hard”. In fact, that was our exact experience when applying for our Indian visas. Then we died laughing at the GIF expressing what it’s like to introduce yourself to the people you meet abroad over and over and over and OVER again. Honestly, sometimes I’ll just enter a hostel with my head pointed to the floor in hopes that nobody notices me as to avoid that conversation entirely. Especially when I know I’ll just be staying a night or two.
That page really got Auston and I reflecting and laughing about all the things we’ve done and places we’ve been the past year and a half. Running a library in Guatemala with no guidance, getting lost in Ethiopia on our way to Debre Zeyit, partaking in the world’s largest food fight at La Tomatina, and visiting one of the wonder’s of the world with our family at Machu Picchu. To think it all started when we sold our stuff and left Chicago over a year ago to take a road trip through the States stopping in Nashville, Mobile, New Orleans, El Paso and driving up through Tucson to finally arrive in Phoenix where we put our belongings in storage then left for what we thought would be just a year-long adventure.
Now, almost 18 months later we more than passed our 12 month deadline. And just last week we signed a 9 month lease for an apartment in Madrid as I will be teaching English here until June 2014. It was a common pattern I saw many travelers fall into – giving themselves an end date that when it came time, they’d never follow through with.
“How long did you intend to travel for?” I recall asking a British expat I had met in Japan last year.
“6 months,” he told me.
“And how long ago was that?” I followed up.
“Almost 4 years ago,” he responded.
The truth is that it’s so hard to fathom returning home once your prescribed deadline arrives. Like the GIF says, “When your friends ask you when you're planning to come back home…”
Response: “It’s right up there on my priority list with bleaching my asshole.”
Graphic, but true. Auston and I are in love with our expat lives right now. We are incredibly thankful for the opportunity we seized and for the support of all our friends and family. I know my mom’s dream would be for me to move in next door. Well, maybe not right next door, but in the general vicinity. But she also regularly expresses her support and confirms for me that we are doing the ‘right’ thing for lack of a better expression. This is also funny because Auston and I often joke about not knowing what we’re doing with our lives. Yet we always find comfort in admitting the simple truth: we have absolutely no clue. But we’re not ready to give up this life quite yet. Sometimes I think that if we give it up we can never return. Which is so not true. But if we did give it up and move back to the States, I know it will be that much harder to leave again. I think that’s why we keep our distance for the moment. It was so much easier to commit to a 9 month lease in Madrid than to commit to buying a plane ticket ‘home’.
So though that day will come eventually, for now I can confidently say that I’d rather introduce myself to strangers at a hostel for “the billionth fucking time” than “bleach my asshole”.