I am living in Mexico. I have traveled the world for almost 3 years. I have shed my former life in the same way a snake sheds its skin, scraped it against any unmovable thing, unapologetically, until it fell away. I have done what my soul begged me to do. I have asked myself a thousand times over: Is it true? Does it feel right deep down in the center of me? I have asked these questions like a bat chirps to navigate his way through blindness and the answers, yes, yes, have bounced off of the walls and lit my way.
Before Brian and I left to travel I wrote this post about why I was doing it. I wrote, “I can almost envision a life in which I would be content. First of all, it is a life in which I am a writer. Second of all, it is a life in which I am around nature, living in the mountains where I can easily hike or run in the forest. Third of all, it is a life in which I have close connections to people. When it gets down to it that is all I really want. But I feel like I cannot find those things until we do this traveling. I can only explain that this traveling feels like an integral part of the journey on my path to finding more.”
Back when I wrote that I didn’t know (couldn’t have known!) that I was right. But I was right. I was so fucking, completely right. Travel was an integral part of the journey on my path to finding more. And I have found so much more. I wish I could type the word more and inside it you could see, crawling around like microscopic organisms, the billions of moments, experiences, thoughts and connections that have changed my life. But trying to explain what these years have been to me is like asking a Cheetah what it’s like to be a snail. I walked into the room as one person and I emerged another. I can never go back to the way I was before.
There’s a thing I’ve been needing to say for some time now. It’s a truth that’s been growing for a while, the pinging of my bat sonar getting louder and louder. Is it true? Yes, yes. I’m done traveling. At least for now, at least full-time. I just don’t really want to do it anymore.
I needed these years and I took them. I’m happy. But what does one do with contentment?
The truth is, I have been begging Brian to go home. I would get on a plane tomorrow and go. I want a house with hardwood floors and a fireplace. I want to go to a grocery store with fluorescent lighting and familiar food. I want to have friends again, real live ones that I can go to dinner with. I want relationships that don’t rely solely on Skype. I want it all in the same desperate way that I used to want a plane ticket to anywhere and a 50-liter backpack. Poor Brian. He looks at me with his almond eyes and says, “We’ll go home. Just not quite yet.”
No, not quite yet. But soon.
I don’t know if I can call myself a real writer yet. I know I can’t call myself a successful one. Basically I make as much money writing as I used to make at my after school job at Arby’s. I still don’t have a book deal but it’s true I’ve not yet tried. Still, despite all of the things I have not done professionally, despite the fact that I have yet to query one single agent or see my byline in the papers and magazines, I do feel so much closer. I really do. I feel on the very edge of something. I feel similar to how I felt before I set out on this journey: scared, uncertain, but confident that it will all work out somehow. It helps to remember that God does not work on my timeline.
The other day I was taking a walk on the beach and something inside of me said, clear as a chime on a windy spring day, “Kim, even birds have nests.”
Even birds have nests.
And I thought about how the last few years have taught me to fly. I jumped from the tree and flapped my wings and by some unmistakable, beautiful miracle I flew. Soaring will always be a part of who I am. But if I want to gather twigs and build a steady place to land that is okay too.