A few years ago, I was backpacking through Belize and I remember meeting an Australian girl who'd taken a year off work to travel the world. She actually seemed super bummed out about it, saying that her dad had warned her that even though she thought it would be the trip of a lifetime, around 3 months into the trip she would begin to crave routine and stability again. She said that she hadn't believed him at the time, and I personally couldn't believe that spending a year abroad would be anything less than amazing, coming from a place where it had felt like a miracle to get two weeks off work to take my trip through Central America. She admitted that ultimately her dad had been right, and after Belize she was heading to Mexico to find a job working in a kitchen or a farm for a little bit just so that she'd find that feeling of being grounded for a while.
Several people have commented that my road trip idea is a funny concept, because usually people venture to more exotic places when they travel for an extended period of time. I've responded that my trip has been less about getting as far from home as possible and more about taking the time to slow down, spending time with people who have meant a lot to me at different periods of my life, and meeting people who think a little differently from me.
There's a Paulo Coelho quote from the book The Alchemist that stuck out in my mind around the beginning of my trip, 'And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.' As soon as Madison and I came up with the concept of a person Lyfting their way around the country, it seemed like all the pieces fell into place telling me I should do it. The fact that I was as excited as I was as we started planning out the logistics of taking a trip was indicative, and the first thing that occurred to me was that I hadn't found that feeling of inspired enthusiasm at my actual job. Second, I got an email from a friend connecting me to a friend of hers who had taken his own year off and just happened to be in Portland that week, so I was able to grill him about his trip over drinks. A couple weeks after that, I got a call from my godmother saying that my godfather had passed away suddenly and it seemed so, so obvious that life is too short to be taken so seriously. I spent about 6 months planning my trip, and when I finally gave my two weeks notice to my director, she hugged me and said she couldn't wait to follow my adventures on Snapchat.
At the same time, Madison found that her gut was telling her to stay with her job, since she'd finally found something she loved and felt inspired by, and that's also something that shouldn't be overlooked. Everyone has their own path and we're meant to figure out what ours is individually, which is why it's so important not to get hung up on what other people think. I probably wouldn't have let myself start planning out the trip if I would've thought I'd be doing it by myself, so it was necessary to begin by planning with a friend and later realizing it was something I needed to do alone. Living in a trailer and driving strangers around in your car might not be the path for you, but it was exactly right for me.
I'm about 6 months into my trip now and beginning to plan my re-entry into the real world. This trip ended up being the perfect balance of what I needed, alternating between stretching into the new and uncomfortable and settling in with old friends who generously welcomed me into their lives, with time on the road in between to clear my head and reflect. Before I left Portland, I'd thought I was taking this trip entirely for fun, and somewhere between San Francisco and Ventura I realized how much I needed the time and space to clear my head and figure out where I want to take my life. I spent a month in Phoenix talking through what I was doing and why I was doing it with my fairy godmother, and by the time I got to Las Vegas, I told my sister I felt like I'd gotten everything I needed out of the trip, and anything going forward would be purely for fun. By the time I got to Nashville, I started thinking about what the Australian girl in Belize had said, and the idea of having some routine again sounded nice.
Now I'm back in California and unsure of exactly where I'm heading next, but confident that I'm in tune with myself enough to know that I'll be able to recognize the right opportunity for me when it knocks. More to come.