I’m not talking about leaving for a vacation. Or leaving for college. Not leaving for a work trip, or even an extended deployment. Not maternity leave either. All of those things have one thing in common: they eventually come to an end. There is a start and a finish.
The kind of leaving I’m talking about is when you drop everything. When you bring your “normal life” to a screaming halt, and leave with no timeline, no agenda, and no obligations. A start and a question mark. That’s a whole different kind of leaving.
I’m about to embark on my next solo backpacking trip – this time to South America. More on my first trip here. This time, I really have nothing holding me back. My finances are in order (more on that later). I have given leave notice to my employers. My ticket is booked. And most importantly, I’ve told everyone I know that I’m leaving so there’s no backing out now.
But here’s the thing. While that seems outrageous, it really just gives me the freedom to fully follow the signs placed in front of me. Those signs might lead me right back home to a new job in a new place. Those signs might lead me to a new country, a new career, and maybe a new home. I’m not sure if I’ll be back in a month or a year, or maybe not at all. And I’m really open to whatever way it goes (but tbh I really hope it’s not back here because #brr). I don’t have a timeline or any expectations of where this journey will take me, but I know I’m looking forward to experiencing it slowly and really savoring whatever each day offers to me, however hippy dippy yoga that may sound.
10 9 days left in the country, I’m feeling:
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately (& let’s not even get started on my dreams the past few weeks). I really think there’s something different about the second time you leave.
The second time you leave e v e r y t h i n g.
For starters, you know a helluva lot more. Questions like “are hostels safe?” and “will I have a working phone?” and “how will I meet people?” are not at the forefront of your mind. You have a better idea of what to pack. You know your travel preferences and you’ve (hopefully) got a rough budget in mind. You know enough to know that you’ll figure it all out.
But you also know about some of the hardships that you’ll face. Homesickness, and loneliness. Travel fatigue. Moments that make your stomach drop. Painful goodbyes. But you know that all of those things are worthwhile, and in fact make it that much better.
The second time you leave, there’s a distinct BEFORE and AFTER. Before you traveled, and after you got back. You’re acutely aware of what you’ve accomplished in the after, or maybe what you haven’t. But regardless, you know exactly what it took to get you where you are now, on the cusp of another trip. You know how many hours you worked to save that money. You know how much you sacrificed for to get back to this beautiful freedom. You know who was there to help you through the after, which makes it even harder to say goodbye.
But it’s the push and pull of all of these things that makes the second time you leave even better.
At least I think so, but we’ll find out together. Until Cartagena…