When the trips take you
I returned to the US on May 26th and I’ve been nonstop ever since I landed. A lot has changed. I have recently relocated to Boston, but still find myself in NYC two days a week when I am not working. But it’s fine. Coming off of the longest stint I ‘ve ever done in El Salvador, after my first visit just 9 years ago. I remember getting off the airplane and running towards an Auntie Anne’s. I was so happy to be back in the land of not feeling skeptical of what I was eating. I’m sure you can assume that I got sick more than once on that trip.
But with each return, the culture shock subsided more and more and I started to really enjoy going. Family time combined with warm weather, and cheap drinks…can you ask for more? I was going multiple times a year, every break I had for school I was on a plane. After I graduated and entered the work force naturally the trips did not stay as frequent and I felt further and further from a place that I was so familiar with.
After leaving my job and enjoying a staycation in New York City, some time in Rhode Island with my father I decided to visit my mom for one month. One month turned into two, because, well hell, I didn’t have a job to come back to and I wanted to enjoy the time that I would likely never have the opportunity to get again. My father joked that my spontaneous and unpredictable personality assured him that this could very well happen again, “maybe next year?” he joked.
But this past trip was not the same. The country that I visited so many times before crawled under my skin a little bit deeper. I walked with more caution and took less pictures because I didn’t want to really be seen. After extending my trip I remember thinking, “Am I getting too comfortable?” I felt vulnerable at times, and there were some days where I would wake up and feel below water. I took the same steps to the bathroom, and the same to the kitchen to grab a water. Some days I would pray, pray for some type of motivation to do something different. Those were good days, and I had lots of good days and moments. But this time around those “non” moments seemed to build up and I felt agitated. I was super active before, always on the go, and when it stopped it affected everything. I couldn’t run outside, walk to get a cup of coffee, do any of my scheduled workouts, or just walk out of leisure. Everything was scheduled, you were always in someone’s house, a restaurant or a mall. I was forced to depend on my mom and family for everything. I was not used to that.
I would have conversations with friends and people I met about New York and how much I loved it. They would tell me about their trips and how much they enjoyed going there. It made me miss home. But then, I would be watching tv with my mom after dinner, and we would talk and laugh, and sometimes I would make her laugh so hard she would cry. That made the “feel below water” moments go away. Because I remembered the real reason I was there.
John Steinbeck quoted “you don’t take trips, trips take you”
But where… most of us look at traveling as a vacation, to let loose, do whatever you please. But when that option is taken away from you, what do you gain? After two months, of moments with my family that I will cherish forever, I can honestly say that this trip took my perspective and altered it a bit. I look at the freedom, liberties that I have here to make anything possible and can’t take them for granted. Every trip prior to this I have come back thinking how lucky I am to live where I do and to be able to do the things that I would like to do.
But now, it’s not just knowing, it’s having the mentality that I can’t not do it. I don’t think its possible for me to take the opportunities that lie ahead for granted. It’s actually not even an option anymore.