The start of the end

A dramatic title with so many questions – the end of what? Am I finished with travelling? Am I going home? Well, no, not quite, but then I’m settling down for a while and this has been a long time coming.

The end of what?

For me, the “end” really started in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, five months into my trip. There I was sitting in a cafe playing on my laptop and drinking coffee. A valet car park around the corner held my hired Dodge Charger. The sun was burning in the bright blue sky and I suddenly realised something. Sitting there didn’t feel extraordinary. It felt normal.

It felt normal that I’d arrived into the states, met up with a new friend and was sleeping on their couch. It felt normal that I’d been to Frat parties, that I’d been driving her boyfriends Mustang GT, that I was in the United States…

At the time, I remember thinking that I was now taking things in my stride and not looking on in wide-eyed amazement like when I had first started out. I even popped a status onto Facebook saying “After five months of travelling I have to remind myself that this shouldn’t be considered normal, this is awesome…”. The comment went largely un-noticed, but to me it was one of the most important points of this trip. It was the start of the end but it took another few months to understand that.

It started out differently

When I left the UK I did so without any real plan. The only part of a plan was the timings between flights and although I had some desires, ultimately there was no overall game plan, no end game and no time limit. The lack of a plan was that which scared me most. The lack of a plan was that which enthralled me most.

I had my flights and took off terrified. I spent the first two weeks an emotional mess trying hard but ultimately “failing”. The only thing that made me take each step forward was pure stubbornness – I was not going to fail at that which I had coveted for a decade. After a while I started to enjoy myself and when I hit Central America after three months I was well within my stride.

Each day I would wake and look on in amazement as I played on perfect beaches, climbed volcanoes, boarded back down, surfed, stayed in jungle paradises, scuba dived, saw turtles hatch, visited ancient ruins, found brilliant company at every turn… It was so far removed my old life yet it felt so right. All the worries of the trip had vanished. All the concerns of “what to do next” were replaced with what a friend told me “what fun thing am I going to do today?”.

Working out what that moment meant

After the states I was still having fun but there was a nagging feeling I couldn’t fathom. Each day I thought about what fun thing I was going to do today and did it. I lived each day as it came and when I was ready to leave the States, I did. I went to Singapore and travelled with Dave into Phuket and Batu Pahat. When I was ready to leave there, I did…

Money started to become a bit more of a concern than it had before as I was aware that I was starting on a downward spiral – the trips to the Galapagos Islands and the States had really diminished my finances quite dramatically. So I was wondering what to do to rectify that, but ultimately, life went on. Then the money situation and travelling as whole started to grate. In particular it was  meeting loads of great people and then having to say “bye” – I’d been struggling with this right from the get-go. In Vietnam, one particular traveller really got to me and after a month of contemplation and firing messages back and forth I met up with her again in the Thai islands. I’m really happy I did as I finally understood what I really wanted and why she had been stealing my thoughts.

I wanted to settle down somewhere.

I was sick of travelling, of constantly meeting people and been surrounded by friends but ultimately feeling lonely. I was sick of seeing new places and not thinking they were that interesting or as good as “xyz”. I wanted to stop. I wanted to call somewhere home. I wanted some structure in my life. I wanted to stop worrying about money. I wanted to feel like I was back in Beverly Hills all those months earlier. I wanted to find somewhere that whilst exciting and enthralling, felt normal. So, you know what, I went out and found it.

I picked up flights to Singapore to finish off my Australia visa application (I needed a medical) and once that went through bought tickets to Melbourne. I updated my CV and started applying for jobs. I arrived in Melbourne and continued the applications and lived in a hostel. I sat in little coffee shops. I sat in parks. I read books. I played on my laptop. I watched movies and TV Shows. I relaxed. I did some work for a friend back home. I avoided writing blog posts as I was wanting to live, not to travel. All the while I was applying for jobs looking for something that felt right and that I could commit to.

You know what, I found it.

I now know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow and for the next few years, but after that? I don’t know but I’m OK with that. Finding comfort in the unknown is the greatest gift travelling could have given me.