Apartment looking like a bomb exploded in every room? Check.
Cardboard boxes, plastic containers and bubble wrap everywhere? Check.
Surviving on a steady diet of whatever happens to be left in the fridge? Check.
I guess that can mean only one thing.
I’m going travelling again.
Even though I’ve had the odd tingle of excitement in the last few weeks it wasn’t until last Friday that it really smacked me in the face that I was leaving. It was my final day at work, and the job that I couldn’t wait to finish six months ago suddenly felt like a warm security blanket that I didn’t want to throw off.
My wonderful team had made me individual little video clips to say goodbye, and as I sat there watching them one after the other I started to feel … something. Not sad, exactly. Not depressed. Melancholy, perhaps, or maybe just resigned.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly excited to be embarking on my next adventure. It’s going to be amazing. It’s just that I really, really hate leaving.
I hate knowing that the great relationships I’ve formed with new friends this year will slowly start to wither no matter how hard we all try to maintain them.
I hate knowing that while I’m having a wonderful time wandering round the world I’ll be missing out on the little milestones like birthdays and Christmas that bring – and keep – you closer to your family.
I hate closing the door that always feels like it has just started to open as I’m about to leave a place.
Will these feelings stop me heading to the airport a week from now? Hell no. The positives of long term travel far away the negatives – they always have and for me they always will.
Is it ok to feel a sense of regret anyway though? I think it is.
Travel bloggers like me promote a dream. I mean hey, it’s right there in the banner at the top of this page. Great beaches, food, scenery, people, experiences … whatever floats your boat, and the freedom to explore it all to your heart’s content. It’s not that it’s not true, because it very much is. All of it. It’s just that we tend to gloss over the other stuff.
There are downsides to living like this. I’m never going to have it all, and nothing worth having comes for free.
There will always be something that I can’t do, somewhere I can’t be, someone I can’t see when it matters.
For a person like me who hates to miss out on anything, learning this has been a bitter pill to swallow.
I felt exactly the same when I last did this 18 months ago, and I’m getting a little better at dealing with it every time. But only a little. It still isn’t easy. I don’t think it ever will be.
But then again, maybe it doesn’t need to be. The emotional connections we make with people and places are a big part of what it means to be human. If I stop doing that, if I build a wall around myself and don’t let the happiness in because I don’t want to feel the pain at the end, what’s the point?
Much like love I’d rather open myself up completely and risk getting hurt than close myself off and never find out at all.
It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
I leave on Tuesday. See you on the road.
[Moving truck image via Paul Keller]