It’s my last morning in Buenos Aires and my last morning on this particular adventure. In less than an hour I will be on my way to the airport for the final leg home.
As I’m writing this I can’t help but feel teary. I’m not entirely sure why. Probably in part from lack of sleep (I did make it back to my hotel before sunrise this morning, but only just), but also because while I feel ready to stop travelling, I know I’m not quite ready to go home.
It’s not that I haven’t missed the people I left behind, it’s just that now I know I don’t want to go back to the way things were before.
Over the last few days the anxiety has been back, the churning horrors in my stomach and a mind that panics senselessly, and I realise in part I came away not to find myself, but to be myself again. The person who isn’t depressed and anxious and going crazy feeling trapped inside her own life.
Six weeks away and I am no closer to knowing how to change it.
On the other hand, I know it’s time. This last week I’ve been struggling to find the energy to keep going, to navigate yet another new city, to struggle to understand and be understood, to take in more sights, more explanations. I stopped wanting to find a laundry, and started finding creative ways to make my remaining clean clothes last the distance. I no longer pillage each new city for all it’s worth, instead being content to visit a handful of the same places, the same eateries, knowing I could be experiencing more.
I wish I was the kind of person who could quit their job, pack up and leave with no fixed agenda and no return ticket. It’s the kind of freedom I crave, and the kind of freedom I can’t afford.
The thing is, I know myself, and I know that person isn’t me. I crave spontaneity and freedom, but within a secure and structured framework. After this trip, I know that more than ever. It’s much easier to let go when you know exactly how far you have to fall.
On the other hand, I need to know that I have future adventures to look forward to. Already I’ve had some awesome new friends contact me, ‘Would you want to do a safari with me in Africa’? How about Mexico? Cambodia? This should feel liberating, knowing South America won’t be my last trip, but the first of many. Instead I feel anxious, trapped. How am I going to fund all this travel? How will I get time off work? I still have a mortgage to maintain and cats to feed, and…What if my thirst for new adventures keeps me tied to the security and suffocating sameness I tried to escape?
What I can say is that I have come away with an incredible array of experiences, a thirst for more adventures, a better knowledge of my abilities and more importantly, my limits. I know the situations where I thrive and those where I break down. I’m not an open-ended traveller. I’m not a raging extrovert. I like to party, but not every night. I like to meet new people and experience new things, but not every day. I’m not someone who revels in organisation and logistics, and as much as I need time alone, I also need time with people. And eventually I just get tired. Bone tired. I don’t want to keep moving. I can’t take any more in. I need a vacation from my vacation, to stop and to breathe, and then I can start again.
So I head home to breathe. Not with the epiphany and life-altering plan that I’d hoped, but with a fresh perspective and a determination to keep going, to get well and get moving, because there’s so much more of the world to see.