By the end of my road trip with Phil I was exhausted. Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I was travel sick, plain and simple. In principle, I really wanted to explore Wales, more of Scotland and Ireland, but I would’ve just been going through the motions. I started toying with the idea of going home.
I decided to head back to London anyway and see my cousin Shanti since I wasn’t able to before I left London the first time. Phil dropped me off at the Glossop train station and after a big hug goodbye, I waited for the train to Manchester with a car’s worth of rambunctious school kids.
On the train to London I considered my options. Backpacking with the wrong attitude is a recipe for disaster. It sounds like a cliche, but you have to want it. Otherwise you walk like a zombie through the streets of ________, never really knowing what you’re seeing or even appreciating it. Backpacking is a drug. People get addicted to it. But knowing when to take a break is the key to enjoying it in the long term (I started down this “backpacking as an addiction” analogy and now it just sounds disturbing).
I contemplated going to Ireland and trying to find a job, but the prospect of conducting the search I performed in NZ, except this time in a big city, it seemed daunting. Especially when I had engineering jobs on the horizon; two years of being away from the software game made me start worrying about my future.
I was nearly at London by the time I was nearly at a decision. And it was one of the most difficult ones I’d had to make so far. I called Satya’s cell from the local train station and he gave me walking directions. I reached and finally got to see Shanti, Krithika and the new house. I regaled them with stories from the road and what I had been up to for the last few months. That night I searched online and found a ticket back to Boston for an incredible price. I had no choice.
The next morning Shanti drove me to the train station, and I made the 45 minute journey to Heathrow. It seemed surreal, almost like coming home for Laura’s funeral. Even as they were serving the in-flight meal I didn’t believe it. I landed in Boston and got picked up by my mother at the airport.
Even though I knew that a year down the road I’d regret it, it felt good to be home. Just digging through my old clothes and boxes was an adventure. After wearing the same set of clothes for nearly 2 years, even an old pair of socks was exciting.
And although my stories wouldn’t be motivated by random travels anymore, I knew it wouldn’t be the end of my adventures. My future was just as open as it was sitting on that park bench in Interlaken, when with the turn of a heel I redirected the course of my journey. Now I can’t say that it’s going to be as interesting as a road trip across Tasmania, gardening in Western Australia, bartending in New Zealand, motorcycling around Southeast Queensland or hiking in Eastern Europe, but it’ll still sure beat whatever you’re doing.