Looking Back: Who We Were Then and Now (Or: Same Same, Different)
I did not know who I was when I first left to travel. I was twenty-four.
I also do not know now. I am thirty-one.
Now, I am also leaving to travel. Back to Portland before I wind my way across the country by car and end up, surprisingly, where I stand now—Georgia.
I look back on the sixteen months begun in 2013, drifting through fifty-two cities in-and-around Europe with my then-boyfriend, meeting people, learning skills like farming or construction . . . and I can’t say I know what it was for.
It seems a sort of glowing light, a hallowed path stringing me along to finally leave me on the other side, without answers.
Looking back, I see the things travel showed me I never was. I wasn’t a colleague. I wasn’t socialite. Nor a chef, an extrovert, an actress. I wasn’t someone to settle (not for long, anyway).
What this nomadic life gave me was not solid ground on which to stand, not some world mirror showing somehow myself reflected.
What it gave me was a chance to pay dues. It was a time to grow close to a man I wouldn’t keep. A time to move and see and identify—I now know—what it means to have moved without seeing, without engaging.
I did not recognize it then, but although I played a part in my experiences, I was cut off emotionally from others and myself. I missed so many opportunities to connect. But the world will impact you either way.
In the years following that trip, I focused on unearthing why I couldn’t feel much. In LA, I used acting and comedy to be vulnerable in front of strangers. I got into therapy, I read books.
I’m less of a robot now. That detached first quarter of my life gave me the gift of knowing what it’s like not to feel and wanting to get as far away from that state as possible.
I suspect that this is what living feels like. A fullness of hope found in the moments we spend absorbing the past and knowing (with a smile) that it’s over—despite and because of its influence.
“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward.” – Søren Kierkegaard
Life now feeds off the blind, meandering living of then. It’s eating a tasteless cream and later, unexpectedly, savoring the memory of the true technicolor flavor that had struck mind and mouth.
I’ve been paying dues, feeding each possible future with the decisions I have and haven’t trusted myself to make. And so it will continue, I suppose, indefinitely (and end-definitely).
As I sit in an empty house, staring at sleeping cats and feeling the dreary day try to let itself in, I know I’m heading somewhere I can’t actually see, and that perhaps I’ll only taste in full when it is over.
I don’t know what now’s moments hold, but I know it can be something . . . and that’s exciting.
I’d love to hear what you think…leave a comment if you please, and get an email when I write something new, won’t you?
Hey Megan! I love your blog, it’s very interesting and fun to read. I’m excited to read the rest!
Ahhh Katie, it’s so great to hear from you across the interwebs. It means a lot to connect and get feedback, so thanks m’lady 😀
I almost cried reading this. Almost.
Let it out Shawn boy!
I enjoy reading your thoughts, it’s so interesting to see where the people we meet end up after our paths cross briefly!
The part about being a robot particularly resonates with me, it’s taken me a long time to learn how to feel again which is weird because it should come naturally right?
Chel I loooooove hearing from you! And following your ridiculously interesting + INSPIRING life.
The robot stuff. Yeah. Natural is a tough word, because we’re *told* that being in touch with feelings should be natural, but what’s natural for is simply what we are, how we grew up, the examples we followed … it certainly wasn’t natural in my family. Training myself on a new way to feel has been difficult, to say the least … but worthwhile. And always work.