February 15, 2017

Re-entry

What happens when you return home after traveling the world for a year? That’s what I’m learning right now.

And that, in itself, is a new adventure!

I didn’t want my RTW journey to be an isolated chapter in my life. I’d always hoped that the spirit of my trip would continue long after I landed back in the United States. And, even though I may need to start making more conventional choices, my hope is that I’ll remember the value of taking a left turn now and then. Plus, the things that are possible when I ask: What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

Right now, that means moving to a new city and forcing myself to work with a blank slate.

And a blank apartment! I already knew I was more of a minimalist, and my travel experience sealed the deal. I had no problem living out of a suitcase for a year, and I had plenty of AirBnB, bed-n-breakfast and hotel room perspective to see what was most useful day-to-day. That helped me craft a list of what I’d need for furniture and stuff when I found new digs. And it wasn’t much.

The most fun was decorating, minimalist-style. I’ve hung just a few things on the walls, but that’s enough to make me so happy. When I was traveling, I never bought anything that I couldn’t easily pack, and I always made room for museum postcards. Here they are in their new home!

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I also took more than 10,000 photos. What to do with them? This engineer print from Parabo Press cost $20. The washi tape was less than $2 at Hobby Lobby. When I’m not wearing my boots for travelin’, at least I can picture them in action. And that makes me happy too.

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And near my front door, there’s a Maneki-neko from Gotokuji Temple to invite good fortune. Come on in!

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Returning to the U.S. was easier, emotionally, than I had anticipated. It was nice to have a home base versus changing locations every few days. It was also wonderful seeing loved ones. The timing felt right, and I was excited about beginning a new chapter.

But one day, while I was still getting settled, I was feeling a bit lost and melancholy from all the change. That’s when I noticed a piece of paper on the floor. Had it fallen out of my suitcase, or from bins I was unpacking?

It was a tiny envelope addressed to: You wherever you are.

Look at the tiny, hand drawn postmark! I added a quarter to the picture for scale.

Here’s what the envelope looked like on the other side.

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And here’s the message it contained.

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How ’bout that?

I have no idea where this little piece of “mail” came from, but it was a very special delivery at just the right time. It’s always wondrous how the smallest things can change the course of your day.

Did someone put it in my stuff? Was it tucked inside something I bought? I love solving mysteries, but I think the message here is what’s most important — and worthy of sharing.

I’m not sure what being remarkable would look like, but there’s no doubt I had a remarkable year traveling the world. My things may be unpacked, but there’s still so much to process mentally. The level of kindness I experienced. The stunning places I visited. It was better than I’d ever imagined.

While I figure out the best way to move forward, I hope what I’m leaving behind on this blog will inspire others to embark on their own adventures, big or small.

And I hope it reminds me to stay adventurous in spirit. An open-ended journey can be less scary — and so much more rewarding — than a predictable path.

When I was in the first few weeks of my RTW trip, I felt very unmoored, almost like I was in shock. I kept asking myself: Do you want to go back? 

The answer was always no. And I’m so grateful.

I hope there are many more adventures in my future. And in yours.

Thank you for reading!