“Where are you from?”
An honest question. “United States of America.”
Too honest of an answer. “America” would get a heckle about the USA being way too single minded, as it’s only part of the Americas.
A compromise that hints at the political strife that currently exists.
That is where I am from, and that is where I have spent the last few weeks of this trip. “Done with your trip?” Perhaps. Perhaps I’m still traveling in familiar areas. I know people here. I have strong emotional attachments to locations. I’m living to a different beat than the one I heard before, which is painfully obvious as I can’t finish my plate and no longer really drink.
“Have you changed?”
“Far more violent!” my inner monologue yells. You can’t travel and come back the same. You are different, perhaps even better for a lucky few.
“But really, what did you learn?”
I learned I’m a picky eater, self-conscious about being in the way almost every second of the day, and I have a critical eye that is constantly taking in and judging far more data than can be useful.
“I was expecting a line about the people being amazing.”
Yes. You were. This reminds me of the joke about kids saying the darnedest things by someone who’d just been called fat and unhappy by an overly honest child.
My friends’ kids are growing up, and the thought of tripping for another year or spending time with them now is an easy decision. I’m there to be an influence of some sort, selfishly treating them like rattlesnakes (they are more scared of you than you are of them).
So what is different?
- I’m used to walking on the other side of the sidewalk.
- Portion size is double what I’m used to.
- There are places where it is really quiet and relaxing.
- People work really, really hard for dreams (sometimes their own).
- Art is everywhere.
- Cell phones are amazing, cherished and really fun to turn off.
- Social media types are hard to take seriously.
“Really, what is different?”
I am patient. I appreciate more. I eat less. I’m happier, quicker to judge and seeking to find someone to go out and travel with again. I learned how I react to someone having a seizure, to someone breaking my heart and what it feels like to look different, talk different and feel different.
“That is the trip of a lifetime.”
Lifetime is a trip.