Travel Hangover

I’m here. I now live in Greensburg, PA. I have a job, (looking for another,) I have an apartment, (well, privacy curtains in my friends living room) I have a gym membership, a couple bars I like, the lady at the coffee shop knows my name. I have a routine. I’m here.

But then I pulled out my small backpack. It fits my computer perfectly so when I head to the coffee shop I throw my weathered Macbook in there, grab my wallet and gear up to write, read, write letters–general coffee shop ‘things’. But last weekend I really looked at my back pack. I noticed how dirty it is. Months worth of sweating through SE Asia, being thrown on buses, running a 50k ultra marathon, transporting bottles of beer and water.

Then I noticed the random things I had tied on when the zipper toggle broke: a friendship bracelet from my native ‘tour’ guides in Sa Pa, Vietnam, safety pins, hair ties, whatever random things I could find that would work. Digging through the inside pockets I found a tin of Tiger Balm from Cat Ba Island when I got thrown off a motorbike, I found the equivalent of a few dollars in Malaysian Ringet. I found more dirt. I found Thai Baht. I found candy wrappers from treats my students gave me.

I found memories.

And then I remember: I’m here. I’m in Greensburg, PA furthering my career, saving money, making connections. And I wonder why I continue to look elsewhere. I run around the hilly neighborhoods and notice the architecture of such a historic town–then I remember the park I trained in with the 1000 year old Buddhist Wats. And I’m pulled back into the world of memory. I hate that world. I remember how hard it was to be in Thailand. I remember how much I wanted to ‘be’ somewhere for a while.

I found memories and now I need to begin making memories, here. And for some reason this is the hardest thing, for me. Travel is great but the travel hang over seems to last for months.

 

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Need Vs Want

I have an on going list of things that I need to buy when I return Stateside. With every goal I think I’m setting comes another large purchase.

  • A smartphone. To text, facebook, and tweet.
  • A new computer. To facebook, tweet, email and maybe write.
  • A juicer. To try and replicate the juices I’ve had in SE Asia.
  • A car. To jam out to tunes when karaoke bars are not readily available.
  • A down payment on an apartment. To store all my new purchases.
  • A bike tune up (x2, I have 2 bikes.) I guess for safety.
  • Plane tickets. To see my best friend get married.
  • Micro brew beer. To drink.
  • New running shoes. To run.

The list continues on with things like a new wardrobe, shoes and other things. Which is what all of these objects are, things I need. Wait. Need? Need or want? Realistically, I’ve been living out of a backpack for months and have done just fine with out any of these things. Need vs. Want. When you truly narrow it down, what do you actually need?

 I spent the day trekking through the mountains of Loi Cai with a Vietnamese Hill Tribe woman for hours, she welcomed me into her home and cooked me lunch while her family wandered in and out of the small building. Her kitchen was a pot, a hole in the floor for fire and a spicket outside. Her living room was a dirt floor void of furniture. The most extravagant things she owned was her clothing and jewelry—most of which was made either by herself or one of her village people. This was truly minimalist living.

I asked her if she was happy. Happy bringing travelers like me into her village for the day, living the way she does—her genuine smile answered the question without words.

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