Mona Lisas & Mad Hatters

I left Mexico. I needed to, there were goals and desires burning within me that could no longer be fulfilled within the confines of the Yucatan peninsula.

I’ve said many goodbyes; I left a life in Thailand, I left an extensive stint of backpacking in South America, I left a job in Tanzania, but nothing has been comparable. This time I was leaving more than I have ever had in one place. I could put a big giant check mark of happiness next to almost all aspects of my life.

So why leave? The answers were ones that took months to crawl forth from my mouth out into reality. Their taste metallic and foreign.

I craved stability. I wanted something that didn’t have to be stamped with a permanent expiration date. I longed for simplicity and comforts that I had never placed value on before. I started to see adventure etched into the interpretations of unspoken gestures and nights spent in quoting movies with friends.

After four years of questioning when the next place on a map wouldn’t lure me in a new direction I simply knew. Blue eyes staring straight into blue eyes I knew, an unwavering gaze, it was time to set up in a place of permanence. Give it a go. Sign a yearlong lease and feel my heart race the way it used to when I boarded planes headed towards airports with tantalizing names.

Something perhaps only travelers can understand is that as exciting as it is to move abroad, there comes a day, different for all of us, when the grand move, the big leap, isn’t such a risk anymore. I can do crowded markets and haggling over the price of onions. I can do nights of no electricity and icy mornings with only cold showers. I can navigate language barriers, and currency conversions, and thirty hour long bus rides. I needed to prove to myself that I could do these things, I needed to learn about the world, I needed to develop myself. My years abroad were vital.

Now I need to learn new things.

So while I sit in introspection, a look I pull off quite well, I can’t help but be overcome by gratitude. Incredibly thankful for one salient take away. It might sound trite, it may have already been said thousands of times all over the internet, but I still feel the need to throw my voice into the mix. Living abroad has made connection the most important aspect of my life, I couldn’t have been away from home for so long if I had not adopted new family members along the way. Travel has made connection vital.

Life throws connection at us in many forms, we do not need to go abroad to come to this realization. However, I did. I needed to step outside of myself in order to fully step into your stories. I needed to let my world be filled with obstacles in order to strip it all back to what really mattered. I needed to lose track of my narrative in order to simply sit and read yours.

Travel was my path towards experiencing connection in a way that was stripped down and vulnerable. Really it’s a result of growing up, which we all do in our own ways, at our own times, and which we all measure differently. A journey that is continuous, marked by achievements but never fully realized. For me travel was simply the catalyst.

And now, a new backdrop but the same story. I used to think that coming home was regression, I used to think that independence in its fullest form could only be achieved far from the place I was raised, I used to think that I needed to be abroad in order to be fully me. That my story was somehow segmented by each place, vignettes without a common thread.

Until I realized that the point was hardly Thailand, Mexico was merely a location, and Peru was simply a backdrop. It was all the people I met along the way that were what I was seeking, have been seeking, and will continue to find.