Sometimes I just sit and look at a map of the world. I run my fingertips over mountains and along rivers. I try to picture being there beneath the trees, or swimming in that lake, driving down that road. What does the sky look like there? How does the air feel?
When I left the UK 2 years and 3 months ago I knew I was taking a big step, but I hadn’t quite bargained for how it would change me and my mind-set forever. I used to say I was content staying in the UK, why leave when I’ve not explored it all anyway? That was fear talking. Self-doubt. I didn’t think I had it in me to throw what I could into a rucksack and leave. When I did leave, unknown to me at the time, I was setting myself up for a life of one-way flights, worn out sandals and long distance phone calls.
Because once you’ve travelled, how can you stop? Once you’ve expanded your horizons, how can you forget what lies over that edge? How can you ignore that urge to see more, know more, do more? Your world is as big as you make it…and I’ve made mine very large indeed. I’ve been swimming in a lake three times purer than tap water, camped underground, driven a boat. I’ve travelled thousands of kilometres in a matter of days. How about the time I balanced with the Devils Marbles or lived on a tropical island? I’ve also run over a lizard the size of a cat (by accident), slept in the back of a van with a knife beside the bed and nearly been killed by several Australian drivers. But it’s all so addictive! Why would I want to stop?
So no, I won’t be coming home, permanently. I’ll be coming home and checking in with the people I’ve missed. I’ll be working hard to get my health back on track. I’ll be catching up with the incredible amount of life that can pass you by in 2 years. I’ll be meeting my nephew for the first time, finding out what it’s like to hug my mum again and discovering I’ve picked up a ridiculous accent. I’ll be resting, because I’ve worn myself out a bit. Then who knows what. I don’t even know how long all of that will take. A year? 3 maybe. I might go live in Glasgow for 5 years, why not? But not 50 years, not the rest of my life, not permanently.
I’ve booked myself a one-way flight home, but it certainly won’t be the last time I throw my life into a rucksack, trust me.