Warning: I’m feeling a little blue today. I don’t know if my melancholy is contagious but hopefully you won’t feel too depressed after reading this post. Feel free to prescribe your cures in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Lately I have been wondering, well actually, torturing myself over one particular question: What is the real cost, the unspoken cost, of a life on the road RTW?
It’s not the money I’m worried about – we’re bang on schedule in that department (I’ll discuss our budget in more detail in a future post). It’s not quitting my job or selling my stuff that weighs heavy on my mind either. Nor does the fear of living 24/7 with Lee, and the strain that may put us under.
The things that concerns/scares/freaks the crap out of me most, is leaving the people I love behind.
I have searched the blogs of long-term travellers but have yet to find a post that discusses how they deal with the pain of missing people. Do their family and friends come out to visit them? Do they take annual trips back home? How do people deal with the feeling of missing out, and the overwhelming guilt of leaving those they love behind to go and live a life they don’t really understand? I have been clinging to this awesome quote for comfort:
I’m not telling you it’s going to be easy
I’m telling you it’s going to be worth it.
- Art Williams
You see, it all started with a coffee.
The other day I was at home, sick in bed, when I heard a knock at the door. Looking rather bedraggled and unsightly, bundled up in my dressing gown, I hesitated as to whether or not I should answer it. I sheepishly tucked my hair behind my ears and went to the door, only to find my best friend Phillipa standing there, with a smile, a hug and a Starbucks gingerbread latte all for me. She had literally driven from the other side of town, via my favourite coffee house, just to come and cheer me up.
We sat at the kitchen table and chatted for a few minutes and then she suddenly burst into tears. She said she had been listening to a song on the radio on her way over that reminded her of me and had made her so sad. She couldn’t bear to think of me leaving, but loved me too much to ask me to stay. We both sat there crying, fully aware of the cost of my RTW travel, and what that meant to us. Being on the other side of the world to my best friend is going to be like torture, and to be honest, I don’t know how I am going to cope.
The song that made Phillipa think of me
It made me realise that it is these priceless moments that I will miss the most when I am gone – nothing else will be able to take their place. No matter how many amazing people I meet or connections I make on my travels, none of them will hold as much meaning as a hug and a cup of coffee from my best friend in the world.
I am so lucky – I have a wonderful family, and a group of friends I consider family too.
My mum raised my younger sister and I alone. Her own mum moved from Essex to Brighton to help take care of us while my mum worked. These two incredible women raised us and showered us with more love than you could imagine. And they still do. They are the bookends to my world, each of them holding everything together. It terrifies me to think of the disarray that will ensue when I don’t have them there to hold me up anymore. How will I keep my books in order, and will I like the story they tell? I am acutely aware that every moment spent with them is precious, and I question giving up so many of these moments in order to travel the world.
My bookends, my Grandmother and my Mother
My younger sister Ceri lives in Los Angeles, so we have already adjusted our relationship and I know that our closeness will continue via Skype and FaceTime. For some reason though, this doesn’t help prepare me for missing anyone else.
My older sister Rachel lives about an hour’s drive from me. Though we don’t see each other that often, I know I will feel the wrench enormously when I leave for India. Rachel also has a two year old daughter, my beautiful niece, Olivia. She is just the cutest little thing ever. Well, I say little, she is actually huge for her age and well on her way to supermodel status, with legs that go on forever and leave her with a Bambi like gait she never seems quite in control of! It has been incredible watching her grow up. Everytime she reaches for my hand and leads me off to explore fills me with such happiness. I am terrified of missing moments like these.
My older brother Huw recently married and I now have three new nephews on top of the one he had already blessed me with. Though I don’t get to see them very often either, going away means I won’t get the chance to share special moments such as birthdays and holidays with them at all, and I will miss waching them grow up first-hand. My nephew William is such a cheeky little fellow and makes me laugh every time I see him. I hope he will still want to do this over the internet!
My brother, sisters, niece and nephew
My best friend gave me the honour of being Godmother to her amazing little girl. Right now my Goddaughter Priya is 18 months old. She just recently said my name for the first time and I literally MELTED. That moment was so pure and joyful, I will remember it for the rest of my life. But what other equally pure and joyful moments will I miss spending with her? I will miss her birthdays, her first day of school, and a million other milestone moments. I feel like the worst Godmother in the world by having the audacity to leave her, this precious little bundle that I love so deeply.
My best friend Phillipa and my Goddaughter Priya
Then there are my three best friends, Phillipa, who I have already mentioned, Danica and Anna. God, leaving them is literally like leaving a chunk of myself behind. There are experiences that I only share with them, and nothing will be able to take their place. These three women are my soul mates, the family I have chosen for myself. Though I know they will always be there for me, I still worry about the things I will miss out on, and how this will make me feel while I am away. You better come and visit me LOADS ladies!
My BFFs, taken on my 31st birthday at Trailer Trash Night!
Sometimes I worry that the price is just too much and I stand there consumed by my buyer’s remorse, unsure if I have made the right decision. Though deep down inside I know this is right for me, I still worry about all the non-returnable moments I am walking away from. I just hope Art Williams was right.
How about you? Are you preparing for RTW travel yourself and do you find yourself with similar concerns? Or are you currently travelling? If so please share your thoughts on this subject – I would love to know how you stay connected with everyone back home.