I know it’s blatantly obvious but we tend to force ourselves into a state of comfortable self induced denial. Maybe you realise as soon as you step off the plane, maybe it will take you a few months to sink in but everyone and everything you ever knew throughout the course of your entire life is on the other side of the planet. You are somewhere else.
You wake up after another bender of a night in another random European town and you call your parents again to tell them your still alive. “No Mum, I didn’t break my neck chasing a wheel of cheese off a hill in Gloucester.” “It’s okay Dad, I didn’t get gored to death running with the bulls in Pamplona.” It’s still the afternoon but back home it’s 11pm and your parents are about to go to bed. They tell you that they are in the middle of a monsoon of a thunderstorm. It’s so hot where you are that you can’t remember the last time you wore a shirt, let alone the last time it rained. They tell you that your niece is now walking. She could barely crawl when you left. They tell you of another birthday celebration that you’ve missed. Another anniversary. Another holiday not celebrated in the country your currently in.
Every time you hear news from back home, it’s like you’re watching a movie. Home is a distant memory. You are somewhere else. In another place and another time. Now you know how Marty from “Back to the future” felt every time he stepped into the Delorian and left everything he knew behind.
You feel detached from reality. The only constants are your traveling companions and your van. Everything else changes on a day to day basis. You feel frustrated that every time you learn your way around a new city, it is already time to leave town. Every time you memorise how to speak the basics of a language, it’s time to leave the country. You learn to adapt to your surroundings quicker and quicker and before you know it, the idea of not knowing what lies ahead is mundane.
Constantly changing your circumstances forces you to evolve. You find yourself growing on a daily basis. Becoming more confident. More capable. Your life becomes categorized into two eras. Before Travel. After Travel. You start to forget what life was like B.T. Back when you had a full time job. Back when you had money. Back when you scarcely ventured outside of a 10 kilometer radius of your apartment. You forget what its like to have money but you don’t care. If being a tight arse allows you to stay overseas than so be it. You go a whole month eating nothing but chip sandwiches. You’ve learnt to cut your own hair so you don’t have to pay for haircuts and now you have to wear a hat until the bald spot on the side of your head grows out.
You think about your double bed back home. About your constantly warm shower and your microwave oven but you know that you don’t really need these things. You are self sufficient. You are free. Emancipated. You do what you want to do and go where you want to go. You are a backpacker.