This week marks the two year anniversary of the day I left the states on a one-way ticket to freedom. It feels surreal to be celebrating this day two whole years later, when I swear it was just yesterday. Time is elusive isn’t it?!
Einstein said that time and space are an illusion. Perhaps this is an example in my life that connects me to that truth. Time flew by faster than a jet at full speed above me in the sky, and space became a great larger-than-life entity in what seemed like a very short period. How could one little person cover such a large portion of the planet? Let alone a girl in her twenties from Redding, California, no less. To many people from my home country, I’ve done the unthinkable, the unfathomable, the unspeakable. I’ve turned in my “high-class life” for a nomadic one which is less glamour and more passport stamps. It’s a trade I’d make again and again, regardless of what anyone thinks.
In two years I’ve covered twenty-nine countries across three continents, found love in more places than I can count, and started a website that launched itself into a business and continues to teach me about the digital world and all of it’s endless possibilities. I’ve learned to be more open through my writing, and in turn how to be more honest with myself. Much of that honesty comes from self-reflection and perspective, which I continue to gain everyday. Even now, while I’m home in California.
It’s strange being back in my home country this week as I look back on the last two years. “Did any of that even happen? I have whiplash,” I say to myself constantly. And even though I, admittedly, wish I was back on that yacht in Italy today, I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be…for now. Being home has given me clarity, gratitude And the space to decide my next moves.
To stay or to go…that was the question…Through reconnecting with my fellow Americans I’ve realized how blessed I am to be able to call myself a world traveler. I am told again and again how rare it is to do what I have done. It seems everyone “wants to travel SO bad” but won’t for any number of reasons. That’s what I keep hearing from people here in California anyway. “You’re so lucky!” They all say with wonder in their eyes. “But weren’t you scared? I mean what if you got kid napped?!”
I love this line, as it’s one of the most commonly asked questions from people who’ve never left the states.
“If I were kidnapped, well…I’d start in on one of my crazy rants and annoy them so bad that they’d have no choice but to drop me at the next corner,” I always respond (half) jokingly. Now let’s all touch wood and cross our fingers in hopes I never have to do such a thing. 🤣
The truth is, YES, I was scared to travel alone at first. I was terrified on that first flight out two years ago- I told you all as much in gross detail- but I let the fear fuel me, instead of derail me. I carried the weight I didn’t think I could bare and kept on, because I knew deep down that I absolutely HAD to. It was my destiny- and I know now that it still is. I am a natural born nomad. I can’t stay in one place for too long. I have to keep going, keep exploring, keep learning and growing as human being. I’ve realized this all over again by coming home and making a half-assed attempt at settling down here again. It’s just not in my DNA- at least not right now.
I tried to go back to my previous career. I tried to reconnect with old friends and re-enter my old circles. I tried to find my peaceful place here in the states, to no avail. I can’t stop thinking about leaving again. I can’t forget the rush of life I feel when I’m out there in the world exploring and learning. Now that I know what it’s like out there, how can I go back to normalcy?
I shared my feelings of reverse culture shock, but what I left out was how utterly debilitating it’s felt to return to normal life when I’ve morphed into what society considers a total weirdo. Americans love idea of what I’m doing, but can’t actually see it as a viable life option, rather something to gawk at like a cute baby or puppy. You walk by, give it a good glance and a smile, saying “How cute! I’d love to have one too…” full stop. No follow through. That’s how people feel about me being a Digital Nomad. “That’s really cool…but what about your retirement or your family life someday?”
“The American Dream” prevails and tries to suck me back in. But I just can’t do it anymore. I’m sorry, America. I’ve gotta go…again.
I have to keep traveling. There are 196 nations in the world and I’ve only seen 29 so far. I’ve got more work to do on my life goals.
“Once the travel bug bites there is no known antidote, and I know that I shall be happily infected until the end of my life.” – Michael Palin
So what’s next?
I’ve hinted at where I’m off to this fall and I’m ready to spill the beans…
I’m leaving next month on another one-way ticket… to PERU!!!
I’ll travel all through South America (hopefully I’m able to hit every country) and then possibly onto Central America or even back to South East Asia– you all know how obsessed I am with Thailand. Who knows! I’m leaving it open-ended, in classic Heather fashion.
What’s extra special about this trip is the fact that I’m going to have a travel buddy with me. My best girlfriend Tyguenne is going to be by my side the whole way through. We’re even on the same flight out of San Francisco. Having a partner to walk this new path with me is going to be a whole new experience that sure to bring out some crazy stories (and even better writing material).
“Two California girls taking on South America with open hearts and minds” is the new theme of upcoming life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Can you imagine the stories already? I can…it’s going to be crazy, beautiful and for lack of a better word…EPIC.
Obviously, this isn’t where I thought this year would take me. I thought I’d be happily married and on my way to settled down life, but things don’t always work out how you plan them and sometimes you’ve gotta improvise in grand fashion. I never could have done this had I stayed in South Africa, in a relationship, tied down to someone else’ life, and apart from my dreams.
Even though it took a heartbreak and a few very tough months to get here, I am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement for what’s about to happen.
Life is a crazy whirlwind adventure and I’m just getting back on the roller coaster. I’m ready!
So…who’s meeting us in South America?!
Ps. I’m serious. Come meet us somewhere beautiful my beautiful readers!