I am always reading posts on the loneliness that travelers face and the sacrifices we must make as we hit the road. I think about this all the time as I am at a crucial stage in my life when the road has forked.
For the last year travel has been the ultimate goal, the one thing that I am truly passionate about. I want to see the whole world and it baffles me the number of amazing people that are out there for me to meet. But I remember that I have to come to grips with the hard times too. When our group started breaking up in Australia, people began moving on, it was really scary. I wanted to shut off and go into hiding until they had left. I didn’t want to face the thought that I might not see them for more than another year. I have been lucky with this group, as we have all kept in touch really well and most of us have seen each other at least one other time since we left Oz.
Now, I’m starting to struggle with something else. Leaving home. I never had a problem leaving home, being away from my family or friends or starting a completely different life. Maybe what I hadn’t realized was that, even though I would’ve given an arm and a leg to stay in Australia at the time, I always knew in the back of my mind that I would go back home. I would return to my friends, my family, my sorority and the comforts of Seattle. Well, I was unpleasantly surprised to get home and find that everything had changed.
I wasn’t living in the sorority anymore but about twenty minutes outside of town, which meant I didn’t get included in almost all of the plans because I wasn’t easily accessible. I was working over forty hours a week and taking classes with none of my friends. I was essentially alone, and sad to say, for a long time my friends let me be. A couple of friends in particular who I considered some of the best completely turned the tables. They had promised to keep me company and make my transition easy and not only did they eventually disappear but when I needed their support the most they took the opposite side. I suddenly wasn’t allowed to talk about wanting to travel, about my Italian boyfriend and about not wanting to get a job in Seattle. Often times when I brought up my thoughts on the issues, everyone around would just stare before returning to conversation between them. It was the worst feeling of isolation.
Then, I came to Italy. Everyone was so excited for me and so happy that Lorenzo and I had worked things out. Then I was here and they went on with their lives. There was some initial interest in what I was doing and it ended there. I went back to Seattle after three months to get my visa and I had an amazing time, I saw my friends at a stage in their lives that I had already passed. They were about to graduate, they were dealing with getting jobs and picking roommates and the ever daunting task of, after four years, weeding out your true friends from your sorority sisters. I was relieved to see the changes taking place as suddenly they seemed to realize I too was an integral part of their lives.
Then I left again. I have kept in touch with a lot of people from home and I also understand the busy stages of life everyone is in but it’s hurtful at times. I see the pictures from graduations and parties and traditions that I was a part of only last year, and I comment to no avail. I ask for updates and send my own only to find no responses.
I try my best to keep contact with old friends on facebook or through emails or even my blog and I find that they don’t seem to care. It’s a stupid thing, but I know I’m not alone when I say this, but when I write someone a message on facebook and don’t receive a response it can be disheartening. But when I see that person has a ton of other activity and has seemingly passed me by in the midst, it hurts. Sometimes, I wonder if people think that I am a lost cause. I took off while they stayed in their everyday life, so it’s too much of a risk to try to keep the contact. Maybe they weigh the options and think that I’ll never come back.
A lot of people’s advice is to cut your losses, realize who are true friends and who are not. It’s hard to give up on people that I have shared four (or more) amazing years with. It seems like I’m stuck in the middle of this constant tug-of-war between my dreams and my meaningful relationships. I’m lucky to have Lorenzo with me, he is my best friend, and I have met some amazing friends here in Florence too but it’s scary to think that if for some reason everything falls apart, what if I don’t have anywhere to run to?
I know there are plenty of other travelers and blogger out there who can relate to I can definitely use some words of encouragement here!