Copyright 2016 © Kate Kelsen. All Rights Reserved
Looking around the train carriage at the other commuters, of those that are not dozing off, the rest are looking down at their phones. I used to be like this. Now, I just feel disconnected. I feel confused, because I don’t know who I truly am anymore. For a while now I have had this horrible feeling that I cannot completely understand. Sadness, nervousness, uncertainty. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy getting back into life at home in Australia, but I could never have imagined just how hard it would be.
Twelve months I spent traveling through the UK, Europe, Asia, New Zealand and Australia. Every day there was something new around the corner, yet there were no plans or responsibilities except for staying alive and getting from place to place. A year had seemed like a long time to be away, but it was over in the blink of an eye. By the end of it I was exhausted, yet excited for the next chapter.
My return home has felt like a plummet back to Earth; everything feels so different, yet exactly the same. My first sleep in a real bed was amazing, yet so strange. My clothes are now hung up in a closet rather than strategically compacted into a backpack. There are more than four shirts and two sets of pants. The space around me feels so large. Sometimes the contrast is too much, and I feel irritable toward everything reminds me that my trip is over. I don’t know why, but talking to people about my travels often makes me feel awful.
Rebuilding my life at home often seems too much to comprehend. Looking for a job, for somewhere to live, is all so mundane. I often sit for hours pouring through my photos. I miss the people, the places, the smells, and the sounds. I miss the person that traveling caused me to be. I feel like I have lost her. All good things must come to an end, but some foolish part of me refuses to accept it.
More than once I have laid in bed and just cried. During one of these meltdowns, my sister reminded me that the changes I was experiencing were significant, and to let the feelings just be. To accept the situation for what it was, reaffirming that it was okay to feel this way.
At the next station a handful of commuters stand and move towards the exit doors. Observing the repetitive monotony of ‘home’, of people unconsciously shuffling through the paces of their day, I know life will never be the same for me. I will never again be the person I was before my trip. There is a hole inside of me now that can never be healed. I will never ‘get over it’, I will just have to accept it and learn how to live with it. I just need to give it time.