Sunday, March 9, 2014

reverse culture shock

I can't tell if the more I travel, the more it helps or hurts my life. I always tell people that it is worth the while. But they don't call it the travel bug for nothing.

Once you return from travels, your world is upside down. The normalcies of home...your bed, a hot shower, and in my case, Chipotle...they are more wonderful than you have ever realized. You appreciate them more than ever.

You can't wait to catch up with friends you've missed while you were away. You have so much to say about your much you learned, how wildly colorful the scenery was, how you cried when you had to say goodbye to the wonderful people you met. Yet when your friend politely asks 'How was your trip?', all you can muster is 'Great.' You don't know where to begin. Your friend, who hasn't traveled, asks where your favorite place was. Again, how do you begin to tell them that it was everything? You just respond 'I don't know' and then your trip begins to sound lame and your friend changes the subject.

You told yourself on the trip how as soon as you got home, you'd change the world with what you learned. You'll trash the rest of your useless CD collection and those outfits you only wear once. You'll be the friendliest kid around and start up conversations with random strangers like you did while traveling. You'll volunteer more. You'll be more honest and apologize more. You'll watch less tv. You'll read more.

By the end of the week, you're back into your routine. Your roommates are as messy as they were before you left. People are way to caught up in their cell phones and Facebook...including you. Your clients need everything pronto. You've stopped practicing Spanish because there's no need for it now in 'Merica. Your stomach is no longer nauseous, so you can go back to eating way too much of bad food.

The littlest things become nonsense to you. Your boss disciplines you for not filling out your timesheet before you left...probably secretly jealous that you were gone so long. You're bored with your friends stories of how their boyfriend isn't giving them the time of day yet they refuse to break up. The apples in the grocery store aren't as exotic as the coconuts you picked from the foreign trees. Your co-workers rave about this TV show you missed. There are way too many people buying way too much plastic crap at Wal-Mart that will just end up in a landfill next year. Commuting is a waste of time. As was a boring first date over a cup of tea.

None of that matters. And no one understands it but you.

What really matters were those kids in Cambodia who begged you for a meal. Those bricks you stacked to form a house in El Salvador. That perfect sunset on your last day in Thailand. That delicious 25 cent vegetable wrap your friend shared with you in Laos. That Vietnamese man who gave you a ride on his scooter because your backpack looked too big to carry. That moment you walked up the subway stairs and saw the streets of Paris unfold before your eyes. That Turkish woman who knew English and gave you directions when you were lost. That first kiss in the pouring rain. That Indian family who slept on the floor so you could have the bed. That final run along the beach at low tide in Ecuador, while the crabs ran frantically to the water.

Somehow you have to merge the two worlds...the mundane and the adventure. Make the mundane adventurous? You want to change the world. You want them to see it how you've seen it. You want to inspire.

Thank you to those who get it. To those who have been there. To those who haven't been there but have followed as closely as they can. 

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