When I first decided to blog about my travel journals, I had to decide how to handle a perplexing problem. I had no choice but to omit certain people that were present for various parts of my travels for different reasons. In some cases, names were changed, in others, the combined experience was absorbed as my own. I considered the impact this decision would have on retelling this story as one of fact while not disturbing sleeping dogs.
With all my heart, I thank my husband and children for their tireless support, for giving me the time required to put each entry together. Without your encouragement, I would never have been able to complete this project that has haunted me for so long. I also wish to thank you, loyal blog follower, for reading and sharing this adventure with me again.
There is something liberating about living out of a backpack. Being reduced to basics and essentials for an extended period makes life uniquely simple. Exploring different countries and learning about different cultures is educational for everyone, but especially so from a female perspective.
Especially valuable for a young woman are the life-skills one learns on a long term trip. Not only did I learn a little self defense, I had daily lessons in budgeting, planning, communication, geography, history, language skills and math. Finding your way around a strange city that doesn't speak a language you understand can be a very entertaining way to develop some useful problem solving and critical thinking skills. In fact, many employers view a long term trip as time spent gathering useful skills and real world experience.
In a way, I still travel, in the sense that I am on a great adventure. In the two decades that have passed since my time abroad, my knapsack has gotten bigger. It's now a 3 bedroom house that permanently contains a husband and two children. It's not quite as portable, but it exists on the same principle. Things work best when they're somewhat organized, which means I know where things are. It is, by no means, neat and tidy. The stairs are constantly covered with frequently used items that don't have a permanent home. Very much like a day pack that contains things I use on a daily basis. Surfaces are magnets for clutter. Notes, receipts, hair ties, school stuff, pieces of toys that young toddlers could ingest or need to be repaired. Much like corners in the bottom of a backpack where souvenirs and other items tend to gather when they haven't been needed in a while. I usually know where to find something. It's a lot like shoving a hand blindly into a pocket looking for my passport. It's in here, somewhere.
Our little family lives in a daycare. In its natural state, it has crafts in various states of completion that spread over tables and walls; art supplies that leak out of drawers; dismantled toys in a continuous state of reconstruction. Papers, crumbs, bits of Play-Doh and little hand-prints decorate almost everything; the result of the cyclonic destruction only a distracted four year old, two curious toddlers, three adventurous six year olds and a rambunctious nine year old can create.
This is my backpack now. It anchors me in this safe haven, yet remains in constant motion. Every day is a new adventure, filled with moments both chaotic and content, and mixed with a whole lot of curiosity. I have searched the world over and discovered that where I am is where I have always wanted to be.
Wife. Mother. Family.
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"I may not have gone everywhere I wanted to go, but I think I ended up where I needed to be."