Sometimes I'm blown away by how surreal my life is.
For example: the last three haircuts I got were on three different continents.
Maybe I should be used to it by now. Or maybe I shouldn't be - if I get to a point where I'm jaded enough that new experiences like this don't continue to amaze me, that's probably not a good thing. But regardless, I still have moments where I'm just absolutely blown away by where I am: "I'm actually riding a motorcycle around the French countryside."
I think part of the reason I started slacking off on blog posts towards the end of the trip through the Americas is because that feeling was sort of fading as I continued through South America. Some of what I was doing was new, and I was going to new places, but it just didn't blow me away the same way even a taco stand in Mexico could when I first started.
But now things are fresh and new again. Maybe it was because I took a break and went back home for a bit. (Well, "a break" - I spent five days at a festival and then spent a few weeks seeing friends and family, constantly in motion.) Or maybe just because this is something so different from what I was doing before, whereas in South America there weren't as many big jumps in culture or scenery. Sure, Chile is different from Argentina, but not the same way that Nicaragua was different from Costa Rica, or Panama was different from Colombia - or the way England is different from France.
Regardless, I'm finding myself feeling something that's what first got me to start traveling, and that keeps me traveling even when I've got something so amazing to go home to. A sense of wonder, a sense of discovery, even a sense of being in a bit over my head.
I look back at the path my life has taken, and it's somewhat hard to believe. If you'd told me at the beginning of college that I'd ride a motorcycle around every state the US, I might not have believed you. That's something people in books and movies do. Even after doing it, as much as I talked about doing a trip through Central and South America I'm not sure I really believed it until it happened. Those first few days in Mexico were surreal for that very reason. Even comparatively small things (compared to a world trip, at least) like moving to California still catch me off-guard sometimes and leave me in awe of where my life has ended up.
And I can't help but feeling sometimes like I just barely made it to where I am. When I packed up things to get on the motorcycle for the Americas trip, I had literally never had all that stuff on the motorcycle at one time before - I'd never done a test ride, I had no idea what I'd need, and things could have ended up far worse given that. When I hurt my ankle in Mexico, At that moment I felt all that surreal-ness collapse in a self-deprecating feeling of "see I told you this couldn't work." Like, of course that's what happens in the real world, people don't just get to take a world trip and have it work out like it does in the movies.
That collapse of the surreal feeling though... that's a big part of what I appreciate afterwards. Yeah, having a sprained ankle was horrible, but I appreciated everything after that so much more. Yeah, two flat tires in one day and hitchhiking back to town with a wheel under my arm in a desert in Argentina sucked, but the feeling of accomplishment when I finally got the bike back and running was so much better for it.
So much of what I've done could have gone poorly or not happened at all with just the smallest changes. I'd never done a long motorcycle trip before taking off on my US voyage - I could have gotten three days in and found out I hated riding the motorcycle every day. When I returned from that trip, I almost ended up getting a job in Tennessee instead of San Diego, and it was only a last minute offer from Qualcomm that kept me from taking a position I would have hated in a place I didn't like, and keeping me from meeting all the couchsurfers that helped inspired me to take the Americas trip. If I'd hurt my foot worse in Mexico, that would have been the end of the trip four days in and I probably would have scrapped the whole thing and put it off for a few years - if I ended up doing it at all.
So I'm going to try to keep up on the blog a bit more now that I'm continuing my travels, because I want to remember this sense of awe, of surreal-ness, when things start feeling "normal" again. I want to be able to go back and read the stories and remind myself how lucky I am to have a life so surreal that I can't even believe it half the time. And if I take off on a surreal adventure and it gets cut short, or doesn't get off the ground at all, I want to remember that you don't always get lucky, and it doesn't mean that I shouldn't get back up and try again.
So here's to a surreal life. And I'll try to share a little bit of that with you as well.