Long-term Travel Isn’t Always Unicorns and Rainbows

Many scorn Facebook for its fake nature. Each social media post is a window to that person’s reality.  The size, slant, and tint of the window is influenced by what they want you to see, what they want to hide, where they are, who they are with, what they had for lunch, and how they see themselves. I admit that my Facebook posts tend to focus on the good things and skim over the challenging aspects of long-term travel.

Personally, I love that Facebook has nurtured friendships and gifted me with a feeling of closeness to friends that I cannot see often. This is especially true when traveling.  I have met some wonderful people that without social media would have faded away to hazy, fond memories rather than developing into friends.

Finding my own brand of misfits in Kansas

Growing up in small-town Iowa, I had fewer friends than fingers and most were my cats. I was an outcast because I didn’t go to church, didn’t wear trendy clothes and didn’t have a good Dutch name starting with Van or De (the D & V sections of the Pella phone book comprised 60% of the entire book!) There were a couple of fellow misfits who befriended me, but most girls were downright mean. It wasn’t until I moved to Kansas that I discovered that I was only a misfit because the town I grew up in was too small to have my kind of misfit. Former classmates could have written this sentence from 30 Days to a Better Vocabulary about me:
She is a social leper, let us ostracize her

Releasing myself from my inner twelve-year-old

A big concern about following my dream to live in Europe was that I would be lonely and I wouldn’t make any friends.  When I voiced this fear to friends, I was humbled at their astonished responses. “Christina, you make friends where ever you go! What are you worried about?” Objectively, I can see that truth, but I haven’t convinced my inner twelve-year-old. So when Stacy said that she would join me on this grand adventure, I was thrilled to have an accomplice to explore with and slay ghosts of pariah past.

Stacy & Christina friends sharing fears, joy and irritations
Stacy and I have been great friends more than half our lives and have lived together three times so we felt reasonably confident that we had a chance at making this work. Overall it has been wonderful, but it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. We post photos of breathtaking scenery and glowing smiles.  We don’t photograph the times we ‘re shooting Mechagodzilla beams out of our eyes at each other or are adrift in our private universes of homesickness, irritation, or anxiety. Though we have many similar interests and often speak in unison; our personalities and social needs are quite different.

Plus, we’re both going through a lot of shit.

  • We’re used to living alone. We miss our private spaces and our own beds.
  • I typically spent 5 out of 7 evenings socializing with different friends.
  • Stacy is a solitary person who lets a privileged few visit her outer fortress on her own terms and time.
  • Stacy has only recently transformed her childhood home into her private oasis.
  • I have no home to return to. The place that I poured my time, money, and love into is no longer mine and I have no surrogate place to transfer those feelings to.
  • I have thin eyelids that don’t allow me to sleep when the sun creeps in.
  • Stacy treasures her sleep and has trained her friends and family to not disturb Herself before noon on weekends.
  • I exclaim enthusiastically when I experience something I enjoy and want to share.
  • Stacy prefers stoicism.
  • I am a planner.
  • Stacy prefers to go with the flow.
  • We’ve both been taught that you don’t leave a job before you have a new one.
  • We have no idea when we’ll be making money again or what we’ll be doing to make it.
  • We miss our pets and friends and family and don’t know when we’ll see them again.
  • We’re both already tired of searching for the next place we’ll stay after the current one.
  • There’s no avoiding the “What should we do for dinner?” question no matter where you are in the world.  😜
Stress?  No Stress Here.

The importance of open communication

This adds up to a recipe for tension, misdirected feelings, irritation, and strife. My instinct was to avoid talking about the tough stuff. Open communication about conflict was nearly nonexistent in my past relationships. In my marriage, I learned that dialogue about disagreements never paid off.  Better to swallow those feelings and thoughts than let them be twisted against me.  Thankfully, at Stacy’s insistence, we have had remarkably constructive conversations. Stacy won’t let that happen. “Christina, if we can’t talk about these things, they’re just going to fester.” Already, I can see noticeable improvements in the way that we interact.  It’s going to take work, but just cracking open the window of free interchange is damn refreshing – even when it’s hard.
Christina and Stacy learning to communicate

 

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  • Unknown

    May 12, 2018 at 2:07 pm
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    ❤️❤️to you both!

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About Me

Hi, I'm Christina. I love travel, cats, gardens, house sitting, birds, painting, dogs, museums, good food & drink, you know - all the good stuff! I've been working on my first memoir, Magicians, Cross Dressers and My Uterus while living my second!

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