Our journey is almost to its end. Four more days, and we will be home. Thoughts of what the first day back, or even weeks after, are easy to picture: we’ve talked about minute details from the food we will make to what our rooms will look like. It’s a blessing and a curse when all details are rendered images that only exist in the mind’s eye and are not guaranteed future orchestrations.
The perceived simplicity of our ending times traveling is only simple because the cutting sights and smells of India have become dulled after being here for what seems like a long time now; at least, it feels like time has slowed since we started thinking of home. The muggy, blistering heat of Rajasthan has started to dampen the winding days that will drop us neatly on our feet at the Mumbai International Airport. “Outside” consists of ten-minute walks past beautiful artisan shops, alluring rooftop restaurants, and shouting tuk tuk drivers. It is something beautiful, something different.
Sometimes I imagine myself older, perhaps ten or twenty years from now, cleaning out my closet. Maybe it’s an apartment with French windows and a balcony; maybe it’s a house in the suburbs that has soccer balls and laughing children spilling onto the wild green lawn. In boxes are unframed photos of a younger me staring at the camera, in Thailand, in India. Pictures of Sawyer, of elephants, of ambling street corners. My thoughts may race, scramble to remember what it felt like to once have been there. It’ll be like a big sister self half chiding, half mesmerized by the gall of a younger sister self, whom all she can say to is, “you were so young… crazy and young and in love and young and not afraid.”
And then a smile, weathered but once-again-bright from youth remembered. Hopefully, I will not have disappeared behind curtains of comfort. Maybe at that time, I’ll be a month away from packing my suitcases to board a plane to Tangier or Tel Aviv. If we are the architects of our own fate, as Wordsworth or one of those transcendentalist geniuses once quipped, then I want to always be able to conjure within myself to let my hair down, to not be jaded or too analytical to do just that one simple thing. To not care about how dirty my tumbling thickets of hair might be, to assemble the worries to a bare minimum in order to operate and to enjoy. It’s not that hard when you’re jumping in and out of trains and pinching pennies to do just this. Let me remember this.
I will remember this trip in segments, in its golden and blackened moments. To describe how I feel about what this trip has brought about is too complicated to monotone it with a one-word depiction at this moment. Clarity will come with time; I guess that’s one “seasoned” lesson of maturity that makes me feel more adult, tainted, and strong. But I do know more than I did when I left home. I now know that you can’t ignore, you cannot live by judgement, you cannot sector yourself away when you are living with a partner; you can’t not talk about things. Compromise and acceptance I am beginning to know in deeper shades. I now know that places are only as good as the people that are in it. I now know that family - nuclear, extended, friends - mean everything to how quality a life is. I now know how important self-reliance is, particularly when it comes to the construction and sustainability of one’s happiness. I now know little things, like how to say hello in Tibetan and how to haggle. There are still many things I don’t know.
My mind’s already rounded a corner. Simultaneously planning ahead and regarding my current reflections make it difficult at times to feel as if my feet are gripped to the ground. Although I’m pretty certain that my “joie de vivre” may include consuming ambitions that elicit long-term planning, I’ll reform my flaw to fit the present moment. I’m young but I’ll honor the concept of time by only looking at my thoughts hour-to-hour, so that days tend not to melt together but punctuate into sharp memories of being twenty, complicated, and expressively free.