As I drove home from work one evening this week, I got thinking about the variety of the experiences you can have being alone. I have a great deal of friends near and far, but I’ve spent a lot of time in my own company over the years–sometimes by choice and sometimes by circumstance.
For example, as an introvert, I spend a great deal of time in my own company and love times of peace and solitude. I work a job that is heavy on customer service, so at the end of the day, all I want is to curl up in my room and read my book. I’ve recently taken up hiking and, when I have the trail to myself, the world gets all quiet in a way that fills up my spirit. Being alone is restful–a haven away from the loudness of life.
I’m about two weeks into my European adventure… and boy, is it going fast. It feels like yesterday that I was preparing to leave L’Abri and now I’ve been to Scotland, Holland, and Germany. There are so many posts I want to write, but every time I sit down, I’m too exhausted to find the words.
(On a side note, if you want more frequent updates, I post photos regularly on Instagram. My username is ameliab648. I keep my account private, so send a request.)
Maybe some day, I’ll tell you about the two days I spent in Utrecht with my Dutch friends, Jorijn and Petra. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you about wandering the beautiful town of Heidelberg, Germany. Maybe someday, I’ll tell you about all the footage I’m taking on my phone for videography projects.
Today, though, I’ll tell you that traveling alone is hard, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. After months surrounded by people all the time, it is sometimes comforting to be alone. Sometimes, though, it’s not. It’s lonely and, at points, I long for someone to share my adventures with. Often times, I’ll go a full day without having a single conversation. When I come to stretches of my journey where I’m staying with people, I find it hard to stop talking. All the words that have been building rush out.
So far, I have only had one emotional meltdown and that was because I forgot to take care of my basic needs. When you haven’t eaten or slept for a long time, your body tends to shut down. In order to pay for all the museums and castles (and ensure that I’ll still have money when I get home) I’m keeping myself on a tight budget, so most of my meals have been supermarket food–sandwiches, yogurt, bananas, salad, nuts. It’s healthy food and keeps me going. I do like to splurge once in every country to try an authentic meal.
I’ve learned that half the battle is the hostel. When living on the road, it’s important to feel secure in the place you sleep. No matter where I am, I see my bed as a safe place, a refuge from the chaos of the world. My bed is my temporary home. In it, I can relax, breathe, and have peace. There are other things, though, that make or break a hostel: cleanliness, locker space in the rooms, plugs by every bed, good wifi, and a self service kitchen. It’s important to know that my laptop and phone will have a place to charge, that my belongings will be secure when I am gone, and that I can cook a hot meal for myself.
As I journey from place to place on busses, trains, and airplanes, I usually pass the time with a book. I’m reading That Hideous Strength by C.S. Lewis, the final novel in his Space Trilogy. It’s a pretty heavy book, so I’m taking my time with it. Being in the Scottish Highlands put me in the mood for Susanna Kearsley, who writes historical romances. I’ve finished The Winter Sea and am close to the end of The Firebird.
Another important part of any adventure is the soundtrack! Music helps me stay sane as I wait out long bus rides and navigate strange cities. Since its release on Friday, I’ve been listening non-stop to The Lumineers’ new album, Cleopatra. Here’s the title track:
I wish I could write more, but I’m off to catch my bus to Nuremberg… Until next time!
These days it feels like every time I open Facebook, someone I know has either gotten engaged, married, or pregnant. When it started happening a few years ago, the people were my brother’s age–older, more mature. Now, it’s my peers who are tying the knot and starting families.
Every time this happens, a little pang goes through my stomach.
I still feel like such a kid. In my head, I’m still that ten-year old girl who often asked herself: “What do I want to be when I grow up?” In the eyes of the world, however, I’m a legal adult starting a career. You would think that three months of farm work and endless time spent in my head would help me put two and two together. But I’m still relatively clueless.
I’ve thought about a lot of things. It’s my dream of all dreams to do Christian ministry work in Europe. But I’m beginning to see that dreams don’t happen overnight. Any European plans are likely to be down the road. What, then, shall I do in the meantime?
Should I go back to school and become a teacher? Should I take the GRE, apply to grad school, and become a librarian? Should I just take a random job, just to start somewhere, and reevaluate? If I do the last option, should that job be in my home community? In the cities? In a state far away?