Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Layover

I’m sitting in Jordan’s Queen Alia Airport which is half under reconstruction, in some strange place that is between being super slick and powerful and being a dodgy airport where they leave the door to the smoking room open and the janitors sit around and sing.

It’s like a metaphor for the Middle East, or at least my understanding of it. I’ve only ever transited through the ME which, considering my degree focused heavily on the politics and history of this region, is a bit ironic.

I’m waiting to board the final flight for home and it’s a mixed emotion I’m wrestling with now. There is of course the extreme excitement of returning and seeing my husband and family and friends again. There is the anticipation of really really good food, because lets face it, few countries do food like America.

But there is also a touch of wistfulness, I have no future international travel plans. This ritual of layovers and sleeping in awkward positions that has become second nature to me this year is coming to a close. Of all the aspects of travel, I like the travel itself the most, the being neither here no there the going somewhere part, the motion, the movement. I love airports. I’ve always thought that they are proof that humanity can exist peacefully together if they wanted to.

There is a touch of worry too. It hit me, only a few days ago that I’ll be going not just back home, but back to America. I don’t know if you noticed, but America has got some issues. Issues that I have, for the last 11 months been pretty happy to avoid. Especially the economic ones. Coming from Australia where right now things are rocking and rolling it will be an abrupt transition.

Then of course, there are Americans. I haven’t seen all that many of them in the last year, we don’t get out much as a collective culture. Compared to have many people from European countries travel, or Australians, Americans either can’t travel or don’t have much interest or both. So soon I will find myself surround fully by a culture which I have been apart from for some time. I hear reverse culture shock is a thing and I wonder if it will happen to me. I suppose I should expect it.

Then there is the great question of what next? Travel and especially this trip have taken a huge amount of energy to pull off and suddenly there will be a vacuum where once travel preparation/planning/doing have been. I spent a good deal of time in Melbourne coming up with a ‘landing plan’ and I’m hoping that will help ease the transition.

Its exciting too, to see what can come next, what I can pour all this energy into.

Spending the last few days talking with ex-pats in Bangkok has been interesting. For one, we all are pretty tired and we all have changed since the last we met. The trouble with travel is that it looks good from the outside. It looks if nothing else, somewhat impressive. The reality is more of a mixed bag, especially if you are busy living which after a year you have to do. I’ve tried to be honest in this blog about the up and downs that travel brings and not paint a picture to rosy when things have been grey but the fact of the matter is, unless somebody has been there, they just don’t know what it’s like.

All these thoughts, these hopes and dreams and worries and doubts float around in my mind. I can only hope that the transition is smooth.

No comments:

Post a Comment