I said that my trip belonged to the ages, but it really doesn't. It's still with me and will forever be a part of me. All of my long term trips have changed me in different ways. This trip gave me insights into myself and the world and how good life can be. It was one of the greatest times of my life, if not the very best time. Every day I drift back to my travels and think of the friends that I made. They are what turned what was an outstanding trip into a...well, what it became. I don't know the word at the moment. One thing that many travelers dread is going home to people asking, "How was it?", having them listen for 60 seconds and never discussing it again. Valerie was annoyed when someone said, "You haven't changed a bit." She just had a life-changing experience and someone says that she hasn't changed...how can this be? One person asked me, "How have you changed?" I expressed my gratitude at their question. They said, "You would probably be disappointed if you came back the same. Correct?" I said, "You understand." So when I say that my life is different after my travels I mean that. I expect it to be that way.
I started writing this travelogue almost one year to the day after returning. I waited that long for two reasons:
2) I wanted time to reflect on my experiences to see how I would view things over time
My mom showed me the letters I wrote from NZ. I get the same feeling from reading them as I do from this travelogue, so this really captures the spirit of my trip pretty well. It's worth noting that I wrote this from memory. I basically sat down with a blank page and started writing. My diary was used for 10% of the writing, primarily as a backup to confirm what was already written-it wasn't needed for anything more. I can tell you what I was doing on every day simply from what I remember. That's how much of an impression that traveling makes upon me. What were you doing on a daily basis 12 to 18 months ago? Most people wouldn't know, but I do. What was I doing 3 months ago now that I'm home? I'm not really sure.
I often meet people who say, "I wish I could have a life like yours." I tell them, "You can. You just have to do it. You'll never regret it." You know, I've met people who've been married and have come to regret it. I've even met people who have had doubts about whether they should have had children, not many, but a few. However, I've never and I mean never met anyone who did an extended trip and said, "I really shouldn't have traveled."
One reason I'm trying to finish this up is that tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Europe where I'll spend a month. I'll be staying with many of the people that I've introduced in these chapters. It will be a great time. So do more than dream about it. It's a big and interesting world that will never cease to surprise and delight. So go out and...Wander Far And Wide.