As my trip comes to an end, the days are fading away faster and faster, going by in the blink of an eye. But it feels like I've been waiting in Tel Aviv forever to catch my flight home.
Sometimes time goes by too fast and then it goes too slow.
I know I'm not making sense, but try and stay with me. See, for the past week, time seems to have turned inside out. With the end of my trip quickly approaching, a battle has sparked inside of me - part of me is trying to slow down time to savor every last minute, while the other part of me is whispering, "we're so close to the finish line, all the comforts of home are waiting for you - a nice clean bed, home-cooked food, friends, family...no more packing and unpacking every 3 days...just days away..."
Burn out has reared it's ugly head in the past week, but that spark that ignited the flame to travel is still burning bright.
So I'm confused. But content.
And as I've thought about why I feel this way, I've realized it's because there's this light at the end of the tunnel - my ticket home. And I'm not used to having something so definite and stable in the forecast. Not anymore.
My mind's been moving at 100 miles per hour this whole trip, on high alert the whole time, constantly preparing for the next step, the next city, the next adventure. The idea of switching to autopilot at home is both insanely appealing and so seemingly boring.
Whereas each previous boarding pass I handed in was a ticket to the end of my comfort zone, this one is taking me in the opposite direction, to all that is familiar.
The more I thought about it, the more my mind was torn. This journey was too fun, too exhilarating, too spontaneous to go back to normal life. Thoughts of jetting off to Southeast Asia or Australia bounced around in my head. But only for a minute, because I've got to admit, I'm exhausted, mentally and physically. Coming back to Tel Aviv, where this adventure began, has made this abundantly clear. When I think back to the last time I was here, I was chatting it up with everyone in sight, making plans to go out and party with complete strangers, and staring straight at my upcoming trip, eager-eyed and clueless, with no idea what adventures awaited on the other side. When I landed in Tel Aviv this time, after months of trekking through an entire continent and having the time of my life, I noticed the soles of my shoes had completely worn down, and so had I. As much as I tried to fight it, with the end in sight, it's more about reflection and relaxation than crazy adventures and spontaneity.
The two sides waging war finally came to terms with each other as I was floating in the ocean the other night - the red Tel Aviv sun setting beyond the horizon in front of me, the moon rising behind, and me hanging in balance right in the middle. I realized that the chase of adventure and the unknown that I love so much doesn't have to end just because I'm grounded in LA. Yes, nothing is as new and unique, and it's harder to meet people when you're not bouncing around hostels, but ultimately it's up to me to push myself to explore new pockets of the city, put myself out there in new situations, and sustain the traveler's mindset while at home.
As I sit in this cafe in Tel Aviv staring out the window, taking in the world as I have so many times through the windows of planes, trains, and buses, I'm both nostalgic for the past 3 months but overwhelmingly excited to see what the future holds. And maybe it doesn't matter if these last days are moving fast or slow. Just that they're passing and there's no point in trying to control how fast. Because I know that I'll always be able to look back on this exact moment, this time in my life, and be proud that I veered off the beaten path - I woke up every morning with a smile on my face because I knew that in the following 24 hours nothing was certain and everything was possible. I was lucky enough to do exactly what I wanted for so long, taking advantage of each and every day, whether that meant gathering a group of strangers to run around and explore a new city, or laying on a beach somewhere and wasting away an entire day by myself.
So, if none of what's above made any sense (which is very likely), let me sum it up - as much as I'll miss this crazy, chaotic lifestyle, I've admitted to myself that I'm ready to come home. Because life is full of adventures and little surprises whether you're at home or abroad - you just have to be looking in the right places and be willing to buy the ticket.