It’s now the end of Feburary, 2016, and I’m writing from my family home in southwest Virginia. I’ve been home for nearly a full month. The trip – at least this particular trip – has come to an end.
This blog fell by the wayside a bit toward the end of my trip, which I felt guilty about but in a way was a good thing. I was so introspective when I first began backpacking. I was being terribly self-critical about my writing and even the trip itself. I would spend hours overthinking my entries. Around the fall of 2015, which was the last time I wrote, I finally began engaging with my surroundings a little more and ended up writing less as a result. I guess traveling isn’t just an experience, but also a skill that you can get better at. So as I’ve gotten better at traveling, I’ve learned to enjoy it more, and I only feel a little bit guilty that this blog became a casualty of that part of the trip.
I’ll write a few entries in the coming weeks to round out the story of my trip – there are a few good stories, actually, and heaps of pictures – but first a quick update on my life right now —
I arrived back in the US on the 30th of January, fantastically sick with some kind of exotic Hungarian flu and nearly delirious after a couple of days of short nights and long plane rides. Fortunately, there’s no better place to be sick than your parents’ house, which is where I’ll be staying for the next few months. Mom filled me full of gluten-free soup and high-dosage American cold medicine and I was recovered after a week or so.
I’m staying at home until the middle of May. A sensible person probably would have taken this opportunity to rest and recover from 16 months of backpacking, and maybe do some quiet reflection on the nature of travel. However, I am not a sensible person so I got up at 8am the morning after I arrived and immediately went to work.
But I have a good reason for jumping into work again, readers! Have you heard of the artist visa offered by the city of Berlin? Unique in all of Europe – as far as I can tell – this visa is a long-stay residency permit offered to self-employed artists. Gossips on the Internet are somewhat coy about the length of time they usually approve, but rumors range from 9 months to two years, with the option to renew. Short of going back to school – which I’m not ready for – I think it’s the best option for a visa that will keep me in Europe for a couple of years.
Staying in Europe for a couple of years – that was a major decision I reached while I was traveling, readers. I want to spend more time outside the US – America is so culturally isolated from the international community, and I have so much more to learn about the world – but I’m weary of moving.
Relationships are fleeting by nature when you’re nomadic – we all try to stay in touch through facebook and whatsapp and skype, and we do our best – but it’s difficult to foster deep connections digitally. Strong, lasting friendships forged over the course of years in which there are ups and downs and crises and emergencies and seasons and routines – those friendships are of a different sort than the short, intense connections we form while traveling. Both are important. But I think the first can only grow if we find someplace to stick around for a while, long enough to lean on others for support and be leaned on ourselves. I’m missing that sense of community, and I’m ready to feel needed somewhere.
(Just not back in the US. Not yet!)
So stay tuned for future updates, readers! Here at home I’m settling into a routine of hard work on my Fiverr store (fiverr.com/flymarfly), where I’m drawing digital portraits by the dozen. I’m also working on a portfolio website (flymaryfly.com) to showcase the pieces I’m working on when I’m not busy with Fiverr.
In the meantime I’ll be filling in the gaps in my travel narrative to bring the blog up to date. Stay tuned for more travel stories!