When you leave home you don't look back, you go onwards and you go, you go fast. If you're like many others before you, you don't glance over your shoulder once you walk through the departure gates. You've already lived this point of leaving in your head too many times to recount; now you're doing it, you take a deep breath and you just go, you skip.
You leave what you've known the moment you pass through those gates of change and suddenly you have a new purpose. The feeling of excitement tinged with a bright fear you haven't experienced before carries you through the motions of leaving your home, your country, your roots, your career, your pets, your dearest friends, your beloved family, your everything ... you jump headfirst into the unknown.
You immediately realise it isn't just a different way of life you end up being a part of, it's a different existence in a different universe, as a different you. And you like it, you don't just like it! It's a new found love, you travel with a feeling of pride about the fact that you've upped sticks and followed your feet one>foot>after>the>other to board that plane and make the days/ weeks/ months you've spent talking about and organising your trip into reality. The time is now and you're doing it, it's live!
Things happen to you every day that would never have happened before you left home, you get into scrapes and "survive" and it becomes a "I can't believe I got away with that one" story that you re-tell amongst your friends on the road.
You do things that scare you at first but then they make you understand the word "euphoria" .. any worries become secondary to wanting to do them again, wanting something more extreme.
You fall in love with places within moments and people at first sight, you find romance and friendships that you can't imagine living without.
You become more aware of every day being as important as the one before and yet you yearn for the next day to be even better without believing it is possible, then it is again and again ... "I can't believe this is real life".
You get ill or something "bad" happens and you remind yourself "I'd rather be here in this situation than back home safe and well". It's moments like these that it dawns on you how much living the life of the traveler has gripped you.
Are you a "nomad"? You're not sure about labelling yourself but you know you're like so many people you spend your days with, you want to "travel for as long as possible", as do they, you "just love it".
You visit places you can't recall clearly now, you remember them by how they made you feel for a poignant moment captured with laughter or perhaps a sorrow that you'd rather forget. You just know you've been there and these places will always shine a glimpse of light or perhaps cast a shadow across your heart. These are moments that define your trip.
You've been away for the the "best month of your life", or maybe "6 months before starting a job in London" or maybe "well over a year, it's my second Christmas away from home now". Wherever you are when you know your trip clock is starting to tick too fast you start to feel differently.
You've got a flight home on the horizon and its somehow an unfamiliar landscape that offers mixed feelings, you firstly begin to note with dread that you'll be on that plane back to your previous life soon.
The dread turns into acceptance which in turn becomes appreciation for where you are now, who you have your remaining days with and what you can fit in to your "bucket list" before you make your way "back".
As days tick by you count what time you have left on your trip and in turn what time you have left until you see your loved ones again. Priorities become time itself, in the first 3/4 of your trip you didn't have any concept of time, you didn't even know what day it was. To know the time was only told by the light of the sun or moon.
"Time or tide wait for no man" is something my uncle has always said to me and the thought behind the words is something that us travelers get grabbed by as we know our trip is coming to a close.
Do you go home, return to your old ways and see your travels as the commonly considered "once in a lifetime opportunity" or do you plan to stay home "for a bit, for a while" and save your chips with plans already in place to go away again before you've even set foot back on home turf?
The truth is you don't know, no one ever knows. Family consistently ask "when are you coming home?" while friends guess "you won't be back for long will you?". The thing about traveling is you, you make the choices, you do what you want, you do it for you and you see what happens.
I'm "you" at the moment; me leaving Australia is just over 10 weeks away and it got me thinking, then it got my writing this post as I sat watching yet another surreal sunset in my favourite park in Sydney ... what will happen next?
I've got plans, many plans, plans I've made with people I'm bursting to see but I can't predict if any of what will happen. It could all change tomorrow.
The thing about traveling is we love it and we hope it only ends when we're ready for it to, until then we keep jumping headfirst.