So this is the would-be wrap-up of my Southeast Asia travels, something that accurately sums up this epic adventure with sentimental wit and assures you that I’ve re-acclimated to American life in a (short-lived) Trump era with a stable job and health insurance back under my belt. But that’s not the outcome of the last few months, and looking back I suppose it was never meant to be the outcome.
I realized pretty quickly into this trip that “going back” to life as I knew it wasn’t an option; every person, place, and adventure that I encountered was rapidly changing how I viewed the world, myself, and how I wanted to live my life as a tiny speck on this magnificent planet. It wasn’t as simple as booking a return flight to JFK and resuming Sunday brunch in the East Village with all of my favorite people — though right about now I would KILL for Yuca Bar huevos rancheros, a bacon-infused bourbon bloody mary at The Wren, a bagel from literally ANYWHERE (jk Bagel Pub or Thompson Square Bagels, nowhere else), followed by a long evening at Royale on Avenue B.
As I recently wrote in a testimonial for Edumadic, I went into this experience with a best case scenario — connect with a few people and do as many things as possible so that I would have amazing memories to look back on. I kept my expectations in check because I tend to be a ‘glass half empty’ type of person, and so it was the most pleasant surprise when my best case scenario was shattered and I formed bonds with every single person. No matter the age difference we were all searching for something similar, something that united us as pioneers, as digital nomads, as worldly scholars, and as lifelong friends. Zach Clenaghan had it right all along — none of our personal details really mattered if we were all objectively in the same mindset, and I couldn’t have orchestrated a better group myself; we were all equally crazy enough to take on this unprecedented adventure together.
When I left JFK on a long 24+ hour journey to India, I was in tears as I read letters from my friends offering their encouragement and telling me how much I inspired and amazed them by taking off to follow a distant dream. I ended Edumadic leaving Bali also in tears, because I didn’t know when, if ever, I would be in the same place with all of these brilliant, talented, ambitious, and weirdly hilarious people again in this life. I’ve kept this quote I found from Anthony Bourdain in my mind since then:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
And I hope I have left something good behind in the hearts and minds of everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and traveling with.
The journey for me doesn’t end here; I took the return flight back to the states as planned, to meet up with friends in Los Angeles to spend a few days in the desert at the Coachella music festival. But instead of roadtripping back to the east coast, I took the next flight out to the Philippines to meet up with two people from Edumadic who also wanted to keep exploring. There are far too many islands, too many diving opportunities, and too many cultures to experience in this short life, and I’ll keep chasing them as long as I can! I appreciate all of your continued support and enthusiasm more than you’ll ever know, and if I inspire just one person to explore the world outside their comfort zone, I’ll consider this journey a success. xx