If Kotor was my rollercoaster, Skopje is my carousel. That one’s for you, Jake. The Balkans is one hell of a themepark and I would love to stay here forever and never have to say goodbye. I don’t feel done with this part of the world, I want to keep exploring it, living it, but I know this has to end at some point, even if this particular themepark never closes. I leave on Saturday, but I’m glad that farewell doesn’t have to be forever. I can always return, and I absolutely intend to.
It’s been six months since this ship set sail, since I left Australian soil in search of myself, and I think what I have found is that I’m the best me I can be only when I’m hunting. That’s not to say I haven’t been crushed along the way – I don’t think anyone has seen me cry as much as Kaitlin – but in order to truly feel the great heights one must embrace the pits that sometimes form inside. Use them for comparison so when you’re looking down inside you feel dizzy and nauseous. If you’re barely holding on to your insides, you know you’re doing it right.
The number of times I’ve been called crazy for not fitting the “travel mould” really is insane, and kind of amusing when you think of what I’ve been through. Some people don’t get that there is no prescribed way to do this. I travel to unravel, not to check things off of some kind of bucket list, although there is nothing wrong with having one. Someone once referred to what was happening to me as emerging from my cocoon, and he was right: it has to be slow and in your own time. I don’t think I would have come this far if all I was doing was jumping puddles instead of exploring oceans.
I will enjoy these days while they last, and when the dust settles after I leave the Balkans and return to Germany, I will evaluate my position and what I want to achieve in the next three months while I am still in Europe. Where to go, who to see, how to spend my time… there are no wrong answers, only worlds of wanting amidst all of the emotional upheaval. I crave the potential to expand beyond what I have been because this is what the traveller’s heart is born for.
Let the leaves change, the snow fall, and the sun emerge when it’s ready to melt my heart once more. This is only one awakening, but it has been my favourite one.