On my flight home today, I sat next to an older man and woman. They started talking to each other in English and I learned the man was Danish and the woman was Syrian. Yet, they used English as their common language (beautiful right?). I joined in and we all started talking of Prague and how great of a city it is. The man, whose name I never found out, has lived all over the world and in his time has picked up four languages. He said he travels every week to teach aviation and pinches himself in the morning to see if he’s still dreaming. He loves his life. He bought me a glass of wine and we talked nonstop from Copenhagen to Prague, only to get off and take the public transportation together in the city. He told me tales of foreign cities, tinder parties and a life where home is himself, wherever in the world he is. As his stop came, he wished me the best of luck and kissed my cheek, waving goodbye and stepping off the metro.
This kindness, this genuinity, this personable human that I knew for two hours of my life, showed me such kindness and inspiration for how everyone chooses to live their lives differently. I genuinely teared up when he got off the metro.
Being abroad is really hard, you guys. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have incredible moments every single day that make me truly happy but to only have yourself to rely on with the closest loved ones 4,500 miles away, that’s hard.
We see instagram photos and hear stories of incredible interactions and they’re all true but that’s a fraction of my day. I spend four hours a day riding on public transportation and alone time barely exists because I’m teaching at random hours all day and night to barely make rent. My life is as mundane and simple as it is back in the states except I’m just doing it in Europe.
For so many reasons, my time is coming to an end in Prague. But this is always going to be one of the most important things I’ve ever done for myself. I have always wondered what it would be like to live abroad and I would have always wondered what if. I don’t have to do that anymore.
Every day out here is a challenge. I have pushed myself to live every single day uncomfortably just by leaving the apartment. Just by living in a non-english speaking country.
When that man asked me how long I was staying out here, I told him that I loved it out here and it’s been amazing but I’ve built a home and I miss it dearly.
His response? “Ahhhh”. And then he looked at me, like a grandpa would a child, and his face became warm and full of memories. I could tell what he was thinking. “You’re lucky”.
Or maybe it was the look on my face as I talked to him.
I never knew how long I was going to be over here but the decision to live as I want when I want is freeing.
And it all comes down to this.
In Prague, I have access to travel. I have so many cities close by and cheap ways to get there.
But at home? At home I have love, hugs, mac and cheese and family and friendships that are irreplaceable. I have Thursday trivia nights, riding bulls and far too many tequila shots.
I have a family.
And so comes the fork in the road.
In life, we make choices and we realize what matters most. What our desires are.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to travel. I told my mom I was moving to California when I was twelve. There was a time when travel was all I had.
Now that I’m older, in the prime of my travel days, I realized that the most important thing in my life is the relationships I’ve made. The ones with baristas at coffee shops or the ones who threw glitter at concerts with me, wore fake eyelashes and threw roses off of balconies, ate toppers at 3am and heard me cry over stains on shirts. I created these relationships. I’ve never had this much love in my life and because I know life without it I value it more than anything.
Being here made me realize something important.
I realized that living abroad would mean letting those friendships wither. Not die, not break off, but wither. Because 4,500 miles and a 7 hour time difference will make it so hard to get closer to those you love and eventually, they fade.
I wanted to love it out here so badly but I couldn’t let go of the love I had at home.
So what path do I follow?
If I wanted to stay in Prague, I had to be willing to let go of my bomb ass family back home.
And no matter what travel means to me, it killed me to think of letting that love go. No matter how many months they could “wait” for me or how many “we’ll keep in touch”es I heard, I know how time works.
And I don’t want to give that up.
So, I’m coming home.
It wasn’t the time frame I expected, nor did legalities help, but it’s the choice I ended up making.
Not because I failed or because this is too hard because the stubborn side of me wants to stay just to see how long I can. The weak part of me doesn’t want to be judged for going home.
But I’ve decided this all on my own. For me. And you know what?
It’s about me. What I value the older I become and choosing what means the most to me in this world- love.
And that man I met on the train was the closest thing to feeling in person love for 2 and a half months. I could keep building the friendships here but the truth is it wouldn’t be enough. It wouldn’t be Caryn, Rhiannon, Emily, April, Lacey, Katie, Dani, Sam, Morgan, Kaila, Bryce, Danika, Ken, Jordan and so much more kind of love. Weird ass friendship that would kill for you kind of love.
It wouldn’t be mom, dad, sisters, brother in laws and niece kind of love. Family that constantly shows up.
It won’t be anything like falling asleep next to the guy who makes my heart explode kind of love.
And I refuse to deny myself one more day of being surrounded by those exact people.
To the man on the metro, thank you for showing me kindness. Thank you for sharing your stories and reminding me why I travel. Thank you for becoming a story yourself.
Thank you for helping me come to terms with my biggest love of all- being surrounded by my crazy ass humans I call home.
Because even though I’m sad to see this chapter end, I feel more at peace to come home a completely knew version of myself. Three months may have passed by in your world, but in mine? Those months were years. I’ve grown so much.
And I’m finally coming home.
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