That’s right. Like a good bout with déjà vu, I am back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. I have actually just arrived at the Washington Dulles Airport and am trying to make some quick observations and judgments (yes, judgments) on the cross section of people before me. Now, granted, I am in an airport. It is probably more international than the average American main street. But now I sit waiting for my domestic connection to vacation hotspot, Newark, New Jersey and am surrounded by a majority of Americans.
So who do I see? The basic answer is a little of everything: fat people, fit people, sloppy people, well-dressed people, short, black, tall, white, on and on. Possibly a bit less stylish and civilized than those I left hours ago in France, but probably also a bit friendlier.
America really is the least homogonous place I’ve seen in a long time and hence we are back to the oft-used term of melting pot. America truly is one big fat creamy stew of all kinds and you just can’t put a label on it – many try to and many labels stick, but I am here to say – peel them off! As I traveled, I met a lot of folks who think they know who Americans are, but I think we are practically indefinable.
My traveling days are over… at least for now. Well, maybe just on a hiatus. Okay…. a ten day hiatus. I am soon going down to Virginia (dragging the same damn bag) to see my brother, sis-in-law, and cutie-pie nephew, Nick.
Then I will fly over to visit my mom in Colorado for some nice hugs and laughs. Then I will be back in New Jersey for my dad’s nuptials and then finally, in May, I return to my beloved Chicago where I suppose I will hang out for awhile and see what materializes. And believe it or not, I’m ready, so ready in fact that I counted down the days (good thing they were numbered – that made it easier).
‘What?’ you say. Yes. I’m tired, mentally tired. And it all goes in line with what I’d learned the first ‘go around.’ I need to do things – work, volunteer, anything that makes me feel local or keeps me in a place for a few months.
On this leg of the journey, I traveled because I had a free ticket so I figured why not? But then I traveled more like a tourist which taught me again that that’s not what I want to be. Don’t get me wrong, I had great times and met more and more interesting and fun people, saw beautiful places from France to Egypt and Estonia to Israel, but I suppose for now I need to hang up my walking shoes.
I have been traveling on and off now for 2 ½ years or 29 months or 124 weeks or roughly 875 days. Sometimes I travel fast… jetting on cheap budget European airlines to my next city and sometimes I travel slow – getting an apartment and a temporary job and not touching my bag for several months. But, I think, as marathon runners often say, ‘I am finally hitting the wall.’ And scary and limiting as it may be, perhaps it is time to ‘plant some roots’ again and see how it all feels – I’ll probably feel like a caged monkey and possibly it won’t be long until I’m off and running again.