A Post-Travel Reflection

My husband Adam and I spent a month making our way around Italy, Ireland and Japan, returning home last week to face reality, and an incredible hit of jet lag. Photos and words describing our trip are here (sans the last week, when busyness overtook typing).

I cannot tell you how this trip opened me back up to myself again. I was changed by a great multitude of tiny experiences that lent themselves to a slow, subtle opening up of my mind and heart – only fully realized when reflecting on it all.

Three things: The first, that I love traveling more than anything in the world besides the relationships in my life. As I previously shared with you, my last big trip had me return home only a few weeks before my mom was unexpectedly taken from us. I had traveled India, a place that left me so enriched it was almost overwhelming to deal with. And, due to the immediate experience of mom’s death, I didn’t deal with it. I barely showed anyone my photos. I lost the emotional capacity to reflect on or absorb the powerful experiences I’d had. It was all stuck inside of me and melded into the mix of grief emotions that I faced. This stuff has been scrambling around in my brain and body for almost four years.

The second, is that I had planned on returning home from India only to turn around and head to London, where I would be living. My belongings had previously been shipped across the ocean and were waiting for my arrival. However, I decided after mom died that I wanted to stay nearer to my family for a time. Stuff was shipped back. I stayed.

I didn’t realize how much of a hold these two things placed on my life. It wasn’t that I was hung up on moving overseas or that I was dying to put together a slide show of India, but it came down to an overarching sense that life as I truly desired it was over. That the things I’d previously experienced were in another life – the before – and that they weren’t accessible anymore.

A huge amount of reconciliation happened for me this last month. I stepped foot on new soil. I gained new experiences. I turned the page. I saw my passion still alive. I put the details of India to rest in a healthy way and refilled my mind with fresh scenery. I landed in London and it was still there.

The world is still here. Life is still here.

The third, is that my husband and I had to face each other for the first time in a long time on many levels; without wedding plans, without moving and job-hunting, without house-building, without a specific home at all… This was beautiful madness; just two humans trying to get around and make decisions and survive the day, and each other. It was intense – an intensity that shaped us and pushed us.

There were many times on our trip that I was tempted by or dragged back to “the dark side”; the shadowy place that tells you not to trust life or joy or adventure. Sometimes I went there. But to intimately experience the vitality of the world again dripped something into my blood which made the light want to fight harder. And the light will win. Image




5 thoughts on “A Post-Travel Reflection

  1. Beautifully said, thanks for sharing. Among other things, I totally relate to you saying that travel ‘opened me back up to myself again’.

  2. Past is prologue. How wonderful that you simultaneously returned and moved forward; life as you know it might be different now, but you can still travel and explore and see distant lands. Your mother would be happy.

  3. Oh Jennelle. I cannot tell you how anxiously I have been waiting for the email telling me you have posted of your return and how excited (semi jealous… lol) I am to hear about your trip. I am so proud of you for finally being ready to travel again and as another travel enthusiast, I completely understand how much a part of your life it is.

    I know this trip was difficult to set off on because of the memories associated with your return from India. That would undeniably be a trigger of memories for you, but I am so proud of you for going. I am proud of you for realizing that the world is still out there and your mom would still want you to be doing what you love. And I’m sure your husband is thrilled too. Grief has the ability to drag the people we love down with us so I hope this was refreshing for both of you. I am going to look at your pictures now… let the jealously commence.

    Welcome home!

  4. Great post. I am so glad this trip brought so much good for you. You wrote: “my husband and I had to face each other for the first time in a long time on many levels…”. This really hit me and is something I think my husband and I need to do. When we got married, I had a 3 year old son who required a lot of my time. There was a lot going on with me personally and I was still healing from a very abusive previous marriage. Then our daughter was born. A year and a half later, my mom was diagnosed with cancer. When we lost her, I went into my own little world and didn’t come out for a long time. We have been married for 10 years, and there has always been something going on. We now work different shifts and rarely get any alone time. What you wrote really hit home for me in many ways. Thanks for sharing.

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