I am really excited to introduce this travelling creature to the blog. Sloan and I were introduced by a mutual friend while she was travelling around Thailand – even though I wasn’t in the same country. Mutual friend just knew we would get along and he was right! It’s amazing the connections you make by simply living in the moment and being open to new friendships and opportunities.
Thank you for taking time out of your schedule to share a part of your journey here on Finding My Creature. I look forward to the day out paths cross! No doubt it will be somewhere off the beaten track.
I’m glad I remembered to set my alarm. The bus to Laos leaves at 7am and I’ve just hardly gone to bed. My t-shirt smells like cheap vodka and the tropic rainstorm we danced in last night. Chalk paints my hands from the countless games of pool we played. My alarm cuts through the dorm room again as I stuff my life into a 55-liter bag and other travelers roll over groaning and cursing me. I sleepily brush the fuzz off my teeth and pray that I have an instant coffee packet left to stave off the inevitable headache.
Stumbling downstairs the Dutch boy I met is still awake, sipping a warm Honoi Beer and playing pool. My lips are still swollen, his still in a little smile, as we make knowing eye contact. It’s already 86 degrees and my curls have sprung into true SE Asian fashion of a large, frizzy fro that I have learned to not bother taming and have grown to love.
Unmanageable. Just like my life.
The idea of having to look ‘put together,’ the idea of wearing something other that a tank top and a flip flops is overwhelming. The idea of America and impressing anyone is far away and undesired. Laos is next: Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand are behind me. I’m no longer somewhere; I’m everywhere and nowhere—I’m now, here.
I don’t have a cell phone that rings with text messages, I go days without checking my email or Facebook. My blog is ignored and has been almost completely replaced by a tattered notebook that I bought for the equivalent of 10 cents on the street. I write when I’m sitting and people watching. While sipping a beer out of a 40 oz bottle, or coffee that drips from a silver canister, I chose my beverage based on my mood not the clock. My watch has broken. I answer to my hunger pangs. I respond to my heavy eyelids. I’m free. I have myself, and a backpack. My only ‘need’ is to be in Bangkok for my flight in May.
It’s now September. Bundled in a sweatshirt I sip coffee from an automatic coffee maker, the air is so dry my lips are cracked, my hair is tame, I have to get dressed soon to go to work. I sleep in the same bed every night. I dream of meeting attractive Dutchmen but instead I serve rum and Cokes to Frat boy tourists and depressed bar flies. I want to throw my I-phone out the window, Facebook blares at me and I, unfortunately, always find myself answering back. I talk to my parents daily and drama from my job bleeds into my home life.
While I was traveling in SE Asia I craved regularity. I wanted to nest. I actually used that word, nest. I wanted a home, I wanted a bedroom, I wanted to decorate and make a life for myself. Now—back in America I want to spread my wings again. I miss being nowhere. I miss my backpack, my tank tops, flip flops and losing track of time.
You have to roll with the punches and, pardon the cliché, go with the flow. You have to say YES when that cute Brit offers interesting conversation and wants to show you the most amazing beach on the Island at sunset. You jump on the back of his motorbike and sip the whiskey when he passes it back. Or you have to say NO when a Thai-ger wants buy you beer and dance a little too close…you use your judgment, your instinct and you LIVE.
Being somewhere else is a rush. It’s scary but invigorating. It’s something I crave when I have too much normalcy, too much drama, too much unnecessary [un]certainty in my life. The idea of being here today and tomorrow is overwhelming and boring.
A pint of beer seems too small. A shot of espresso too elaborate. Eating at a table in a restaurant with a knife and fork feels mundane and average compared to sitting on the street with the ‘chef’ that speaks no English but smiles and nods as she hands you chopsticks, a spoon and shows you which herbs to add to your soup. American boys in America are less interesting. Shopping looses it’s purpose when there is no story to how you got that piece of jewelry—I didn’t spend the day hiking with the daughter of the craftsman so it doesn’t seem as beautiful or worth as much. I don’t need it.
Travel stretches you thin. Wears you weak and dizzy. It’s lonely, it’s hard, it takes effort. I cried—a lot. I wanted to come ‘home’ many days. But then I laughed as the sun melted into a pool of pink sherbert. I played Marco Polo as the sun crested the mountains and got kicked out of the pool by a security guard at sunrise. I learned how to react. I believed in myself as I successfully got from point A to point B—it may have taken some trial and error and long ass bus trips, but I grew.
Growth is what we crave and strive for every day no matter where you are. Travel is being present and ready for whatever is going to be tossed, pitched or thrown your way. Meeting and trusting the road, trusting that the path you take may not be the easiest but it’s what’s going to show you an amazing waterfall or bring you to a town that seems to have never moved into the 21st century. Trust in yourself comes from the growth of being now and here.
Sloan is currently living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. She’s swimming, running, riding and yoga-ing through life. Sloan’s about to start a new job that will get people outside, exploring and playing in the woods. She is seeking more international opportunities, is in a constant state of learning new skills and loving life. She throws words and thoughts down on her blog www.thesolesearch.com and would love for you to check it out!