Today should be a day to celebrate as 18 months ago we said goodbye to our friends and family back in the UK and set off to travel many parts of the world that the two of us had been dreaming of since, well, forever; but rather than looking back at the amazing things we’ve seen and done, I’ve instead spent the day thinking about something I told myself I’d never think or (in some cases) even care about.
You see, I never thought I’d think about this, never thought I’d be writing about it either, but I’ve come to realise so much over the course of the past few months since we suddenly had to return back to Italy earlier in the year.
I’ve come to realise that I really, miss people.
I mean, really miss them.
Why I Never Did Before
I remember always reading the posts of other travel bloggers before we left about how after a year or so they’d started to get a little bit down on having been away from home for so long. Sometimes there were even posts of people only two or three months into their gap year and they were considering just jacking everything in to go home and I could never understand it.
“Why would you want to go home?“, I remember thinking to myself. Such an opportunity to see the world and have the adventure of a lifetime and people wanted to just stop?
From my point of view I was desperate to get away. I’d spent such a long time in a state of deep depression that being anywhere else doing something I really liked with the person I love sounded like the ultimate fantasy come true and thinking about what I would be leaving behind was far, far back at the furthest point of my mind, in fact, when asked “so when are you coming back?“, I would always answer;
“Back? No way. I’m hoping to find a place I love so much that I’ll just stop there”
So What Changed?
Unfortunately this year we’ve had to say final farewells to a few people this year and that’s been really tough. On the other hand, we’ve had a few experiences with new family members, friends with newborn children and many with children on the way that have made us think a lot about the fact that whilst we’re away, life very much continues as it always has whilst we’re gone.
Time doesn’t stand still, and knowing that we won’t be around for the first moments of so many new chapters of so many new lives is beginning to take it’s toll.
#1 – I Miss My Friends…
Talking over Skype or clicking ‘Like‘ on someones status on Facebook is no replacement for chatting and laughing with your friends and anyone who says otherwise is lying. Sure, you can have fun with your friends at a distance and having the internet to do that is one of the greatest parts about modern day travelling, but there’s no real replacement for that instant facial recognition of someone smiling, laughing or crying in person.
I miss sitting around with my friends the way we have done for years using the same old jokes and the same old puns to get a giggle. I miss meeting up and playing board games. I miss sharing food with them. I miss that closeness.
Sometimes I think of all the things that I’ve missed over the past 18 months and it bothers me.
Also, during the few months I’ve spent in Franca’s hometown over the years I’ve come to see a level of closeness between her group of friends that I feel I never had because I never made myself as available as I should have done back home. I feel now that I need to make up for lost time and that’s exactly why I miss them all so badly. I want to be the friend I could have been.
note – I don’t have enough photos of my friends with me. If you’re not here I still love you.
#2 – I Miss My Family…
Speaking of never being around, I do miss my family too.
Again, because of the closeness I’ve seen and received from Franca’s family over the past two years, I’ve come to realise that I’ve a lot of making up to do with my own family (other than our family of pets back in Italy).
My family and I have been pretty distant since I moved out of home just over ten years ago and I’ve pretty much lost that connection that I once had, and whilst before I didn’t really care too much – as I became totally independent – as my own urges to have my own family and the close ties I see Franca with hers, I see that I’ve got a lot of catching up to do and I can’t do that all the way from Germany.
I’m also beginning to miss certain things too.
#3 – I Miss Having A House…
As one housesitting assignment ends and we now start another, I sometimes see myself walking through the house and having really strange thoughts, such as;
“This isn’t my draw of junk, I want my own drawer of junk”
Having lived away from home for more than ten years I’ve lived in many places with many people and whilst sharing a house has been fantastic, having somewhere that belongs to just myself and Franca (including when we had nothing left!) is something that’s really hard to top.
Now I’ll be the first one to admit that I was the world’s worst housemate. I was dirty, smelly and just plain lazy; but after living with Franca and having seen so many differing ways that people keep their home whilst travelling and Couchsurfing these past 18 months; I’ve started to become quite houseproud of the house I no longer have. Weird, I know.
Thinking of the day when we can create a little place of our own to host people on Couchsurfing really puts some excitement into my day. But that’s not all I miss…
#4 – I Miss Football…
Okay, it’s probably a ridiculous thing to miss from back home, but one person’s heaven is another persons hell.
Football culture is so very much at the heart of the UK and within my group of friends, and whilst I was relatively late to the party in falling in love with the sport, meeting with my friends to watch the game in a pub, going to the ground to sing with 40,000 other people and watching midweek games with Franca was – and is – something I love to do.
Whenever I’ve had the chance to watch football either via streaming online or on TV, it’s never really made up for how much I loved to see a game, and in fact, whenever I watch a game now it never really has that same edge that it had before and I wonder if that’s to do with how often I’m managing to catch-up.
So, Time To Head Home?
Nah, not yet at least.
Now I know it might sound like the thoughts of a man who’s on the verge of throwing in the towel and quitting travel all together, but the truth is, I really love travelling, and whilst I do miss laughing over absolute nonsense with my friends, hearing stories from my grandparents and having a place of our own, there really is no substitute for the lifestyle we’ve carved out for ourselves.
Sure I want a family – we both do – but perhaps we’ve another year left in us before we really have to call it quits, but with that we’re still very much on the fence.
note – oh yeah, almost forgot number five … … I miss Marmite!