Today is my sister’s 21st Birthday. It is the day that, officially, she stops being a girl and is a young woman on the brink of graduating University and going out into the world to make it a better place. But it is also a day that has got me thinking. Thinking about life and travelling. And, despite what many think, travelling isn’t always easy. It can be bloody hard, dear reader. For, life at home does not simply cease to go on with your removal. No. It continues on much as before. And a hard part of a life on the road is missing out on the events back home. This year alone, I will be missing yet more of my cousins birthdays (they are all young – two of them have never met me before and one of them doesn’t know who I am); I have missed my grandfather’s 80th birthday; my sister turning 21; and two family weddings. Next year, I miss my father turning 50. The year after that, my mother turning 50. And missing these events gets harder and harder every time.
I feel this aspect of travelling is less talked about. After all, who wants to hear about someone moping in self-pity, when they can hear about the time you rode elephants in Thailand or tried some amazing food in Vietnam. But, dear readers, this is a reality of life on the road. It can get away from you, and before you know it, you’ve missed out on large chunks of life from back home. Tolkien once wrote that “It’s a dangerous business…going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” I feel very much like I have been swept up in the raging river of travel. After leaving Korea, I am planning to head to Australia or New Zealand. But the flip-side of this rather beautiful coin hides a less attractive face. I haven’t been home in a year and a half. I have no plans to go back home in the next year and a half. I haven’t seen my parents since the day I left. Nor my sister. My extended family, I haven’t seen in even longer than that. They are constantly changing, their lives evolving and I feel less and less a part of that each day. On top of this, friends move in and out of your life with a rapid fluidity. This February, I am losing one of my best friends here in Korea, and several other close friends are also leaving. You start to be less of a person in the lives of others and more…a part of a story that they will one day tell. Yes, you might be an interesting part. But you are a story, none the less. To my young cousins, I am nothing but a story. A man in a myth. They’ve no memories of me. No face to put to the name. If anything, I am just a guy who appears on the computer every now and then.
Yes, dear readers, life on the road is glorious and wonderful. I see things and do things many people only dream of. I live a life blessed with interesting tales, opportunities and adventures. But to go on one adventure, you must give up others. And every now and then you realise – it is a high price to pay.