California dreaming. Flashes of foreign places. Unfamiliar faces. Wide open spaces. I awake with a start, but it takes a few moments for my heavy eyes to catch up. They open slowly, surveying the darkness. Where am I?
I am not scared, just confused. I am used to the feeling of unfamiliarity. Each night for the past three weeks I have woken in the night disorientated. Last night was no different. Except it was this time. This time I wasn’t somewhere new. This time I didn’t get a flutter of recognition; the feeling which comes with the unknown. The joy of travel.
This time I was home. I instantly felt disappointed. I instantly felt sad for what has passed. I was no longer on an adventure. Each night a new destination awaited us. Each night I slept in a new surrounding, on different sheets. My head rested on pillows not shaped to my peculiarities. The tingling of joy, I associate purely with holidays, was gone.
It seemed like years ago, not days, that we were exchanging pleasantries with Mickey Mouse, walking the star stamped streets of Hollywood, swimming in a pool perched on the edge of a cliff at Pismo Beach, sharing the hotel lobby with Miss California contestants in Santa Barbara, buying Coach bags in Carmel, facing sharks head on at the Monterey Aquarium, hanging off a cable car in San Francisco, sipping wine at Frank Coppola’s vineyard in Napa, eating S’mores in Lake Tahoe by a fire pit, playing in snow at Yosemite, marvelling over craters in Death Valley, getting lost in a maze of Las Vegas’s underground casinos, eating burritos in Palm Beach, buying roller skates in LA and watching skateboarders in a midst of dope smoke at Venice Beach. Every day was exciting.
Today I washed my sixth load of washing, since returning to drizzly Adelaide. The kids went back to school, in tears. I answered emails, went food shopping, aired the house of emptiness and we filled it with our family. I yearned for what has already been. I’m still talking in terms of “this time last week”.
Here’s a taste of what we left behind in California.
I’ll be writing about it more here and also on the Escape Travel website (part of our holiday was paid for by them, the rest by us.) I can’t thank them enough.
While I flick through the photos, now just snapshots of memories, I try and hold onto that feeling that overwhelms me. That feeling of strength my family provides me – that we provide each other. We went on this adventure together and now we are stronger for it.
Now we need another journey to look forward to – the buzz is in our blood. Our hearts pump it around our forever altered bodies. We’ve changed. We’re more alive than ever before. Travel does that to people.