Slow travel had turned into a standstill, at a point in time which I cannot determine, no matter how carefully I examine the past three years. Three years. I can’t believe how long I’ve been gone, how long I stayed.
When a family emergency called me home, I had just days to decide between a one way and a round trip. I was so sure I was happy with the life I had created. I had a beautiful apartment, a job that was challenging and alternative and inspiring, I had friends, and I lived with a person that I loved more than any friend I’ve had or am likely to have again.
I panicked and booked a round trip flight, trying to squeeze this life event into my already carefully laid out plan for the next year. I’ll be back, I told my best friend with certainty, when I delivered the news while we sat on my bed with the sun pouring in through the terrace door. I’ll be back in a month, when things have settled.
But over the next few days, an uneasy feeling settled over me. Everything I did started feeling like the last time, and the places I went felt like goodbyes. I had to ask myself, what would I come back for? As soon as the thought was fully formed in my mind, I realized that I had overstayed my time in Italy. All of the other adventures and the plans I had made and forgotten came flooding back, and I realized that I was still here in the same place because I didn’t know where else to go. I had started to settle into a rhythm, perhaps the very reason I had left Canada in the first place. This realization hurt, and felt heavy in my chest. I wanted to resist it, I wanted to reason myself out of it so I could stay where I was comfortable, but I couldn’t shake this revelation.
I went into my friend’s room that night, tears streaming down my cheeks as I flopped on the bed beside him. What’s wrong mate? Everything will be alright, he said through the darkness, reaching out a hand to pat my shoulder. It’s just for a little while.
I don’t think I can come back, I choked out, the words taking form for the first time, weighing heavily on my heart.
Nobody knows how to say goodbye. As much as I panicked in those last days, thinking, it’s not enough time, maybe it was enough. Maybe walking away from a three year lifetime within just one week was the only way. I had to go. I had to shake the dust, and open myself to my next adventure. My comfort zone had followed me across the ocean, reestablishing itself around me in one form or another. And it was safe, and good, and okay, but I’m not ready to be safe or good or okay just yet. I have more to see and more to do.
I left Italy a little bit before I was ready. But I would rather leave a little too soon than a lot too late, after having used it up for all it’s worth, eventually coming to resent it, and grow tired of it.
I don’t know what to do next. I’m close to my family for the first time in a long time as we heal, and that’s somehow a relief. I am living in a tent in a backyard, until the weather turns cold. And that’s as much as I know. Awaiting the next adventure to find me, with arms wide open.