Travelling isn’t all sunshine and rainbows – part 2

I went travelling with this fella called robins. He smiles a fair bit which I like and he makes silly faces even more which I like even more. We’re not together or anything, but sometimes it seems that way – he’s got a girlfriend actually, but sometimes I feel like he’s my girlfriend. We dont bicker very often, but sometimes there’s awkward tensions and things which bubble beneath the surface and cause all kinds of frustration if left unattended. This happened while we were travelling through China, but I reckon we got to the bottom of it in the Phillipines.

It’s odd, travelling alongside Robins had always seemed like the best and only way to experience a 5 month globetrotting adventure… Not only had we shared the delights of building this vision together over the years, we are inseparable, brothers, joined at the hip for school, uni, travel (and eternity, it seems). Recently though, we’ve been plagued by an unwelcome tension between us. Through this 1st month we’ve been away, somethings been here that needn’t be.

Maybe its the incessant compromise that asks itself of us at every, single decision and encounter? Or the dependence trap I seem to fall into when I share a journey with another? Or that I’m on a desperately tight travel budget and James has money to burn? Could be any or all of them.. But for me, none have been able to sharpen the edges on this restraining feeling as much as an observation made this evening when a rare moment presented itself after dinner.

James and I sat round the bar of Sheebang hostel in Puerta Princessa with a hungarian, an australian, a brit and a german. We talked about the classic travel stuff; food, culture, longings and happenings. The conversation flowed fine, just as well as it had been in previous ‘travellers at the bar’ iterations through the trip. It flowed fine. But through it all, I began to notice something my mind was doing, every time, before expressing a thought. Wandering, ever so discreetly, over to James…

Why? I’d no idea.. But then the moment came when James would go to have his daily phone call with Monica (his gf) and thereafter to shower off his dirt of the day. I can’t say I was anticipating his departure as he left the table. Only that I was just then alone, with the Hungarian and the german, and I was suddenly determined to know them both. As I lent in closer and tried to push a discussion, I felt sharp suddenly, attentive, true to form, like I was engaging my brain after months of docility. I had questions I finally felt interested in the answers for, ideas I finally felt content to express. With little hesitation, I tapped into my phone and recorded part of our conversation, thinking freely of the value this particularly enterprisal, hungarian chap could offer a curious audience in overseas start-ups. Ahhh fuck. This was it. This was what travellers raved about, connection, freedom and traction. My mind wasn’t wandering anymore… noting James presence…

– But why was his presence such a burden to me?

The answer came so clearly then as I imagined him sitting here at the table again.

What will he think about what Im saying?

What will he think about what Im saying?

What will he think about what Im saying?

Whenever I’ve been with him in the presence of strangers I’ve been afraid he’s judging my words, my integrity. I’ve spent so many hours, days, weeks and months with him over the last 12 years, he knows me almost as well as my mother does. He knows whether what I’m expressing is true to form, and a tension spreads beneath the skin. A piece of home that’s always with me pulling me back to where I wanna leave.

Imagine it like this. Every new individual I meet and converse with hears me in the same way. Yes, they will each interpret differently; they can be skeptical, curious, bored or simply indifferent but they’re all viewing from the same stand. James seems to soar above the rest, on a tower of books filled with stories and ideas about the inner workings of my life.

Perhaps I’m just scared they’ll collapse on top of me.

Fear, fear, all the same fear… Baggage on my back, baggage on my mind, and stories like these to weave it all together. The words can be intoxicating, seems to be essential mental nutrition, so I keep feeding on it, but finally, I get to the bones of what I’m eating, and discover that there aren’t any. It’s all just bullshit that needs attending to. If you’ll take anything from this post, whiff deep like I just did and flush what you can right down the loo.. You’ll feel all the better for it.

If you enjoyed this post, consider following our blog! – there’s lots more coming in our 5 month globetrotting adventure.

China-Phillipines-Australia-New Zealand-Thailand

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