It’s been four full days since I’ve been back in Melbourne, my hometown, and my body is still having trouble adjusting to “real life”. Yesterday I rode 50km on my bike, and I was still full of beans by the evening, craving more intense physical activity. The day before that I rode my bike in the morning and took two martial arts classes in the afternoon, and by the time it was dark I still wanted to GET STUFF DONE. Today I’m planning to ride some single track just to see how much stronger my body has gotten, and there are plans for some more martial arts in the afternoon. Tomorrow is a day similar again in terms of amounts of energy expenditure and physical activity.
It’s been great to feel so fit and strong, but at times I also feel like I’ve got all this energy and I have no outlet to use it with. I could start running around the place like a maniac but I don’t know if that is the kind of person I want to be.
My friend said today that perhaps my body still thinks it’s in Hawaii – that it thinks it still needs to undergo strenuous physical exertion each day. I sat there listening to her, my body itching to bounce off the walls and do some interpretive dance, and that resonated deeply with me.
And it’s not only been my body that has had a difficult time adjusting. My mind has been spinning and doing mental cartwheels ever since the plane’s wheels hit the tarmac on home soil. I’ve been trying to fit back into “normal” life – trying to find the grooves and click in seamlessly like prefabricated floorboards do – but it just hasn’t been happening.
People ask me how the trip was, and it’s hard to even put that it into words. “Great,” I tell them, when what I actually want to say is, fucking incredible because I climbed up volcanoes and pushed myself beyond what I ever thought I could do and I met strangers and made great friends and didn’t get raped because people are actually really awesome but I did get attacked by feral dogs but I defended myself and spent so much time alone and learnt so much and got to know me and realised in the end that not only is the world the other people and the things in it awesome but that I need to give myself credit because I can be pretty awesome too. But that requires a little more time, possibly some seats, and some wine, and it is not always the time for that.
And so now I sit in my bedroom, trying to be curious about everything that was once familiar to me. My life is like the equivalent of an estranged lover who you once knew, but has now changed their hair, gotten a few more tattoos, and started speaking with a new affect. It looks, feels, and tastes different. And I feel like a tourist, or a stranger, reexamining the different aspects of this life with the innocence and curiosity of a person in a second hand thrift shop. Pick it up, examine it, put it back down.
A friend of a friend once said “everything’s on the table”. He said this in relation to relationships, but this phrase comes to my mind right now. What was once accepted, unquestioned, and normal is now up for review. And in a way I’m so lucky to be able to approach things that way. I’ve taken a lot of the life skills and the experiences that I’ve had on the road and I’ve brought them into my “normal” life. Tuning into my body, going at my own pace, going off the beaten track, staying fit and challenging physical limits – that all happens in the smallest of my moments in suburbia, on or off a bike. And all in all, as a result, I feel like I’m becoming someone I’m more proud to be, even though there are still some difficulties in readjusting to modern life. Oh and of course I’ve started planning my next three bike tours. It’s all a work in progress, after all.