The train pulls away and once again I'm on a moving vehicle out of the place that grew me. It feels every bit as strange as the last however-many-times. Out of the head and back to the senses where I see intricate architecture above, grime on concrete pavements below. Our carriage bumbles over the Tyne River as I look back one last time.
I've been on the road for a good 16 months now, living out of my backpack and staying with different welcoming hosts, from family to strangers to friends. The last three months have been spent at home, home being the UK and more specifically Newcastle.
Living on the other side of the world to everything that you know is definitely character building and full of exciting challenges. Coming home also brings its own lessons. Once the unfamiliar of abroad becomes familiar normal life then the familiar of home transforms into unfamiliar in many ways. Returning can be just as enchanting as an exotic unknown destination.
I found this out in the most unexpected way this summer by falling in love, which was so not part of the plan I'd made in my head. My beautiful, wonderful childhood friend and I somehow ended up in a whirlwind adventure as we connected in a new and different way to before.
This made leaving to start my nine month contract as a language assistant in Réunion Island (just east of Madagascar) a whole different scale of goodbye. As a traveller with wandering feet, I'm used to building strong bonds followed by goodbyes. I enjoy staying in touch with everyone whose path crosses mine but sometimes life feels like a perpetual string of goodbyes. This particular one was heart achingly difficult. It was like knowingly ripping myself away from a source of overwhelming happiness.
Yet all the while, I knew it had to be done. There is something so nourishing about feeling the full force of any emotion, be it joy or sorrow, and knowing deep deep down that you're doing exactly what you have to do. That you're following your heart even if it means leaving pieces behind and risking the comfort of what you have now being changed forever by time.
There's much to be learnt from stillness but right now, these itchy feet can't rest and are yearning to cover some distance, to run, skip and dance into unknown places. This voice longs to wrap itself around other languages, twisting into new shapes to try out different sounds. There's so much of the world I haven't seen, so much of myself I haven't truly got to know.
Home will always be there, in one way or another. After this trip back over summer, I know in a way I never really knew before, that no matter how far I go, I will always stay connected and grounded to home. I can't wait for whatever unfolds over the next year living abroad, but equally, I can't wait for that moment when I arrive back home and swap stories with the people whose sides I never really left.