Sunday, 23 December 2012

When It Ends

So, I’m working on a new theory.

To be fair, I actually stole the theory from Newton and just applied it to things that don’t involve math because, let's face it: math's the worst. But I think I'm onto something.

You’ve all heard of Newton’s Principle of Inertia, right? You know, "the resistance of any physical object to a change in its state of motion or rest, or the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion." 

Or for my fellow Communications majors out there, the catchier (and easier to understand): “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, objects at rest tend to stay at rest."

Well I say this theory applies to more than just physics. I think it applies to emotions and lifestyles as well. 

I call it “Emotional Inertia.”

Take us for example (because everything, even the laws of physics, comes back to me):  before we left for our year-long trip, we were “at rest” in Switzerland. We had a good life, a comfortable life, and it was really hard to leave it. We were at rest, and despite our excitement about traveling the world, there was a part of us that tended towards remaining at rest.

It took us a little extra force to get going -an emotional shove out the door, if you will- but once we got “in motion,” we were set. Like a marble on a slanted surface, we started out slowly, but built momentum as we went. As the trip wore on, we were rolling faster and faster: the more we traveled, the more we wanted to travel. The more we talked about a nomadic life, the more we talked about living abroad, about living in a van, etc. etc. etc.

Then, towards the end of the trip, as we were rolling the fastest, we saw something up ahead: The Wall. Our return flight. Our stopping point. There was no removing it, no pushing it back (believe me, we tried; we even called the airline to extend our trip but our ticket had a fixed return date.) The closer we approached that wall, the more we dreaded it. We didn’t want to stop rolling, to stop traveling. We were happy “in motion,” and never wanted it to end.

Then we ran into the wall. 

We stopped. We had to. The stopping point was exactly as you would expect: a slamming halt. A violent, emotional crash.

At first, the crash was slightly softened: we were welcomed at the Marseille airport by Vincent’s entire family, yelling and laughing and crying, holding up signs and drawing curious stares from passersby. That night, the blow was softened further by a wonderful meal with the family, during which we ate all of the products we had missed during the past year and told stories about our trip late into the night. Imagine our marble slamming into the wall and bouncing backwards from the force of impact. That evening was the slow roll back down to the wall.

The next morning though, the wall was still there, and we were stopped at the base of it. We woke up in Vincent’s childhood bedroom and looked around at all of our belongings that we hadn’t seen in a year: my books piled high on the shelves, our clothes hanging in the closet, our wedding rings in a box on the desk. Then we looked at our backpacks, still unpacked on the floor, slumped against a wall in the corner.

And then I started crying. Deep, shuddering sobs of mourning and loss, my head buried against Vincent’s chest as he rested his chin on the back of my head, struggling with his emotions in silence.

We were both overwhelmed: how do we reconcile all of these things, these objects of our past, with the dirty, crumpled backpacks on the floor? More importantly, how to we reconcile the two worlds they represent?

But, as all emotions do, the fear passed. After a day or so of bewilderment and anxiety, we finally worked up the courage to start unpacking our backpacks, organizing our belongings, getting ready to start over. We both put on a pair of jeans for the first time in a year. I wore leather boots, and a real bra, marveling at the unfamiliar reflection in the mirror. Slowly, we were getting back to normal.

That was a week ago. Today, we are more or less “at rest.” We are starting to think about what we are going to do next, starting to think about the future. We are easing ourselves into it all by planning to travel around a lot in the next few weeks to visit friends and family, but we are beginning to accept that that too has to end. We have to stay at rest for a while.

And, as Newton predicted, now that we are at rest, we are ok being at rest. We still want to get back into motion again in the future: we are already talking about doing another big trip in a few years. But first we need to settle down for a while, at least long enough to save up for the next adventure. And now, for the first time since we left for the trip, settling down doesn’t sound so bad. To our surprise, there’s a small part of us that looks forward to being in one place for a little while. It looks forward to having a home again, to resume building our lives together. We are at rest and we will stay at rest.

Until the next trip.

1 comment:

  1. Elissa, Vincent - thanks for nice time together on our way and for great blog! We hope You are getting better now, and You enjoy Your "new/old" life. We came back just 2 weeks ago and to be honest, we have the same - it's difficult to go back to reality.. But what we can do.. :) maybe start thingking about next trip! :) We wish You all the best in 2013, and may all Your Wishes Come True!!
    Aga & Andrew (from Poland)