Postpartum Depression (How It Feels to Be Home After Traveling)

As the ever so quotable Momma Chu reminded me a few weeks ago, I had been away for nearly nine months, and in nine months I could’ve given birth to a child.  She hoped in these last nine months I had birthed some new ideas about the world.  Momma Chu is quite poetic when she’s sleep deprived and being driven crazy by the other members of my family.

I will admit it.  It’s incredibly weird to be home and I’m not sure that I like it.  For the past 261 days I’ve spent my time with no schedule, no agenda and basically no responsibilities.  I could come and go as I pleased (within the confines of my visa) and essentially had not a care in the world.  I could awake each day and view the world with a childlike perspective knowing I would spend every minute absorbing new things, sights, people, food, culture, language etc, etc.  Everything was exactly as I dreamed it would be – and better.  And if I didn’t like the people I was with or the place I was in, I could just feign that the hostel was a bit expensive for my budget, pack up my shit and peace out.


Cut to real life.  I came home just in time for my birthday and now have to deal with the reality of  finding a job, paying off my $7k credit card bill and mundane tasks like doing the dishes, vacuuming my room and trying not to get my sideview mirrors knocked off.  Real life sucks.  To quote my boss from Party Earth,

“For a while, you’re going to think that everything and everyone sucks, and is dumb, and meaningless.”

Preaching to the choir.  Almost everyone I asked that had met while traveling told me to expect the first few weeks to be rough.  I could anticipate life “sucking” and being “being so depressed I [wouldn’t] know what to do.”  Thank you for the uplifting forecast fellow backpackers.

But there are some components of stability I’m looking forward to.  Now I can do my laundry whenever I feel like it and don’t have to worry about items going missing or not having enough time to dry in the sun (did not give enough props to my dryer until I realized how few countries use them).  I don’t need to pack 9 months worth of clothes into a tiny suit case every few days.  And for that matter I don’t have to lock up all my shit every time I leave my room.  My phone works in places other than the hostel lobby and select cafes. I also don’t have to go out binge drinking to make friends to accelerate the “getting to know you” process.   My liver is grateful at the very least.

The bottom line is whether I’m still on the road or back home, this trip has permanently changed my perspective on everything.  I’m still confident that New York is my favorite city in the whole world and will be the only city I will ever consider home.  But after months of never having two feet planted firmly on the ground, I don’t think I can ever consider myself fully back.  One foot will always be firmly planted in New York while the other wanders.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt truly passionate about anything I’ve ever done in my life until this trip and having this kind of feeling about anything is new to me.  Wanderlust has become as much a part of me as my slanty eyes.  It’s cliche, but my life will never be the same and I don’t think I will ever be satisfied to say I’ve seen enough of the world.

So, if my mom is right, as mom’s tend to be, in the past nine months I’ve given birth to a travel baby and am now faced with reality.  Please excuse me if I slip into my travel baby postpartum depression.  But don’t worry it’s nothing my friends don’t know how to cure with good company and a bottle of wine.


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