Leaving Italy was filled with such sweet sorrow. Gazing out of the window on the plane ride back to England, tears had formed & hovered at the roots of my lashes, not quite committing to the fall. As much as I was excited to be heading home for Christmas, I knew I would miss Italy & a part of me worried that I'd made the wrong decision. Had I been too hasty & not thought through the consequences of my return. Especially as finally, after four months of traveling, had started to feel settled in my new environment.
My first morning back in England had felt surreal, as though my time away had been all but a dream. Had I not been in Rome just a few hours ago? It all seemed so close & yet so far away. Of course it was comforting to see Mère & to be back with Mr Pig, but I couldn't help feeling solum & regretful of my return. In some ways, I felt like a failure. I'd only been gone for four months & there I was, back again. I wouldn't let this be the end. Christmas, I thought. I'm only here for Christmas.
A few days in & cracks, in my new found inner peace, really started to show. Although I was back in England, I wasn't in my own home. That was gone & all that had filled it had gone with it too. Staying with Mère & her new partner, I was having to adjust to a whole new setup. I had taken a break from traveling, only to realise, that without roots anywhere, I was merely a guest & in essence still on my travels. The sudden realisation that I was truly homeless, made me crumble into a sobbing mess. Was I always going to feel like this? Awash with the tide.
In a bid to stop myself from drowning in my own self-pity, I decided to make the most of my time in England & reconnect with my friends. At the beginning of my travels, I had made a point of sending my closest friends postcards. One from every place I traveled to. Which, by the way, is far harder & more costly that you'd think. Then once a month, when I'd start to feel a little down & homesick, I would Skype mere & Charlotte & it would really lift my spirits. It's surprising how, just seeing a friendly face, or hearing a familiar voice, can really comfort you & stop you from feeling alone, when you're far away in an unfamiliar environment.
As the months had rolled on & I started to stay in places for longer periods of time, my postcard deliveries slowly dwindled to nothing & in turn, the Skype sessions ceased, despite my requests & I started to hear less & less from my friends. At first I wasn't too concerned, because, by this point, I had settled in Italy & had a nice group of friends around me, however, after a while I started to feel like I'd been forgotten. Was it a case of out of sight, out of mind?
Once back in England, although I made no big announcement of my return, I was disappointed at first, when my friends didn't fall over themselves in a bid to see me & instead, seemed to be perpetually busy. I started to doubt some of my friendships & this, combined with my already glum disposition, really started to affect me & bring me further down.
Then, just as I was about to melt into a pool of my own tears, my friend Ben came over to see me. We went out to my local village pub, The Black Horse, & caught up over a drink. We hadn't seen each other for an entire year & yet, it was as though I had only seen him the day before. He filled me in on his job & his girlfriend & I told him about my return to veganism & all the big ideas I'd thought up, inspired by my travels. Waiting for his eyes to roll, I was surprised at how encouraging & supportive he was. But wait, wasn't that what friends were supposed to be, why was I so surprised.
Soon after, in typical fashion, friend after friend, contacted me, wanting to meet. I spent a lot of my time over Christmas, popping over to friend's houses & going out for lunch. I almost didn't realise how much I'd missed them until we were back in each other's company. Each friend was so keen to hear of my travels & so excited about my future plans. It really touched me, especially at a time, when honestly, I was starting to feel lost, despite all that I'd experienced away.
My time away traveling & my brief time back in England, has really made me see the true meaning of friendship. It's the people that make time for you, the ones that are always encouraging & supporting you, making you feel heard, making you feel loved, regardless of how much you see or speak to each other. Those are real friends & ultimately, whatever else falls away, no matter how little you seem to have, if you have just one friend that truly cares, you have everything you need.