it's been one month since i got back from my month-long trip to thailand and bali and i'm just now starting to get back into my groove. not a perfect groove, but a groove none-the-less. the first week back i was napping like a champ (even for me). then i got sick. it's now been 4 days since i've reached for a kleenex. yay!
people keep asking me how my trip was and the obvious go-to answer is "Great." as an answer it's quick, easy and very true. kind of. it is a word that does much in conveying the fact that i thoroughly enjoyed taking off to these exotic lands by myself to study yoga, learn thai massage, read books, eat new things and enjoy getting lost. it's a word insinuating smiles, laughter, joy, bliss, good times and silly times. this pretty much sums up my trip and puts it in a nice little package with the perfect little bow. however, "Great" is an answer that says a lot and absolutely nothing at the same time.
it doesn't convey in any way the flurry of colorful flapping wings in my belly as i got on the train to find my hostel that first morning in bangkok with salt from the pacific ocean still in my hair because i didn't have time to shower after surfing on that crazy last day before i left honolulu. the very train ride which would turn out to be just the beginning of a 3-hour adventure including two hours of walking with a 30-pound backpack through the hustle and bustle of early morning bangkok busyness. the fact that despite the absurd amount of sweat dripping off me and the aches in my back and neck, i still couldn't help but smile that morning certainly does not fit into the perfect little "Great" box. this answer does nothing to describe the feeling of self empowerment i felt every time i left a city because in my heart i knew a little more about a tiny, foreign dot on the globe and about a tiny, unexplored place in myself each time i said good-bye and moved on to the next stop.
"Great" avoids the times i felt exhausted, overwhelmed, overweight, slightly scared and all alone. luckily, there weren't many of those times. it also does not hint at the financial poverty that i saw on the streets making me feel very lucky and very spoiled at the same time. it doesn't whisper of the desperation that i saw in strangers' eyes. eyes that have seen things i will probably never know or ever even imagine. eyes that spoke and, wherever they are today, still speak of humanity. eyes i avoided looking into and am ashamed to admit.
the word "Great" doesn't do justice to the amazing times and it completely ignores the not-so-amazing times. at best, this simple answer conveys that i loved and appreciated all the moments (amazing and not) along my travels. at best, it makes the person that asked about my trip content with the fact that my trip didn't suck. at worst, however, "Great" implies nothing went wrong, that i didn't have moments of frustration or that i wasn't exposed to suffering. at worst it tells you absolutely nothing about the many experiences that are now permanently woven into the unique tapestry of my being.
it is my wish for every one who reads this or asks me how my trip went to take a trip of their own. wherever. whenever. and get those butterflies in your own stomach. get lost and feel the empowerment of finding your way and finding yourself. laugh. get overwhelmed. feel the touch of a stranger's soul just by looking into their eyes. go. travel. and when you get back home and you can't figure out the right words to answer that question that everyone keeps asking you, "How was your trip?" you can pause, knowing that there are no words to explain it, smile and just say, "Great."