The Key

Trip Start Dec 03, 2004
Trip End Nov 31, 2005

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Flag of Australia  ,
Sunday, December 19, 2004

After two weeks I've had to reassess this trip a number of times. Before I left I thought this was six months I had to slog through in order to earn the key to solo travelling. I imagined this as a fist-sized golden skeleton key that would guide me intrepidly around the world, opening all doors in my path.

Sometime in the second week I realized that I'd had the key in my back pocket all along, and that the six months couldn't be approached like a test, but as an experience of their own. Not as a quest for independence, but as an expression of it.

I don't really know what I was expecting from Australia; there were high expectations because it's a tried and tested backpacker route, trodden by millions of feet just like mine in the years before; if I failed, it would be embarassing because so many have succeed.

That all changed, too. By the fourth day I knew I wasn't going to fall spectacularly on my face, that I would always be able to keep my head above water, that even small setbacks (losing my watch, breaking my sunglasses, forgetting my rain jacket in Sydney just when I might need it, same for my flashlight) wouldn't be enough to derail the experience. At that point I acknowledged that the country itself, as well as just the experience of travelling, had its tread marks all over me, indelible on the skin.

I woke in a cold sweat on the fifth day from a dream in which I somehow found myself returned early to Canada and unable to come back. I ranted, raved, cried: how had this happened? Let me back! Don't hold me here, with the rest of the trip unexperienced!

I do know that someday in the distant future I will have to go home and leave some things undone, some trails untrod. But I've already got that big key weighing down my back pocket; there are doors to open in so many more places.
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