Well, right now, I am certainly not on “the road less travelled.”
Sitting in a Starbucks, headphones tucked into my ear, a smartphone by my elbow, sipping on an entirely disposable iced lemon tea.
At least I walked here.
I’m living in the swanky suburbs. Commuting an hour every day to work. Going to the movies for fun. We have an HD flat screen TV, with cable (basic, but still).
Sometimes, it feels like it was an entirely different person who watched the shooting stars in the Gobi desert, and ate mutton in a yurt. That it wasn’t really me who watched a camel polo match with old Mongolian men and joined them in snorting herbal snuff up my nose. Who hiked the Great Wall of China and lumbered into the frozen depths of Harbin on a packed Chinese train on New Year’s Eve. Who trekked up a volcano in the dark. Was that me who watched a majestic sea turtle float through the Andaman Sea as the sun set?
It’s hard to reconcile the person who did all those things with the woman currently sitting in Starbucks. Hard to reconcile the woman who was brave enough to move to Northern China ten years ago with who I am right now. The woman who used curtains as blankets the first few nights in her Chinese apartment, alone, shivering, wide-eyed and numb, listening to the curdling shrieks of the cats 18 stories below.
Before I moved to China, a good friend gave me a card with a Robert Frost poem in it, “The Road Not Taken”. It made me cry, and also made me wildly excited about my Chinese adventure. And two years later, as I said goodbye to my closest friends in China before moving back to Canada, I gave them the same poem. Again, with tears in my eyes.
I thought it was perfect for the two of them. Wanderers like me. Unsure where to next, but always somewhere.
I felt like they had been a huge part of my journey in China. I had loved walking on a scraggly dirt path with them, winding this way and that, skipping over the smelly pee spots and the hunks of spit.
Sometimes, I find it easier to be the woman who has done all those things. Lived in all those countries.
Sometimes, it’s this woman here, living in Ontario, in the suburbs, doing the laundry, driving a car with next to no exhaust, complaining about the price of groceries…who I sometimes don’t know how to be.
Maybe, just maybe, I need to figure out a way to find the road less traveled here. To find out who I am without a passport in my hand or a backpack slung over my shoulder. To discover what makes me tick, what inspires me, right here in my own backyard. Maybe that is the challenge, the journey that takes the most courage.
And, in the meantime, I always have my Starbucks.
Kim Therriault has travelled extensively throughout Asia, and has been lucky enough to have lived in Mongolia, Australia and, most recently, China. Happiest with her passport in hand, she is currently working out how to live in her home country, opening her nomadic heart and monkey mind to the love and adventures around her.
Editor: Jayleigh Lewis