I was relieved to be back on the road again. Though it was cool to see Denver, I had been there for 12 days and it was wearing on me. It was the first metropolis in which I spent any significant time in over a month, and it was a shock to the system. Added to that was the stress of the RV situation which had me thoroughly rattled. By day two of the RV fiasco (the day I left Best Auto & RV and moved myself and kitty into a hotel room), I was ready to throw in the towel. I felt betrayed by Betty that she could just break down at any time and leave me stranded on the side of the road. I worried it would happen again. After a pep-talk with Mike to bring me back down to Earth and realize the insignificance of the situation in the grand scheme of things (that cars having problems is nothing new), I surrendered myself to this time in limbo while waiting for the RV to be repaired. The best I could do was take it somewhere that I felt sure the job was getting done right. As I got back on the road, I made peace with this part of the journey and the gut wrenching urge to rush back home subsided.
I couldn’t help but compare this event with one when I was 21. My mom and I traveled through Europe. The plan was to travel from Lisbon, Portugal to Rome, Italy over the course of three weeks, at which time she would leave, and I would be on my own for another three weeks. I was excited at the thought of traveling alone in a foreign country and was sure this was going to be my path to self-discovery. I didn’t have a set itinerary of where I was going. I was just going to let fate lead me. Once my mom left, I knew I wanted to go back to Sorrento, Italy – a sweet little town that sits on the edge of dramatic, sweeping white cliffs of the Almafi Coast. We had briefly stopped there one day, and I immediately fell in love with it. I spent the better part of a week there and I felt at home. It was a town where the old met the new, where you would find old Italian men sitting on a park bench conversing and people-watching, probably talking about how much their town had changed since they were kids.
Eventually, I met a girl, her brother and their friend who were staying at the hostel I was staying in. They invited me to go to the island of Capri with them and I did. It was an amazing time and had I not met them, I would have never gone. They then invited me to go over to Corfu, Greece with them. I was ecstatic! I could just tag along with these people who I got along with, and they had already picked places they were traveling to. I followed them blindly. All I knew was we would be staying at a place called the Pink Palace. So, we made our way to Naples to catch a train to Brindisi where we would then take an overnight ferry to Corfu. On the ferry were a ton of other people our age going to the same hotel. A pink bus picked us all up at the dock. When we arrived at the Pink Palace we were corralled into a huge room filled with big round tables and were asked to sit. I don’t remember much of what happened between that point and the next. All I remember was being coerced into drinking a shot of ouzo, an anise-flavored liquor (think licorice), as some sort of initiation. I didn’t have a problem with drinking the shot so much as I did with this ridiculous scene and being expected to drink it in order to be welcomed here and fit in. It felt like I was at a frat party. I gave in just to get it over with. That evening, the Pink Palace was having a toga party. Not super thrilled about going, I went anyway. My shyness had a suffocating hold on me at this age and within ten minutes of being at this toga party, I felt completely displaced and out of my element. I was miserable. I went into a tailspin of unhappiness, to the point of getting sick. Before I knew it I was on a plane back to the States nearly a week ahead of schedule.
All this time, I’ve attributed that need of returning home from the Pink Palace to loneliness and homesickness. What I’m realizing now is I think I would have been completely happy staying in Sorrento for the entire three weeks because I felt at home and at peace there. The second I was put in an uncomfortable situation, I didn’t know how to handle it which left me feeling anxious and lonely. Had I simply processed the situation and recognized it for what it was, I could have taken myself away from the Pink Palace and done something else or gone somewhere else that was more suited to me and finished out the rest of the planned trip. But my stark reaction ensnared my feelings in a vicious downward spiral, and there was no relief until I reached the comfort of home.
Perseverance is a new concept to me and I think I’m finally getting a taste of it.