As the plane dipped through the clouds and the miles and miles of British greenery all of a sudden spun out into the horizon, it finally hit me. That I was coming home. That, for now, my travels had been folded away neatly into my diary, pinned to the pages as a memory. A surreal picture of my past.
I didn’t know how I would feel. Would I be sad? Deflated? Numb? Would I cry? Would it even feel real at all?
The answer hit me square in the chest as the plane wheels touched the runway.
Euphoria. Total, unadulterated euphoria.
Because in that moment, all I could see were the countless faces of the beautiful souls who had been brought into my life. The people from every corner of the globe who had shared my laughter and joy. Who had changed me. Who had shown me more love than I ever knew I deserved.
I was a solo traveller. Yet never, at any point, was I alone. From Australia to Indonesia, Singapore to Thailand, Vietnam and back again, I was forever surrounded by the warm embrace of others.
And whilst it is the glorious beaches, extraordinary islands, epic canyons, melting, sunsets, luscious rice fields, towering mountains, soothing waterfalls and sublime architecture that send shivers down my spine and fill my mind as I rest my head at night, it is the friendships that I feel the most lucky for.
The love. The exquisite, bursting out of your chest kind of love.
For wherever my life takes me, however many twists my path takes, that love will always show me the light. It will hold my hand. Remind me of the good in the world. The beauty of people in their purest form.
So this one? This one is for you.
This one is for my fellow Blue Crush Surf Camp stars; the girls who made me feel like, actually, travelling alone wasn’t that scary at all. For the endless laughs as we desperately tried to conquer the board. It’s for my German best friend, one of the kindest, most genuine souls I’m sure I will ever meet in my life. For the 6am swim in the waves of Byron Bay. The countless times that followed, from Byron right through until Cairns. It’s for the deep conversations canoeing through the Everglades with a girl overflowing with love for others. Our hike through Noosa National Park. For always showing me such tenderness, even now, so many miles apart. The Surfer’s Paradise head cases. For the two days that felt like two months. The beautiful bond we all made. It’s for every single hilarious member of the Fraser Family. Group 3 and the many, MANY sing-a-longs. For my Canadian girls, and the copious drinks that flowed amongst us. For our reunion in Bali. For the times that just kept on growing. This one is for my Whitsundays crew. The place I met my Dutch sister: a girl who opened my heart and my mind to something so much bigger, so much greater. All the camper van boys, from Scotland to Israel to New Zealand. The evenings spent sat around the campfire singing and sharing stories. For the idyllic sound of my favourite Scot in the world‘s voice. The wild nights and the peaceful days. For everyone who graced the famous Cairns balcony. Everyone who dared enter the hellish confines of Gilligan’s. It’s for the only male member of the Gili Girls; potentially the funniest person that exists, anywhere. The night spent drinking cocktails on the beach before dousing ourselves in orange, green and white at an Irish bar for Paddy’s Day. This one is for the Singapore trio, and the beers that never seemed to end. For my Bangkok babies. For better or worse. The openness and support we all shared. My French-Canadian brother. The Adele beer bottle. For having the exact same humour as me and the ability to have me keeling over with laughter with a single sentence. The Twin Hut creatures of Pai. A night we will never forget. The tranquility of those 11 days before the mayhem of Songkran. For being some of the funniest and most welcoming friends of my whole travels.
But most of all? It’s for the two girls who transformed my world. From our first encounter on the way to Nimbin to our final goodbye in Ho Chi Minh. The blessing that meeting you both has been. My soul sisters. Kindred spirits. For knowing that every life-changing moment throughout my travels was spent with you. That you have helped me grow into the very best version of myself. For simply being you.
Thank you to each and every one of you and so, so many more.
Thank you for the memories. Thank you for showing me what it was to truly love and be loved in return. Thank you for being a part of the most important adventure of my life. Thank you.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin