Thinking back on my ‘big year’ of travel feels like remembering a vivid dream. At times clear, but otherwise foggy. It can seem like it was just yesterday, or a lifetime ago. I’m often glad for the extensive photo journal I kept along the way. Without it, I would have forgotten places, names, and countless other details by now. There are cities, landscapes, trinkets, food. More importantly, interesting people and great friends. What I always notice the most, however, are the changes I see in myself. A photo of me from August of 2013 shows one person, and a shot from August of 2014 shows someone else entirely. Since being back home, I’ve wondered if a younger me would have gotten as much out of that trip as I did at thirty two. I doubt it.
*Insert cliche about how travel changes you here*
Well, just like stereotypes, cliches exist for a reason. Though in this case, I’m not sure anyone can change unless they’re open to it in the first place. Many people are desperate for a transformational travel experience. Others stubbornly cling to their ‘home’ selves. I didn’t try for either, yet somehow accomplished both. Not that it was easy.
I still think of that year as the best of my life so far. It was also the worst. There were amazing new friendships and romance. There was also prolonged loneliness and heartbreak. I visited incredible cities and landscapes, and was stimulated by fresh experiences and knowledge. None of that is constant. There were also entire days spent alone on trains or buses. Entire nights in airports. Times when I couldn’t escape from myself, or find a big enough distraction. Places I hated but was stuck in. Days where all I’d want was an actual friend to talk to.
The Fall after I came home, I had an idea to create an emotional journal of my ‘big year’ using my favourite genre of dance music: Trance. I’d listened to a lot of it during my trip, and certain tracks had taken on new and powerful meanings for me. It took several months, but I was eventually able to string them together into a set. It’s still the most narrative set I’ve done, and a year and a half after recording it, I still give it a listen every once and a while. Every track, every lyric, and every mix and key change are deliberately chosen to tell the story back to myself. I’ve shared it with a few close friends, but have only decided to post it online now. If you give it a listen, I’d love to know what you think…