Pedalling Portugal – I’m back

It has been over a month since I’ve come back home and ever since I have been trying to write a ‘I’m back’ blog post but I’ve always failed.

I couldn’t write about my journey. I couldn’t even talk about it. When friends asked me how it was, I could only answer ‘Great. I loved it,’ before hastening to add ‘What about you? What have you been up to?’. People wouldn’t pry much after that. They were as little interested as I was and it suited me fine.

In some regards, I felt a similar way than I did when I came back from cycle touring in Scotland and the Orkney Islands back in September 2014. There was something too personal about the experience that held me back from finding words to share it. So I preferred not to speak to avoid uttering bland generalities that would ring untrue.

I remained quiet and went about my life. I updated my CV, caught up with friends, wrote job applications, visited Bristol, and little by little I transitioned to a new life off the bike. It was different from what I expected. I thought I would hate living in London with it noise and pollution but I have not felt any resentment against the city. I thought I would find it difficult to be still but I relished being home surrounded by my stuff. It all seemed very normal. But it wasn’t and I knew it. My eyes would fill up with tears every time I tried to talk about the future. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was standing on shifting sands. By quitting my job to go cycling in Spain and Portugal I had forsaken my old life. By stopping my wandering life on the bike, I had closed another chapter. But I didn’t want to admit this so I fought and pretended all was fine.

Last week, I was standing on the terrace of a Warm Showers host in Bristol, watching the light of the city dissolve into the countryside. Everything was quiet but for the murmur of a television program and the dull whistle of a distant road. I felt still and happy, part of a city but not trapped by it. And as I rested my glass of wine on the table, I let myself be swallowed whole by the sand. I have no grip on what’s to come and that is okay. The past is gone and I don’t have to hold on to it. I’ll fall onto steady ground soon enough.

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11 thoughts on “Pedalling Portugal – I’m back

  1. Nicely put Allysse. I’d love to hear some of the details of your trip but understand it maybe a long time (if ever) before you are able to express yourself, and even then it’s maybe obliquely. I only ask this – did you capture any sounds? Not that it matters if you didn’t – I’m just curious 😉 Welcome back.

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    • Thank you 🙂

      I’ve actually began opening up about my journey. Last week I started to go through my photos and just yesterday I started going through the sounds I recorded. There are a lot of them.

      I’m going to start sharing the photos from next week. I’m also planning to do a write up as it generally helps me process things (but that’ll take a good while). I also want to build an soundscape/audio story but that’ll definitely take longer than anything else. I’ll also be sharing the raw audio. Though that might not be before January as there is just so much to listen back to (I have at least 15h of sounds).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, difficult subject to post on when your not sure how you feel about it yourself. Don’t rush to find the solid ground, just relax, the sand needn’t be the sinking type. Hope to catch up soon.
    Pete

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  3. Transitions are often difficult, but at least in my experience they generally work out well. Life would be boring if it was always the same. Even if you think you think you’re only pretending to be fine, you probably really are, albeit with a few more unknowns than usual. As for your stories, little pieces at a time – savor the details and ignore the generalities.

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  4. Nicely put Allysse. I like to say “welcome home” rather than “welcome back”, because I imagine that when you have a life altering adventure “back” is the last place you want to go. I’m looking forward to hearing about the parts of your trip you want to share when the time is right. And especially looking forward to hearing what you choose to do next. Sometimes sand can feel rather lovely between the toes x

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    • Back is definitely not where I want to go. But somehow welcome home doesn’t fit all that well either since I’m transitioning homes at the minute. But I guess I’m home in a more general sense 🙂

      Thanks, I’ll be starting with photos. Text and sounds will come later. There is just so much more to sort out, it’s going to take a while to process it all.

      Well put and true. I’ll remember that about sand.

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