It’s different. It’s better. And it’s worse.
It hit me today — Day 17 of traveling more or less on my own — more so than any other day. Namely, because I just checked into my first closet sized room in Bangkok, finally realizing that I did not really need a room with two beds, A/C and a hot shower. Now, for $5 a night I get to lie down diagonally across my tiny bed, touching both walls with my outstretched arms, looking out across the sheet-metal roofs through my wrought-iron window.
At my guesthouse In Koh Phagnan I met quite a few people, and it was nice to have people to share meals and go out with, but a few days later one of us would move on and I was by myself once more. Adrift in a sea of humanity and humpbacked backpackers.
For some people — who I have a great deal of respect for — sparking conversations and creating an instant relationship is second nature. It’s natural, their personality.
For me, it’s more like third nature (which I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist).
I have to force myself to open up a conversation, and even when I’ve done that, I still have to force myself to control the level of sweat beading down my forehead. In other words, it’s not a gift I was born with. Though I know not all people who have that gift were born with it.
But it’s getting easier, and one of my primary motivators for this journey was to step outside my comfort zone, so in that regard, the trip is going as planned — I’m shaping my wayward youth into the man I want to be. And part of it is accepting that, as much as I sometimes envy those groups of friends laughing and drinking a few tables down from me, I love being by myself — watching, reading, and writing as the world goes by.
And although much of life revolves around relationships, being comfortable with yourself is just as important.
But dammit, I do miss traveling with my brother, my anchor.
*The German in the alternate title is an awesome girl my brother met in Vietnam, who, after hours upon hours of skypeing and actual visits, has brought my brother home with her to Germany.