Sunday, July 29, 2007

Day 364: Tomorrow

It is about midnight, the night before I will fly home. I've spent the last few days in Halifax, Canada with my friend Lisa, after arriving safely from Siberia. The trip was intense, although all in all everything ended well. I left Cherskii Tuesday evening, arriving in Yakutsk late that night to find the hotel had no record of my reservation, and no one on duty who spoke English to any useful degree. After awhile, they tried to give me a room for about $300, at which point I mildly flipped out and they woke up a manager to give me whatever I wanted.

The next day began an utterly grueling 48 hour journey. The final dregs of my banking account have gone to Mother Russia, in her exorbitant fees to transport my excess luggage. During the first leg, between Yakutsk and Moscow, I realized something: I am tired of traveling. Not forever, but right now, I am tired. Two hours into the flight, I realized I still had four more hours to Moscow, 4 more five-hour flights, and 3 customs officials to fight through. Every time I got on a new plane I turned back my clock, finding myself progressing almost not at all through the day and having no idea what time my body was actually on. I was in disgusting shape by the time I hit Canada.

Ever since then I've had a lovely time here. We're gone swimming in the lake everyday, I've got my first sunburn of the year, and I've rediscovered food. But to summarize my pre-home epiphany: this is nice. I am tired of moving. The novelty of flying a bazillion miles to far-away places has worn off. I missed my only brother's high school graduation and all of his senior games. I haven't seen any friends in a year. My foot hurts. I'm ready to be done.

But don't let that make you think I haven't enjoyed myself. I wouldn't have traded this year for anything. I'm just glad I've come to terms with going home, even if I have butterflies in my stomach tonight. I'm sure I'll be wanting to move on again soon enough, but for now - I'd like a bed thats not a piece of plywood, and to be able to understand what people are saying, and to make friends that I don't have to say goodbye to in three months.

People often remark on the bad luck with my foot. I have a hard time saying "bad luck". It's a thing that happens - things happen, especially in this crazy journey. I never thought I'd buy a snowmobile. I never thought I'd live in the shadow of a mountain and not be able to reach the first bouldery plateau. I'll go home with a permanent souvenir of this trip - a three inch bolt in my foot.

And when you think about it, how cool is all that, really.


Anonymous said...

What a year! What an experience! Thanks for taking us with you, we have loved the blog. Here's to life to come!

liylak said...

I want to echo the previous comment... that it has been amazing to read your documentation of the journey.

I cannot even begin to comprehend how much you learned this year. Nor can I understand how nice it will be to unpack, sleep in a comfy bed you call your own, and be able to 'settle in.' That is... until your next adventure!

love ya.

Antonio said...

Yes, I agree... thanks Laurel for these 365 days of adventures, pictures & histories, was very interesting.
I'll miss this Blog.

Take a long rest, you really deserve it

Anonymous said...

Dear Laurel,
In the early years, when my kids were little and I was your age, we made many jaunts we coined "planes, trains and automobiles." My mother called them "adventures" and they consisted of trains over rickety trellises, ferries running over reefs, boats in 12 foot seas and squalls, seaplanes that could barely lift off and houses with roofs you could watch the stars through. Unless you have lived through these "adventures" as you describe, one has no concept or true appreciation of the toll it takes on one's psyche and body. I appreciate your "adventure." And, as you said, I would not trade a moment of it, nor would my children. That's why they are who they are today and why you are now who you are. I'm very proud of you. What do you say we take a family vacation to the Virgin Islands to relax in turquoise seas? :-)

Marieke said...

Laurel--I have very much enjoyed learning about Arctic communities through your blog--and I can't wait to read your future book! Keep up the great work, and keep dreaming. You are inspiring to others whether you realize it or not.
Best wishes,

Anonymous said...

Nice that you found back home. Hopefully you come back to Svalbard at some point. We'll see there then, I quess. Even thou I haven't been planning to go back after I'll leave...

Good luck in California

-Mikko (a friend ?)