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August 25th, 2003

Newbury Park (California), USA

My fever had broken by morning, but its mere presence had so disrupted my sleep that I overslept by an hour. My worst fear, and the primary cause for my lack of sleep, was that I would get quarantined for SARS and miss my sister's wedding. I was weak and tired when I checked out of the hotel, but at least I didn't have any of the SARS symptoms.

As if I hadn't suffered enough in the last twelve hours, my stomach started turning somersaults when I reached the airport. I kept speedwalking to the restrooms to throw up, but the waves of nausea would always subside before I was within range of porcelain. I was in an utterly miserable state, one in which thoughts of past, present, and future are all irrelevant -- all I wanted was relief, or to die.

My stomach settled down once I was on the plane. Through the window I watched the last bit of Asia pass beneath me, then the calm, blue waters of the South China Sea. When we reached the outskirts of the Korean peninsula, surrounded by a handful of small islands resembling Rorschacht blots, I realized that I was catching my first glimpse of pure, unadulterated, blue skies since Mongolia. During my three hour layover in Seoul, I tentatively tried to put something in my growling stomach, although a few bites of spaghetti were all I could handle.

The flight to Los Angeles was long and uncomfortable, and when I woke after about five hours of fitful sleep, the nausea had returned, accompanied by a headache. It was as if I was doing a whirlwind tour of maladies rather than countries. Dad greeted me at the gate, congratulating me for finally fulfilling my goal of travelling around the world. Back home, I had enough of an appetite to eat a small plateful of tortellini. Over dinner I caught up with the parents, and with my uncle and his family, who had just arrived from Massachusetts for the wedding. Not long after the sun had set, I turned in for the night.

It's amazing to me when I think of how many places I've managed to visit in these past seventeen months, and yet also how many places I still haven't seen. It would take many more years for me to do justice to the rest of the world. And although there's some part of me that would love to continue this journey, I've decided that now is the right time to end it. The appeal of a settled life, where friends last longer than three days, where one's wardrobe contains more than three outfits, where the first question in the morning isn't, "Where will I sleep tonight?", has grown stronger in the last few months. The travelling life is a great life, but all good things must come to an end.

My plans for the future have been slowly crystallizing over the past few months. After a brief, recuperating sojourn in California, I'm planning to move to Europe and see what life is really like on the other side of the pond. London is my top choice at the moment, but where I eventually call home may depend less on my own desires and more on where I can get a job.

To all of those who followed along on my travels, thanks for making this little project worthwhile.

"Strike another match, go start anew
It's all over now, baby blue"

Home sweet home

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