This is the first experience of my life where I am fully accepted as the person that I am. Not as a ‘traveller’, simply as me.
I don’t have a past here. Or if I do it is irrelevant to the present. My new friends along the way have not asked about the person that I was, other than the basics of why I chose to travel in the first instance. They care about who I am now as that is the only person they are experiencing.
I am only judged based on the words I speak at present and the being that I am today.
For a person that has had to battle to stay afloat for a large portion of her life this notion is a new style of thinking that I am having to get my head around. The idea that my past is not defining me has only just occurred to me.
I have been in the States for seven weeks now and during a conversation last night with the family friends I am currently staying with (that I met for the first time when I arrived in their city two days ago) I found myself looking at the person I am out here in a new light.
They laughed lightly when I stated that I am discovering along this journey that I appear to be a “people person” to which my new friend JC sweetly giggled “you didn’t realise this before?!” followed by AC’s endearing comment following our discussion about possible job prospects once I return to the UK in the new year, where I mentioned that I had loved my previous workmates more than the work, “I think the person that you are you will make instant connections with whoever you work with wherever you choose to work…I think that they will become instant lifelong friends to you that would bond with you so well in no time at all that they will end up doing anything for you.” Hearing this after talking about the strong friendships I have made in no time at all (one friend I met at breakfast, spent the entire day and nighttime with in Boston, and he left the next morning; we are still speaking every few days since we met seven weeks ago and he is planning a visit from Australia to England to stay with me for a few weeks in the new year) made me smile inside in the most comforting way I can imagine.
Today, in Colorado Springs where I am currently staying with my Mum’s best friends’ brother and sister-in-law (and their beautiful four month old daughter), I rode a ‘Cog’ rail ride up their highest mountain ‘Pikes Peak’ 14,110 feet up which took a little over an hour on that Cog train to get to the top. In that hour, now that I think of it, I could have sat quietly watching the incredible scenery as our conductor made us laugh our way to the top telling us tales of the views we were experiencing. Instead I made friends with the people sat next to me; a Mother, a Son, and a Son-in-law. Once at the top for the half an hour we had up there I took and posed for photos along the mountains’ edge with my new friends while chatting away as if we had planned to take this trip up the mountain together for months. We then spent the next hour train ride down the mountain taking in the views as we continued our conversations and exchanged names, numbers and email addresses. Once at the bottom our goodbyes were said and I started on my walk down to the local town.
Five minutes into my walk a car drove past waving at me as I happily waved back not actually able to see who I was waving at, then stopped and out came DA (the Son I had met on the Cog) who asked if I would care to join them for lunch; he then jokingly acknowledged the fact we had only just met by stating “we won’t kidnap you I promise” as I was already crossing the street to their car.
An hour and half later we really did say our goodbyes after a laughter-filled lunch full of stories. I then continued as I was before to view the amazing little mountain town we were in as they went back to their lives also.
This tale of lunch with my new friends being no surprise to my Colorado hosts, JC and AC, after my two hour horse ride yesterday where I instantly made friends with the only two other riders in our group, along with the cowboy leading us, to the point where the couple took my details so that when I am in Los Angeles they can let their daughter who lives there know to perhaps show me around while I am out that way.
Before travelling I believed I was ok only really in my comfort zone in making friends. I had limited experiences of making friends outside of my comfort zone I believed however when looking back I am realising my comfort zone was in fact making new friends. I have never struggled to make new friends and often bond with others quickly which I thought had a lot to do with the fact I was comfortable in my surroundings. However while travelling I am in a new city and State every few days, a new hostel every few nights, and a new journey each day.
Without a care for the ten pounds I have gained since coming to America, the texture and random colour my hair has turned from the intense heat and sun, the blemishes that appear daily as my skin attempts to adjust to the new environment I am placing it in along with the new foods I am feeding it, or the accent I am picking up along the way; my new friends care little about anything other than the person and personality standing in front of them today. That form of acceptance, the fact that they choose to befriend me for the person they see before them, is heartwarming for me.
I thought perhaps the ‘like me or lump me’ girl was back and this was where my confidence in approaching new people had found itself, however I don’t think that she is. In her place currently stands a new form of that girl not fully established yet.
This girl doesn’t have time to change to suit the new friends she is making because the friendships are often created within hours. This girl is simply the girl she is, and the friendships are developing around that.
With four months to go I am excited for the developments to come.