Half the enjoyment I get out of where I am in life is knowing it's going to change soon in a drastic way, so I'm always half-anticipating what's to come, and half-savoring the moment that's about to be gone.
It's funny, because my travel experiences didn't replace the stories I love to read. No matter how much I travel, I doubt I'll sacrifice my life in the French Revolution, waver in indecision over whether I should take revenge on the king who murdered my father and married my mother, or walk through hell, purgatory, and heaven before coming back to tell the story. Maybe I'll never even fall deeply and irrevocably in love, save someone's life, or sacrifice everything I have for a cause I believe in. Life can't replace stories, just like stories can't replace life; each simply heightens the other.
When I got the rejection email, I drew in my breath in shock and waited for the exhale, for the sinking, crushing disappointment. But instead, I felt...liberated. If I had gotten the scholarship, I would have been locked into my grad school plan, which isn't a bad thing. However, without the scholarship, my options opened up.
One of the hostels I went to in Nicaragua gave me the option to stay in a dorm with air conditioning for $9, or one without for $8. I chose option #2 and it saved me dollars total. Somehow two dollars are worth more on the road.
Sometimes solo backpacking means luxurious solo thinking time in an exotic location or making crazy foreign traveler friends, buts sometimes it's being lost, alone and sweaty, in an unknown city with no one to remind you it might be a funny story later.
I was always just the stand-out macha, object of catcalls, and interesting because of my foreign-ness. I knew a lot of people, but I was lonely.
I think the idea of the U.S. being one of the least free countries in the world hit me so hard because the chains are spiritual, not legislative. I do, after all, have the freedom of speech to condemn my country up one side of the globe and down the other, but that doesn't require breaking any shackles.