Well, the end of an era has arrived. Today I said goodbye to Beth and Jacquie, who have been my other two-thirds over the past few months. It wasn’t an easy goodbye. I cried and walked back to the hostel in Chiang Mai, as they proceeded on to a bus to Chiang Rai. Even though we’ve known this was going to happen for a long time, it didn’t really sink in properly. I still don’t think it has, but it might when I check in to a hostel by myself for the first time. I’m sitting here now just letting it all out, because I sure as hell don’t want to be a mess when I arrive in Bangkok, solo.
I wanted to take the time to reflect on the time I’ve spent with them, and to thank them for making my travel experience truly unforgettable. I also decided this would be a great opportunity to share some photos that haven’t yet made their way into my blog, and that demonstrate what life is like with these two amazing (and silly) women.
To both of you as a unit – I absolutely adore the trio of fun and trouble that we have created over the past two months. There are endless inside jokes, and I couldn’t possibly start to list them here. You’ve made me laugh so hard I’ve cried, and made me stop crying by making me laugh. You were both there to hold my hands and be my shoulders to cry on when I received some pretty big news and felt the sting of rejection from a university program. You handled my blubbering with style, grace, and humour, and assured me that life would go on (and it did.) I will never forget the two amazing people who helped me move through that incredibly difficult moment in such a positive way.
To Beth (my Bethy, Buffies, Beffies, etc.) If it weren’t for you, I would probably have drowned in a puddle of my own tears on the floor of the Mughal Serai train station. You challenged me to brave India with you, and I believe I’m a better person for it. You helped me through the tough days, as I tried to do for you too. You support me, you challenge me, you keep me on my toes, and you share your wisdom with me. Thanks for sticking with me the whole way through, even through the tough times – and the bath-times 😉
To Jacquie (also known as Jacqueline, Jacquarooo, Jacquadee). Your addition to our group was a most pleasant surprise! We left Toronto with a very vague plan, that slowly developed to spending two months together and taking on Southeast Asia as a team. You completed our group, rounding out the Beth and Carolyn duo to the Beth-Carolyn-Jacquie trio of trouble in the most wonderful ways. You have helped me realize strengths I never knew I had, and shown me the benefits of diving into travel headfirst. Your constructive way of dealing with problems and the friendship we had when we began this trip has grown so much, into something I know will last for years to come.
Some people say they could never travel for two or three months with other people. It’s not always easy – it takes compromise, selflessness, and a commitment to cooperation. But the benefits are absolutely out of this world, something I would never pass up for anything. While we had our tense moments, I can honestly say that I have had some of the best moments of my life with Jacquie and Beth. I have no doubts that the friendship we have developed through this trip will last a lifetime, because it’s something we’ve consciously worked towards. And while we have met many great people from all over the world, I still get to see these two at home. We can sit around together when we’re 40, and 60, and 80, and reminisce about all the great times.
Some of the greatest times have been silly little things. When you leave home to travel, you leave your normal, in every sense of the word. No longer are your regular foods available, you’re constantly sleeping in new beds, the familiar neighbourhood faces become people you’ve run into several times along your travels, and the people you’re stuck to like glue become your family. Like any family, you develop habits, and after a while you create a new routine, a new sense of normal. Beth, Jacquie, and I were together long enough for that to happen, and now that I’m out on my own, it’s a bit disconcerting. Sure, I can run out to 7-11 to grab a toastie… But they won’t be there when I get back. I have a similar feeling to the end of my fourth year of university – it’s bittersweet. I’m so sad it’s over, because I know things will never be the same again. I will never be 23, in Southeast Asia, with two of my best friends again. But, I will get to be in South Africa with my one very best friends in a few days, and I have an amazing opportunity to have new and exciting adventures with him (can’t wait to see you darling… it’s been far too long!) I’ve just got all the feels going on right now.
Everyone says you should travel alone at least once in your life. Well, I say you should also travel with friends. Friends that you truly value, and friends that will help you learn something about yourself. Thanks to these two very special people, I will remember this trip forever.