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Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

“Poor Attempts at Philosophy While Making My Way Through the Outback”

AUSTRALIA | Wednesday, 3 November 2010 | Views [1679] | Comments [2]

I like to take photos of road signs. The picture I just took from the bus window gave the following information: “Stuart Highway. Ti Tree 126, Tennant Creek 440, Darwin 1428” These numbers are in kilometers. My destination? Darwin of course - starting in Alice Springs. All I can think of is, shit, I’ve got a long way to go.

I keep finding myself in places where I am “in the middle of nowhere”. The first time I experienced it was when I was on the Tran Siberian from Irkutsk to Mongolia and then Mongolia to Beijing. Miles and miles of nothingness. Out the window was a vast span of emptiness - ground, bushes, sky, but no real evidence of man besides the train tracks and telephone poles. This bus trip brings about the same feelings. Bushes and grass wiz past me as I listen to my music and think about life. Hurray - because I haven’t thought about my life enough in the last few months! One can’t help but feel a bit philosophic and poetic as they marvel at the beauty outside and turn within to help pass the time. The sky is so incredibly large and blue. The ground is so red. Currently the outback is experiencing one of their wettest seasons in decades and I am treated to lush green that passes by. Small termite hills are starting to pop up everywhere. The road is so straight and long that in the distance it looks like water instead of ground. Every few hours we stop at a petrol station that seems to appear out of nowhere and we use the toilets. Sometimes in the shades of trees you will see a circle of Aboriginal people relaxing and talking. I give my driver, Nifty, a lot of credit for undertaking this long trip - I think I might go a bit mental if I were doing it on my own. I mentioned my feel of being in the “middle of nowhere” to Nifty the other night. He took a drag on his cigarette, looked to the sky, ran his fingers through his wavy brown hair and said “We’re always somewhere, aren’t we Lauren? So then this really can’t be nowhere, can it?” Well said.

I think a lot on these long road trips. I think of my past, and I think of where I want to go with my life. I used to hate thinking at the beginning of my travels. Now I welcome it. I didn’t think enough at home - just constantly distracted myself with my boyfriend and my job. I can’t get over how introverted I have become on this trip. All too easily I slip into my own thoughts when I am on my own - whether it be at a café over my coffee or lunch, sitting at a bar or sitting on a bench in the sun at a random park. My brain has become the most interesting thing that I carry with me.

I’ve met hundreds of people now on the road. I’ve talked with quite a few who have told me that they’ve learned to appreciate home so much more while traveling. My one friend, Johan told me that the longer he travels the happier he is that he lives in Sweden and that there is no place he would rather live. Another girl I have met named Emma told me last night that traveling in Australia on her own was the best thing she could have done, because it made her realize how much she loves her life in England. I haven’t had a reaction like that to my travels. The longer I am gone, the longer I want to stay gone. I feel bad saying this because I know I have a lot of friends and family at home that would really like to see me. I wish I could see them - but that wish isn’t enough to want to bring me back. I have an ever-growing list in my head of the places I want to go to: New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Fiji, Japan, Egypt, South America, South Africa. Sigh. How will I ever get to see all this? I’m seriously entertaining teaching English as a second language in Asia to be able to fund my trip over there. Then at least I would be able to teach again - which is something I will admit to missing. I don’t miss students being rude and disrespectful to me but I do miss the good kids. It’s so interesting….the more time that passes the more I remember the great students and experiences I have and the less I remember all the shit heads I have also had to deal with. The point I am trying to make is that I’m glad I haven’t gained a love for home while traveling. Otherwise I think I would have regretted the decisions I have made. In about 3 days I will have been gone for 4 months. While I regret some of the choices I have made on the road, I do not regret the choice to leave.

I’ve thought quite a bit about my “love life” as well. Will I ever be able to settle with someone again? I’ve learned that my last relationship was a complete and total disaster - all my fault. I don’t want to mess things up with someone again. The original purpose of this trip was to get things out of my system. I was tired at home thinking “what if” constantly. What if there is someone better out there for me? What if there is another career path I am supposed to take? What if I was meant to find happiness somewhere else? It’s because of these “what if’s” that my last relationship failed seeing that the person I was with was quite content where he was and with who he was. I’m glad that I have taken the step to answer these what if’s but I’m afraid the answers to these questions have made me realize that I don’t think I’m meant to live a “traditional” life. At least not anytime soon. Part of me would really like to get married again, settle down, have kids and a dog and cat and in-laws and all that great Americana but I am afraid that it’s not in my cards. At least not anytime soon. I would like to think that my partner in life is out there, somewhere. And I really hope someday to be able to travel the world together with him. They say that you find that special someone when you aren’t looking - when you least expect it. I figure this will happen to me because at the moment I am feeling quite pessimistic about finding that person anytime soon. Maybe I’m being a bit protective of my heart over the few “let downs” I have had from meeting people I’ve really fallen for during traveling. Obviously I am not ready for a relationship yet so it’s good I haven’t met the right person. Otherwise I would probably mess things up like I did before.

I still worry - so much. I really hope that Melbourne is as promising as everyone seems to think it is. The next month in Australia will be quite interesting for me. I will be doing a bit of the touristy thing - see Byron Bay, Brisbane, Surfer’s Paradise, Sydney, Coff’s Harbour, but the main point will be visiting friends I haven’t seen in ages. It was these friends that got me interested in Australia in the first place. Part of me feels sad that I am not going up to the super touristy bits like Cairns and Fraser Island but I keep telling myself I will do it next year - after I am done with working for 6 months. I don’t mind so much - because I came to Australia more to live here than to see the sights. I hope that seeing these friends will be as good as I hope.

And so the landscape rolls by me - and so I delve deeper and deeper into my thoughts. While this is most definitely not the most interesting or exciting post I have ever written it is nevertheless essential to write. My past posts have been about what I have been doing and where I am going in life. Well, driving and thinking is who I am right now. The fun part will be to read my posts at the beginning of my trip and compare!

In my heart this trip is never going to end. Because I have decided that my life is a journey and my future choices will reflect that as long as I’m here. This is such a cliché to say but really life is too short and there is too much to see and experience before we’re gone. I’m done with the what-if’s…from now on it will be “what’s next?”



Hey Lauren!
Finally up to date again with your travel stories! Some parts of your stories sound so familiair to me, I felt the same when I was backpacking about meeting and saying goodbye to fellow backpackers. Being a bit tired of traveling and sightseeing all the time, losing the appreciation of all beautiful things you see every day. For me that was the moment to start working and live like a local and meet locals (the real Australians and not just backpackers). Who knows your guy is traveling around the globe as well, he just took a different direction for a little while, but in the end he will find you!
I am sure you will love Melbourne. It is a great city, so much to do and so much to see. If you consider living there for a longer time, you might want to try to rent a room in an appartment. Unless you are not sick and tired of hostels yet after four months. I got something through Gumtree when I was there. If you'd like to make a road trip with other backpackers use the online noticeboard from Globalgossip, really effective!

Enjoy Australia!


  Chantal Nov 4, 2010 7:11 AM


I too, Lauren, do not see the 'traditional' life path in my future plans. Scary - yes, exciting - Fark YES! (Fark will be added to your Aussie voice box soon enough!). It's not wrong to realise this - isn't it better to know now then to realise it in 20years? Your path, my dear friend, is to touch everyone's life just the way you have been. Keep on truckin little lady

  Tammie Nov 23, 2010 5:25 AM



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