Travel changes us.
I thought about this as I was riding a local bus in Nepal. The Allman Brothers came up on my playlist and as I heard those lyrics “When it’s time to leave, I hope you’ll understand that I was born a ramblin’ man,” I thought about the first time I traveled as an adult.
It was my first trip with Sam (who called himself Ramblin’ Man,) although we had been together for years. I wasn’t at a point in my life where I realized how deeply I needed to travel.
We both struggled so much - myself with chronic depression (and undiagnosed PTSD) and him with bi-polar and addiction. Our relationship was tumultuous, with many periods where we had more downs than ups. We were in the middle of one of those times.
Sam was the kind of person that would do anything for the people he loved. But his personality was not immediately warm. He was untrusting and struggled to connect with other people.
On that warm day in Grand Bahama island, we boarded a tour bus leaving from the cruise port. It was full of people and I was prepared to have to “carry the weight.” I often found myself tending to him in social situations by keeping an eye on him, helping to guide conversations and anything else I could to cover up the fact that he was not okay.
That I was not okay.
I wish I could remember the joke he made, but in a quiet moment in a bus full of people - he said something that broke everyone out in laughter. I looked at him and saw a spark in his eye that had long been lost and covered up by a constant darkness in his gaze.
He used to make me laugh harder than I’ve ever laughed and we would often get caught up in a laughing spell, but it wasn’t something that I had seen him share with a stranger.
That trip was a gift to us in a way that I couldn’t understand until later. It was one of the happiest times of our lives. We returned home as different people - forever changed by travel and the way it opens hearts & minds.
It’s been over 7 years since he died, and I’ve put in a lot of work to set down the weight of that pain. But whenever I feel sad about him and see the darkness in my own eyes - I remember the way his lit up that day.
And I ramble on.