Not the End of the Road

In Jo's last post on Wand'rly (for now at least!), she struggles with the notion of life's changing parameters, of a traveler who stops, and what that means...

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When I set out on my long journey in the summer of 2009, I had no idea where, or even if, my road would end–nor how long it would take. I certainly didn’t think it would lead me to my future husband in Armenia; that we would try–and fail–to move back to the land of my birth, and not that we would one day live in the most beautiful city I have ever seen, perched in the clouds above Spain.

When we first came to Granada, we had decided to stay for at least six months. It soon became clear that this was a place to nest for longer. We have a perfect landlady, who just brought us a Christmas present and some fresh blankets when she came to collect the rent. We have a cozy little flat with a flat roof that allows me the luxury of yoga under a vibrant blue sky in December. There are too many nooks and crannies left to explore in this city, too many surprises down tiny lanes, which I swear move and switch places when nobody is looking.

Slowly we have carved out our lives here: Friends, frequented bars and cafés, the way I walk to town—always stopping for a few gulps of the fresh clear water that tumbles from the wall at the start of Gran Vía.

Things change fast in Granada, despite the slow pace of life. I make friends only to see them leave town a few months later. Looking back, it feels like my life here could be divided into chapters. During one chapter, I went to the gym almost every day at 9am, then breakfasted on tostadas and cafe con leche in one of my favourite writing cafes, always on the hunt for a new place with wifi.

When I grew bored of running toward myself in the gym mirrors to Spanish dance music and hearing the grunts of testosterone across the room, I found an outdoor running route, with those funny outdoor gym machines dotted along the way. Nowadays I mostly write at home, between bouts of online English classes, trying to cram in Spanish learning activities, and the campaign work that is my passion.

For a long time I struggled with the identity that I had built around myself over the previous years–that of a long-term traveller, a hitchhiker–crumbling. If I’m not always travelling, then am I still a traveller?

Then I remembered that the nature of life is to change. We cannot hold onto fixed identities. And labels mean nothing but a word.

We will stay here, it seems, at least until the frost thaws and new flowers push through the earth. When I returned from England at the end of the summer, Hrach and I sat down in one of our favourite tapas bars, to talk about where we might live next. We split pieces of paper into tiny squares, scribbled names of countries and cities and folded them tight. Then we swapped the stacks of folded paper and sorted one another’s proposals into piles: “Hell yeah!” “Maybe” and “Not a chance”.

The ExerciseAt the end of this exercise we had a small pile of “no way” and a big pile of “maybe”. We spread the maybes across the table and gazed at our possible futures: Uruguay, Kurdistan, Sicily, Saudi Arabia, a Greek island, a long trip through Africa…

The future is a dice not yet rolled. The only thing certain is, this is not the end of the road.