Thursday, May 13, 2010


I'm home. I'm sitting in the room I grew up in, typing on the laptop that lasted me all through college.

I didn't know for sure that I would be coming home until about ten minutes before the flight from O'hare left the gate for Sea-Tac. But that's exactly what happened. So I'm back in Seattle.

First impressions: Look at this picture. This is my room. I have way too much stuff. Part of it is all the things I sent back home, some of it is mail that piled up while I was gone,  some of it is stuff I never sorted out after coming home from college. The rest is just me having too much stuff. You look at the amount of stuff you own differently when for a year and a half, all your worldly possessions fit in a 55-liter bag.

I was looking forward to wearing stuff I haven't been wearing every day for a year and a half. But none of it feels right. It looks funny. I feel funny wearing it.

But my first few minutes in  my room were... well, I felt like I was somewhere more foreign than I'd been in years. What is all this stuff? Who was this mysterious person who owned and arranged it all? He's disappeared, and nobody has heard from him for a long time. But I did remember something he did. He wrote a note on his old laptop. For me.

I found the old Compaq in a backpack in my closet. At first it didn't want to boot up, giving checksum errors, and the power giving out completely halfway through the little windows XP splash screen. I went into the BIOS, fixed the clock, got the charger plugged in more securely, and booted. It was very slow. But on the desktop was a little word file. "Letter to self.doc"

I didn't expect it to be so sad. Some of it's pretty personal, so I won't go into details, but there's a lot of uncertainty. Nowadays, I think that's exciting. But this was a letter of doubts, written by a lonely guy. It's signed "I hope you’re a better man than I am. I’m sure you are. Good luck in whatever you choose to do next." I just want to go back in time and give the poor guy a hug.

But if there's one thing I came home or, it's my family, and I've already seen all five of my amazing nieces, both my siblings and siblings-in-law, and of course, my parents. I've eaten the pac nw oysters and dungeness crab cakes I've been craving for months. And I have some very big plans for my immediate future. But this blog isn't about that, is it?

I'm going to need some more time to adjust. It's all very intense, new and old all at the same time. I'm excited to be back to get started on sorting out my past and future. I'll have a lot more to say here once I've adjusted and am able to process things. But there's a lot I want to say with this next entry. Figure out some take home thing for what happens after you go around the world. Say something from what I've learned. But I'm going to need a few days to process the here and now before I can reflect on what I've done and where I've been on this adventure. When I do, I'll have something worthwhile for you. So do check back.


  1. welcome home!! i have to say--i'm so happy you are back in the northwest, but so sad that there won't be periodic "JTREK Email Updates" waiting in my inbox. it's been such a treat to read. thank you!!! (and see you this summer!)

  2. I'm glad you're back. Please do keep us updated on what it's like coming home - a trek does not end when you step across the threshold, it ends when you feel at home again. Enjoy being back in Seattle - it may not be all the rest of the world rolled into one, but it's a pretty nice city.

  3. this reminds me of my room when i moved back from France. I was not gone as long as you were. I was gone 6 months. But the room felt every bit as foreign to me. The person who lived there was every bit a stranger to me.

    I never did feel comfortable in that room again. And I haven't felt comfortable or at "home" until a few years ago. It is quite disconcerting.

    I'm glad you're back. I know you've seen a lot of crazy exciting things in your travels but don't forget all the cool shit we have here in seattle. Just try to keep busy for now.

  4. hey Joel,
    Some mixed feelings here :).
    Andra and I are a bit sad to hear about the ending of your awesome adventure. We enjoyed reading your high quality posts. Also, we often discussed about your experiences and - like Claire - we were used to get the constant updates.
    On the other hand, maybe it was time to start something even greater. Not intended to sound pressuring :), but you seem like destined for great things.

    Thanks for everything and good luck in whatever is next! We'll be waiting for some new constant updates :).