- To ride my planned route with renewed purpose and enthusiasm, using the knowledge that Tenny, my girlfriend, is awaiting my return to guide me when the going gets tough.
- To return to Iran with less doubt, more experience, and a fresh outlook on the world and my future, friends and family.
- To live every day like it’s my last, fighting complacency, ignorance and the denial of responsibility.
- To question every day my reasons for living the life I’ve chosen — and if the answers don’t make sense any more, to do something about it.
- To use and spread my passions in a positive way, sharing tough lessons and beautiful moments rather than keeping them jealously for myself.
Above all, I need to find the answer to the question: Am I doing the right thing?
As Tenny sits on the plane to Tehran, wondering how long it’s going to be before she sees me again, I sit alone in my strangely quiet and somehow lonely home. For most of the last 12 months I’ve had someone at my side, and life has been all the richer for close sharing.
My ambitions from long ago have put Tenny on that flight. Over five years since a dream to experience a monstrous, life-consuming, romantic adventure — on a bike, of all things — began to take shape. She knew little of it until our relationship clarified in early 2008 when the journey had been underway for eight months, but now, a year later, off she goes to sit it out, to let me get it all out of my system. I don’t know whether to thank her, or to knock myself out for my stubborn selfishness. Is it right to put love on hold?
The question has pestered me for months, and now the answer lies somewhere along a long, lonely, hot and dusty road through lands not so well travelled. From Istanbul to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Yemen, Oman, UAE and Iran, my road leads me back to the city I left only two months ago. I tentatively expect it to take around four or five months, but in all honesty, I cannot know what is going to happen.
If the answer is yes, and it turns out that this trip is what I must do at this point in my single short lifetime, I’ll stock up on winter gear in Tehran and head north and east, away again from my love and towards the wild desolation of Central and North-East Asia. I can’t justify an easy ride, and my interests don’t currently lie in the dense, orgiastic human forests of the world. The idea that people live out their whole lives in the most extreme and remote conditions our planet can offer intrigues me no end. But eventually, after exploring these far-flung pockets of life, I guess my road will lead me back to Armenia, where I’ll be reunited with the driving force that is making this journey happen after all.
If the answer is no, I’ll turn round and take the path that I’d put off until another day. Either way, it’s a long way back to her.
My backpack is waiting in the next room. The last items to pack are due imminently, then I’ll walk out of my front door, stick out my thumb, and trust the process. I’m going not just for the ride, for the adventure; but to look for answers that I can’t find by staying at home.
I’ll be in touch.