I’m sitting in a coffee shop in Oxford, England.  There are five other people besides myself in this small second-floor café.  Most are students, one might be a professor.  Radiohead is playing from the ceiling, which is also plastered with old movie posters.  The walls are pink and black.
A couple of girls are complaining about their roommates.  Two others are reading books and one is constantly texting.  Out the window is a small covered market not unlike the ones in Japan, yet completely different.  If I close my eyes, I can see the trees and sky of Ko Samui, Thailand but when I open them again I feel the cold winter coming in the windows.  My coat feels heavy on my shoulders and I cannot remember what the warm sun feels like.  It’s been winter forever.
I walk from the covered market to High Street. It is bustling with cars, buses, bicycles, scooters, and the footfall of hurried students and consumers.  Cathedral bells ring somewhere in the distance, a strange and new sound for me but a daily annoyance for others.  People yap on cell phones and Bluetooth headsets, and occasionally to the air itself.  Clocks tell the time everywhere but this does not console anyone; there is always too much to do.
I stand near a tall and ornate church spire and look.  People walk by.  People stop.  Some take pictures.  Others scowl at the standing people.  Others seem amused.  Those who take pictures look at the spire but some will never see it.  Sometimes, a crowd appears with a guide; they hurry off quickly.  Public Transportation runs to and fro, carrying tired faces before noon.  If I put in my headphones, the world drops away and I’m left with a silent moving picture to accompany my personal soundtrack.  This can be helpful.
Sometimes I long for the familiar bed and security I’ve not known for two years.  Other times I long for the ever-present warmth of Asian shores.  These are fleeting longings, however; being happy in the moment is important.  I am always mindful to keep the peace within that I have pieced together in a dozen countries. To lose that would be to lose all that I’ve gained.  If I return home and pick up where I left off, what has been the use aside from some anecdotal stories?
One week to go.

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. In 2018 he published his first book, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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