Hampi gave me time to think.
At breakfast time sitting in a bright blue pleathered, teeny tiny train compartment beside an incredibly hungry Gujarati family, my silent glares fighting them and their steel dabbas of oniony smells off and away from my precious window space.
Early morning, recovering from the shock of 7 school girls, all bigs eyes, long braids, and skinny legs jumping into my moving auto-rickshaw for a free ride to school, as I clutch my luggage to my chest and pray that I won't be held responsible if one of them falls out.
Midmorning, sitting on the grass, laughing as the village kids try to ride my bicycle and keep ending up in giggly squiggly heaps on the small square of playground, tugging at my feet, at my hair, at my fingers and at my nose saying-“Ao na! Khelo na! Ao na!”
Noon, lying on a wooden swing facing teardrop shaped rice fields, each one perfectly cradling the next, and palm trees everywhere and to my half opened eyes- everything is washed with the greenest, calmest, coolest of greens.
Teatime, wiping the sweat off my forehead and clenching my fists as I will my terribly-sore-from-all-that-crossfit calves to keep going, as I lunge past auntyjis, unclejis, honeymooners and very sunburnt tourists, taking mental photographs of every could-have-been composition that I'm too single minded to stop and take, repeating to myself that the view from the top will be oh-so-beautiful and oh-so-worth it, that I'm almost there if I just keep hitting the stairs and ignoring the stares.
Dusk, looking over the entire region overflowing with monsoon lushness and Joshua Tree-esque pink pebbly boulders, laughing a deep true soulful laugh into the blazing orange horizon, a laugh that comes from the happiness of being free and feeling so fucking alive.
Sunset, skipping rocks on the banks of the torrential Tungabhadra river with the most mature 18 year old I've ever met, as content as I am to climb the rocks in silence and only occasionally swap passing thoughts, pointing to interesting plants, and jumping back and forth from the shore to the islets.
Dinnertime watching the stars whirl above me and my arms fly beside me as I spin under the great open sky with new friends who feel like old friends, who seem to understand the life I hope to live, and share the dreams that I just can't stop dreaming, counting how many stars to fill up the sky, and how many gulps of fresh, monsoon air to fill my thirsty lungs.
Bedtime, as the train finally chugs away from Hospet station, rocking me to sleep as it criss-crosses through village, town and city, leaving my three precious days in Hampi, only ever to relived via shitty memory card contents and heady drinks of nostalgia.
And so I thought, and now I'm home. A big, strong, scary word that I could never bring myself to use, but one that has never felt more right. So simple. Home.