Conflict im referring to involves more desire to be in Ash company again revealing clear enthusiasm and happiness when she met him and Brock in her both cameos(she was especially glad when Ash proposed that she travels with him and co on her way to Cerulean) and continuing to travel in order to achieve her dreams with gym not providing enough experience and outlet to become water master . Involving reaching heights of E4 members developing techniques and experience you cant at gym(something Cilan realized with traveling and meeting various experts allowing to learn about more creative strategies), enter tournaments like Whirl Cup was proving through prof. Elm and sea priestess Maya dialogue how there exists competitions through which you can advance water master career making name for yourself and learn from other water specialists.
But at same time even though judging by her expressions in hosos she would rather travel in Ash company again having her own dreamt, she also feels its her obligation and duty to take care of gym and help sisters out to prevent it(her home)ending closed due to their carefree attitude. Feeling she dont have much choice currently but to stay and do her best until substitute is found or one of her sisters becomes more engaged in case she wants to go on journey and step up from current position in future.
I notced many people refer to Misty and Ash position as relationship on distance until their lifepaths cross each other again.
I think best chance for Misty return at least semi permanently lies in filler arcs like Orange Islands, BF or Decolora was. They are much less focused on game promotion like main regions are, with writers having more liberty in including older characters back. Generally they have more references to past,older pokemon are more promoted etc. Increasing Misty chances to return and help advertize new things through her presence. Not being tied to any region like main protagonists are being easier to transfer gym leaders from games to any region as Brock case kinda proved, and flexibillity of her water dream allowing to be taken in several directions not depending on game assets but coming from writers imagination since its anime exclusive thing.
With story arc of going on quest to become E4 or their apprentice after proving her worth through tournaments opening logical way to progress from current position and come closer toward water master title, making sense if her story clash with Ash's at that point. Renewing that fiery competitoion between those two and measure each other strength becoming more powerful and skilled since last time they met. Lot could have changed in meantime and Misty definitely deserves such high position being acknowledged and recognized as true water expert accomplishing her dreams, while for change receiving support from Ash and encouagement in possible fear of failing to meet other expectations and if she belongs there.
I think it would be endearing to see them meet each other after so long when they could both push each other story and restore on dynamic. Imo reason why their interactions were always so spontaneous, humorous and built with tension, emotion and lot of mutual suppot was because of those two sharing quite a few traits being similar yet so different in several aspects). Renforcing further belief how "opposites attract".