So, I happened to book a few weekend trips that would give me just over 24 hours in my destination. I’ve observed that when I’m alone, I often get to everything I want to see, and begin to feel bored, within this period of time, so it seemed logical. Also, sometimes there is nothing more refreshing than getting on a plane and landing somewhere else. Really. Knowing that a new land is right there before your eyes and anything can happen.
But the truth is, if we open our hearts, anything can happen anywhere, anytime, and there is no need to get on a plane.
Getting on a plane can be an act of freedom, but it can also be something less than that- a withdrawal, an escape, a mask that enables you to remain a stranger, a one night stand.
When I left Paris to continue my studies in the US and Asia, literally going around the world, I figured it made sense to see if somewhere else would capture my heart. Even now, there seems to be new possibility glittering somewhere else, be it in London or Hong Kong or Dubai. And maybe Paris will not be the only place I ever live in my life from this point on. But when I really think about it, I don’t want to move. Even if I’ve seen the streets a million times, and things are not new in the same way. Even if it makes me another boring person who stays in the same place forever.
Sometimes I have gap year kid envy. Icould have done something like a gap year, although not in such an unconstrained fashion, but I chose not to because I felt the pressure to build a career. ANd the truth is that I did want, and do want, to build a career. THis is something that the romantic side of myself tries to deny, but can’t escape. It’snot ust because I have student loans that I continue to do the work that I do, it is because I genuinely like it. And the more I apply myself, the more I like and even love it. That’s not something I counted on.
It’s always hard for me to look at the road not taken and all the lives I’ll never lead. But the truth is that I think the life I have, with all the mistakes that I’ve made, is still the best one, probably.
The enormity of the fact that I could indeed live in France indefinitely, in Paris, just hit me. THere is no need to spend 24 hours in Seville when I could spend a lazy week there. There is no need to act as though I’m going to leave Europe and will never get another chance, that I’ll never have a vacation day. Because I have about 32 per year, not counting public holidays, which is mind boggling. Even considering I will use some to go home to see my family. Just wow.
There is more to feeling alive than a new city, a new country.
There is more to feeling alive than a new direction.
I think the direction I have taken is indeed the right one, and while at the moment i’m not getting paid for my memoirs or travel writing, I have a life that almost 500 people are happy to read about, and an idea for another blog.
Sometimes I ask myself why I don’t start a professional travel or lifestyle or whatever blog, and the truth is that I don’t need to. I think I need creative outlets, and being valued for my creativity is something I really yearn for. And yet, creativity comes in my forms.
Including spending a weekend at home and cleaning, which is what I really need to do.
Every time I clean my room my life changes, so we’ll see how it goes.
I’m more afraid of the change from getting my life in order than I am of getting on a plane and spending 36 hours in Istanbul by myself. I am more afraid of enjoying the place I live in, and trying to make friends and be accepted here, than I am of depending on the kindness of strangers in a foreign city where I don’t speak the language.
But there’s no need for that, because I do have friends here, I do have people to call up on the spur of the moment, I do have a lovely apartment that there’s even a TV now to veg out too, I do have goals and dreams that require staying stationary.
And most of all, I do love Paris.
Even if I don’t really understand why, and it has very little if anything to do with the Eiffel Tower or any of the landmarks that represent the city to other people. Even if sometimes the people are horrid. Even if coming here and back again has caused me to break myself down completely, and build up a new self.
I will not use travel and novelty as a drug to avoid the life I really want to be living- surrounded by friends, busy, productive, and in love with Paris and hopefully someone from here. I don’t have a life I need to escape from at all. I have to get over my shyness, and just show up for the life I have, and not think I am meant to be somewhere else.
Because I am not. Every feeling I am trying to escape will follow me anywhere I go, as was the case when I thought my inner conflicts would end when I moved to Paris. THey didn’t, and the Paris I moved to was not the same as the one I remembered. And yet, there’s no place I would rather be, and that makes me feel really vulnerable, so much so that I have done so much to avoid doing the things that I want, being the person I really want to be.
I can do it, I can show up in my life, I can stay, and experience the satisfaction that can only come from commitment. I can stay, and find the joy within myself.