My very first blog post on this site was a strongly worded declaration about how tired of travelling I was; how the act of moving around no longer held the same allure it once had. I am through, I effectively stated, with travel.
Someone should have been there to tell me to sleep on it before publishing. And, much like when you do heed this advice, I feel myself today reconsidering that statement as if I’ve woken up from a particularly long sleep.
When I wrote that I was essentially retiring from travel back at the end of October I really meant it. I had unexpectedly pulled out of the trip to India that we’d been planning since April of the same year and I had decided to come back to this village. It was about as anti – a – travel stance as I could have adopted.
So I’ve been wondering why, from nowhere, the desire to go has been creeping up on me for the last number of days. On Thursday last week I checked an international jobs board for the first time in months; I found myself reconsidering my decision to settle down and I questioned whether or not I am truly finished with movement in my life.
Though cuttingly black and white with the decisions of others, I torture myself with my indecision. There should probably be something in my blog bio about how much I want to have a house of my own and to build it from scratch in the middle of nowhere, preferably on an island (not Ireland), close to the beach. Yet when I am offered the chance to settle down I can’t imagine myself – as I am right now – being able, never mind contented, in doing just that.
From the beach in Fuerteventura, from my bed in Las Palmas, from the window in my shared home in England, during a street party in Barcelona, even watching the sun failing to rise as spectacularly as we had hoped it might over Chiang Mai, Thailand, I have always wondered what else there was in some other corner of the world.
This curiosity is dampened magnificently by my very millennial anxiety. I am approaching thirty- I should have a house and I should be thinking about children. More than feeling that I should be, I want to be. These are concerns that weigh on my mind because of their importance to me.
It can be hard for others to understand. With increasing frequency my friends have pushed a coaster or a serviette to me in a restaurant and told me to just write out what I want. I have responded with whatever narrative feels right at the time.
That’s it I think. There are two very different narratives that I feel my life could follow. I can settle and I can do it now. With that settling will come the stability of place that I do wish for and the money that I can save in order to free myself of needing to work as a full-time, burnt out teacher for the rest of my life. Settling for two years in order to make this a reality doesn’t seem like much a sacrifice.
Running alongside that is the very real possibility that in settling I will find myself in a similar situation to the past: where I thought that what I needed to feel comfortable was money. Following what I perceived as the “path to stability” lead me conversely to realise that I was so far removed from what the universe had meant for me that I barely managed to keep myself above water. For the first time in my life I knew myself to be deeply unhappy.
So I could do what I’ve been thinking about all day. I could tell my boyfriend I need some time for myself. Ours is a relationship blessed with the knowledge that in order to succeed the space for individual growth is essential. I could take myself off – more ready for it now than I have been in the past – and explore the world that I feel drawn to on my terms. My heart tells me that this is what would be good for me.
I live by the idea that past behaviour is the best predictor of future actions. But, using that as my reference, I am likely to run into regret no matter which path I take. If I pursue the settled path then, as before, I may realise that money and stability as we traditionally understand them don’t mean all that much to me. Likewise, if I go the way of the perpetual traveller there is a high chance of me craving all that I have turned away from.
It may be necessary to leave what I have thought before in the past. With life’s ability to change so rapidly perhaps the standard of living I should set myself is not to look too far into the future and to do only that which feels right, right now. If only I could be sure that in making a decision I wouldn’t be asking to be upset or let down.
When I was in school one of the questions that would regularly come up on the English paper was some version of:
How does x poet so successfully create vivid imagery in his work?
I remember once writing a full essay on how x poet hadn’t created any successful imagery in my opinion. The essay that I handed was a second copy – a corrected one – which followed the conventions for answering and it received an A. But I wonder readers about what might have happened had I handed in the unconventional essay which, though full of risk, was more passionate and answered the question as only I could have answered it.
After all, there is one grade higher than an A.