Musings on a Life of Travel

Crisis averted.

Welcome to the ups and downs of my life. Now you now what it’s really like living the jet-setting life: terrifying. You’ve been warned. You’ve tasted the depths of my despair. One day you’ll be walking on air, the next day you’ll be plummeted into hopelessness so deep you want to disappear under the covers and awaken to find yourself seven years old and at home in bed.

Why do we do it? Maybe we’re adrenaline junkies, but I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed much of the lows. No, it’s that the lower those lows are, the higher the highs will be. The greater the small victories seem. A phone call the day after seeing an apartment from a landlord who was so French she couldn’t even smile to ask if we’re still interested seems like the coup of the century. Emails back promising nothing but viewings are cause for elation. Responses from potential employers wanting to set up interviews means it’s time to splurge on a cupcake or croissant. Every feeling is experienced anew, every lesson learned for the first time. One has never felt so utterly depressed and trapped, nor has the world ever seemed so full of possibility.

But then, I’ve always been on the emotional side, so perhaps I just feel it all more acutely.

On Thursday, a Spanish woman asked me if all Americans are as crazy as I am, traveling all over the place, eschewing job/financial/housing security. I laughed. Clearly she hasn’t met that many Americans. Or that many people who travel a lot, even though she herself has lived in several major European cities. I wonder when I’ll be ready for that security so many others crave and build their lives on, or if I ever will. I thought I was getting there in the last few weeks, but it wasn’t security I wanted so much as stability, and the knowledge that I would be in the same place (house, really) for more than a transient period of time. Not to be living out of a suitcase. The ability to build a routine and a life of my own, just the way I want it. The more I think about it, though, and the more concrete the reality of staying here for a little while becomes, the more I realize that I’ve been creating my own stability for a long time now. I spent six weeks in Turkey this summer – mostly in Istanbul – and I had a nice little stable life of my own. Willa and I spent two and a bit weeks in Dharamsala, and we definitely had a stable little life routine. California is always easiest, because the stability is there waiting for me to step back into it whenever I arrive, and it’s nice to know that I have that there whenever I need to press the reset button, but it is slowly becoming less and less my stability to have.

Whenever I complain about something being difficult, my dad says that nothing worth having is easily gotten, and I’ll appreciate it more for the hard work I put in; much as I hate to say it, he’s right, as usual. My own stability, which I am building from the ground up right now, will be that much better for all the pain, despair, and tears that have gone into it. Perhaps it will even be more stable, I don’t know. Stay tuned in the coming months to find out, if you can handle the mood swings.

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