Saturday, June 19, 2010

Itchy Travel Feet

FYI--This was written in two parts: pre and post work.

"She kind of got stuck in her life, she waited too long..."

I overheard that in a stranger's random conversation while waiting for the train this morning. I don't know exactly what they were referring to, but it definitely describes one of my biggest fears: that it will be too late to do any of the things that I want to in life by the time that I (A) fix my body, (B) save up enough money, (C) work up enough nerve to do it, and, the big one (D) I figure out what exactly it is that I want. I'm afraid that I'll be stuck in my current job forever without ever doing work that actually matters. I've heard many of the people that have worked in sales for 10+ years say that, at some point they just stopped looking for something else and they just kind of ended up staying in sales...but they're not really happy with it. They just passed that point where they could make a change; that point where they're still relatively unattached and free. What do I want so badly right now, that I'm afraid I'll never get a chance to do again? TRAVEL. When am I ever going to be at this point in my life again? When I'm almost completely unattached. I have no boyfriend, no children, no pets. I've been living with minimal contact with my family for years. I'm not in school any more. I'm not in a job that I like. I'm also not locked into this job. It may feel like it, but I know that I could drop it the second that I wanted to and felt like I could, without putting myself in a place that's obviously worse off than where I am now. I'm not in a contract at my job and I'm not such an integral player that it makes a huge difference whether or not I'm there (as I would if I were a manager or something). There is almost nothing holding me here. I could say "my foot," but how long have I been living with that?! I could certainly manage living with a less than perfect foot, though it would definitely make traveling much easier if it were healthy and strong. The only thing I have to be accountable for is me and my student loans--that one "thing" that still holds me to society and says "you still have to work and earn money."

"It's time to go, I know. I've hung out in the sun long enough that wonder has turned into routine...All the signs are telling me: Move on."

I read that a little over a month ago in an article from the May 2010 issue of the National Geographic Traveler. It was an article titled, "Parting is such sweet sorrow," by Daisann McLane, and in that author's point of view, leaving a place is the "most emotionally intense thing" that travelers do. And I can understand that. You travel someplace completely new and then adapt to a new way of living, often discovering things about yourself and about life that you never would have prior to traveling to that place. In a way, it seems like locations become a part of who you are: California girl, Arizona desert rat...and they carry certain traits with them as well. Whenever I'm back in Cali, I feel that little bit of a tougher side showing through (I was more inland and it was anything but laid-back). Arizona is where I was more laid back and where I cultivated my love for the outdoors, the stars, and my "small town girl," (though my co-workers here would refer to it more as being naive). And Boston...Boston is the "city," where I learned to treasure my communication and connection with complete strangers. Boston is also a wonderfully unique city where history exists alongside the present. You can see it in the old "Puritan" laws that residents hate but refuse to give up; and in the historical buildings whose history was determined to be so important that it's original face cannot be changed (like the "post office" in South Boston that hadn't been one in over 50 years but still said "post office" on the front of the building).

Most importantly, I feel, Boston is where I started getting a glimpse of the vast world that exists outside the United States. Boston is where my adventurous traveler finally had a chance to come out and play. I loved the days where I could just hop on the subway or commuter rail and get off and wander around somewhat aimlessly...just to see a new place. I also learned how much fun and how incredibly rewarding it is to explore new places on your own. For some reason, it seems like people think that if a person (especially a younger woman) travels alone, bad things will absolutely happen. But you know what, I've only ever uncovered kindness. I find that traveling and exploring on your own lets you experience things in a completely different way, because you're not going by someone else's schedule or hearing their point of view. A good example for me is hiking. I much prefer to hike a new place on my own, as "dangerous" as it may be. I go slower, explore my surroundings more, take more pictures and I take more breaks to just stop and absorb the world around me. When I'm with someone else, we tend to move faster and notice less. Basically, you get to experience and see a new place through your own eyes first. And I've come to find that I usually treasure that experience more than when I visited a new area with someone else first. Though it is nice to be able to share the experience with others...that's what pictures are for :-)

It definitely feels like it is time to leave Boston, "wonder has turned to routine," and I feel that pull to pick up and venture out to new places...far away from the U.S. I've even been venturing away from the one "thing" that I thought would be the hardest to leave--my yoga studio. There are amazing and unique teachers here who could never be replaced, but I have a feeling that I will never be too far from a good yoga teacher/studio. Take the knowledge, leave the attachments. I've been trying to remind myself of that for these past few months because I know that I have a tendency to cling on to things that feel safe, secure and comfortable even if they're hurting me or holding me back (like my 6-day a week Ashtanga practice that was damaging my knees). It's not time to leave just yet (as in the next few months) but I feel like it's definitely soon. There's just nothing left for me here. But, until that time comes, for now, for this moment, I'm simply enjoying being exactly where I am: laying out on a blanket on my roof listening to the sounds of the birds and the wind in the trees, mixing with the sounds of cars, buses and my neighbors' voices; while savoring the smell of the restaurant below me and delighting in a spectacular sunset, bringing the end to a particularly beautiful Boston summer day.

~~~Don't ever let anyone tell you that city sunsets are boring :-)

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