I've already passed the quarter of a century mark and yet since I've left home I've never lived in one place for more than 2 years. I've been running back and forth between college and home, graduate school and bartending, and now Korea and Europe. As I've set my eyes on the next path I've never considered that destination as anything more than a year or two stopover on my way to the next thing.
It's weird to think that many of my friends are becoming married, having children, moving in with their significant others, planting roots. Not weird in any sort of a judgmental sense, just different from what I've been doing. What I am doing. What I will be doing.
There's nothing novel about this. I'm not trying to romanticize the feeling either. It's not some sort of dramatic, adventurous, and enticing life style. I'm not privileged enough to never have concerns about finances, or to be able to go literally anywhere I want. I don't subscribe to the sickening philosophy of wanderlust, romantic solo treks for the sole purpose of self-fulfillment, or some sort of skewed perception of what it actually means to live abroad for a long period of time. I don't cast shade on my friends who have stability, who have bought homes, new cars, and Haustieren. I wish I had a dog. I had just purchased a brand new car before I impulsively decided to leave the country a year and a half ago. There are nights where I want to be home, near my family, with my old friends.
But that's not what I do. Or rather, that's not what I've been doing and what my life has become. This is why even now, as I book a ticket to Europe, I am doing mental acrobatics as I try to wrap my mind around the idea that I will be staying there for a while. For the foreseeable future. For an extended period of time. This is why these thoughts are borderline incomprehensible to me. At my undergrad I lived in the dorms for two years, two different rooms, at the house of a friend's uncle, in a worn down old house with three friends that was condemned and torn down the year after I graduated. After this I went to graduate school where I lived in the same apartment for two years, the longest time in one place since high school. I'm finishing a year in Korea about to run away to Stuttgart. I set up countdowns, set my sights on the future, and have internalized the most efficient method of counting down my time while simultaneously enjoying myself and making it fly by extraordinarily fast.
Even 12+ hour flights have lost their dreary drag and lengthy exhaustion. Now I get on the plane and have internalized the process: take off, ten minutes to seatbelt sign off, ten minutes to water or snacks, naptime, movie time, naptime, writing, a meal, naptime, writing, another drink (maybe wine this time), a movie or two, another meal, another movie, seatbelt sign on, landing. I don't look at my watch, I just wait for the flight attendants to signal what stage of the trip we are on - are they giving out drinks or food? have they passed out landing cards, arrival cards, customs declarations? are they waking people up to set their seats at 90 degrees to prepare for the decent? - and I resign myself to a weary half-asleep slumber mixed in with brief moments of clarity, writing, observation.
The skill of making time fly by seems to be coming with age, which makes sense. When you're 8 you've only seen 8 summers come and go, so that three month period between May and September feels like the greatest extended vacation. As we get older we try to grasp onto these brief spans of time that are feeling shorter and shorter in comparison to the months that we have lived. This may be why I could look you in the eye and say that one year isn't a long time to be on different continents from my boyfriend. This might explain my shameless desire to just run away to another side of the world for a little while. 12 months is nothing. 365 days is brief in comparison to the 9,371 that I've lived.
But here I am, landing seasonal positions in a country that I want to call my home. Booking tickets to an area where the language barrier will be more than a temporary annoyance, where I want and need to immerse myself and become fluent because I will be there for more than a year. Here I am trying to find a way to create stability in my life. Here I am, trying to move forward by planting roots somewhere.
And yet here I am, wondering if the moment I get where I want to be going I can't spend more than a year or two in that place before feeling the itch to move on. How do you find a place and stay there, how do you avoid wondering what it would be like somewhere else? Without the finances to travel the world on lengthy vacations?
I suppose it all depends on who I'm with, how I feel, and whether the place that I'm going is indeed where I want to be.
It all depends on my future definition of "me."