Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Second Thoughts (Again)

I know this is a tired topic. Most recently, it's been addressed by Brave New Traveler editor Christine Garvin in Are Long-Term Travelers Avoiding "Real" Life? That post, in turn, was inspired by a musing from Nomadic Matt, Everyone Says I'm Running Away.

The theme survives because of its foundational relevance to travelers, I guess. Or because there are no answers to the questions. But either way, sitting here in the bedroom I grew up in, I feel I've now come back to "real life." And real life is hard.

I want to buy a house, but I don't have much money. That means I'll be buying a small, rundown bungalow in an iffy neighborhood and spending lots of hours bringing it up to my vision of acceptability. I'll be meeting with loan officers, learning how to hang sheetrock, building furniture and running wires, figuring and following a sustainable budget. All this seems very hard.

Wouldn't it be easier to get lost again? Pick a new quadrant of Earth and go? There's more out there. And it doesn't involve table saws, pre-qual letters, going into debt for the first time in my life. Which baits the big questions--is travel running away? Avoiding responsibility? Postponing entry into "real" life?

I was so anxious to get back here. Ready for stability, I thought. What does this mean? Will I always feel restless wherever I am?

No answers. And I've gotta stop, because I feel like a major douche waxing existential when people in Haiti and thousands of other places that aren't in the news and never will be would kill for the luxury of waxing existential. But those are the questions I'm asking tonight.

12 comments:

Kathy Amen said...

I wish I had words of wisdom to make these decisions easier for you. But all I can offer is:

1) I'm VERY glad you're home; and
2) it's not your fault that some people in the world have worse problems than you. We all just have to deal with what problems we're dealt. It *is* a luxury to be able to have existential questions but you still have to deal with those questions! although
3) sometimes just living day-to-day can ease the existential problems into solutions....

Candice said...

Never a tired topic!

All I can say is, if it feels right, do it.

Anonymous said...

Keep traveling. Don't settle down until you're 40

Lauren Quinn said...

I think it totally depends on the person: travel can be running away, but so can staying in one place. That is, travel makes us confront things about ourselves, gets us out of our comfort zones, forces us to be present, in a way that home doesn't. And that's effing hard and scary too.

Either way, I think you're in the right place. As long as you keep writing. :)

hal said...

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Feeling more grounded today. Feeling I'm in the right place.

Abbie said...

I like to think we're always right where we're supposed to be... if someone offered you a trip around the world, maybe it's a hint you jump on it, though lol.

Sabina said...

I'm glad to hear you were feeling better about your decision the day after you wrote this. You can always settle for a while, then get going again. Houses aren't built to last forever.

yesthereissuchathingasastupidquestion said...

Once you get it up to snuff, you can rent it out and augment your travel budget. Right?

hal said...

@Kate: That's the plan!

David Miller said...

tablesaws.

Sarah Irving said...

Hey Hal,
just following you from Matador! Really liked this post - as someone else says above, it's not your fault that terrible things happen to other people - especially if you're doing things that try to make things less unjust for yet another set of people.
But you've got a tough one on your mind there, and the grass is always greener. But for what it's worth... I'm 33 (but not for much longer...). I bought a house 6 1/2 years ago, my lifelong desire for stability spurred by a really grim couple of years where I'd been working in Palestine during some major invasions, got injured blah blah blah, and didn't really cope too well after I came back. It was what I could afford, i.e. in the kind of neighbourhood where people go Oh! when you say when you live. Possibly followed by, That's brave! But I love it here (and no-one's been shot in the neighbourhood in a good while now), and actually in some ways it has freed me up. I no longer have to think about packing up my crap and finding somewhere to stash it when I move out of some rented place to go travelling - and it helps that now most of my travelling is at least partly paid for by pitching work, and is also tax-deductible. Even now, with my husband & I planning to head to Australia for a year to spend time with his folks, finding someone to house/cat sit is looking easier than it would be to find a temporary home for all our sxxxxxg books.
I suppose my point is that it's not necessarily either/or. Sometimes having something to come back to can be quite liberating. And shitty neighbourhoods can have their upsides :-) (although I might think differently if we were going to have kids).

hal said...

@Sarah: I really appreciate your sharing your story here. It's actually very reassuring--thanks! Have you written about your ordeal in Palestine anywhere?