Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Out in the Middle of the Ocean

Why do I feel like I need to run to the end of the earth inorder to figure life out?  Now that I've been abroad and back home, then abroad, and back home again, the meaning of all of it is getting all misconstrued.  While being an expat is exciting and liberating in the moment, and even reflecting back on the experience, being home again in extremely daunting and even a little depressing.  The things I need to make me feel better back here are the very things that also make me feel slightly worse.  Being with my friends is great, and knowing that they are here for me still is extremely comforting, but almost all of them have advanced remarkably in a life I fled from.  They are becoming more established in their careers and they all have families on the forfront.  I can't beleive how many of my girlfriends are sporting bling on their ring finger and even a couple of little ones!  While I resist the urge to be influenced by this, I can't help but notice that I'm perpetually the loner and the more I go away, the less we can relate to eachother.  Even though I have a person in my life I love very much, we can't have a life like they all do, comfortable and normal... and together!  My person is thousands of miles away with no clear veiw of when or if that will change. 

So I feel the weight of it all bearing down on me like a ton of bricks.  In my own mind, uninfluenced by all of these factors, I still believe I am young and free and have a window of opportunity to live this way.  But what's the point of it all, living abroad and bouncing around, if it keeps me from having this happy future that I can see in the lives of so many of my friends?  The truth is I want to have certain things I gave up very much, but I don't know if it's enough to pull me away from my expat adventures.  And deciding anything in the confines of my parents house in Raleigh, NC is virtually impossible.  It's clear what they are thinking and what they want for me. 

How does one decide?  How can I choose between two lives I passionately desire but are remarkably different in virtually every respect?  Maybe there is some kind of compromise, a city in the US that lights me up, a job that still takes me abroad... I can reach out for advice and hope that some external influence decides for me, but the truth is, this puzzle is mine to figure out.  I have faith that the answer will come, I can feel it deep inside of me, but for now I partly feel like I am still floating out there.  It's like my life abroad was a little island out in the ocean, far away from the main land, and now I'm beginning to swim away from that island and now I can see both the island and the mainland but I am far from both, out in the middle of an ocean of mystery.  I'll get to land eventually, but I don't know which way to swim or what I'll find when I arrive. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

When Is Enough Enough?

I think this is a question that many other wanderers, vagabonds, and expats contemplate from time to time.  Even while the exciting life of living abroad is underway, there are3 always several moments of acknowledgement to it's temporary nature.  I think something that is overlooked when taking a step as I did is what comes next, once that inner desire to have an adventure has somewhat faded and the longing for being somewhere comfortable where a career that can flourish is becoming more pronounced.  Now that I'm back, taking a momentary pause in my Spain experience, I can't help but face this question full on.  I've been away from that more conventional life for almost two years now and the idea of coming back to it, at least to a degree, is becoming more real, more pressing, yet more palatable.  I've missed certain things that I took for granted before like my friends and family and all the things I worked so hard for before.  So what now?  I uprooted myself for a reason and I know my journey overseas is not finished.  While being home comes with great comfort, my passion lies abroad, discovering different cultures and places, and the idea of only getting the opportunity to return to foreign lands in the confines of a two week vacation truly makes me nauseous.   So that brings me to that question: when is enough enough?  When will I be okay with turning back and facing the life I left behind?  It won't be the same life, but I'll have to reemerge into a world that I shunned for so long.  And to do that in a sluggish economy, be competitive for work, return to the rat race... I'm still not ready for that reality. 

I suppose I have a short term plan, to return to Spain and continue on teaching my language and acquiring theirs.  Further complications I've added to my plate like my increasingly serious relationship and my rapidly growing connection to living like a Spaniard, are also issues I will soon need to face.  This is just one of those defining times in life when change is inevitable and while it's surely going to be a painful process, I need to remember that like many others who depart from their day to day life to experience something entirely different, it is worth it.  I'll find my own way to ingrain myself back into American culture and face that fear of being settled.  Once all of this is in my past, I'll have the memories of poignant moments, the photos of incredible places, the bonds with those I shared the experience with, to always go back to and remember fondly.  And who knows, maybe I'll find a way to combine career with international travel, being in a community at home and integrating myself into societies abroad.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Ode to Boone

This weekend I finally returned to my beloved university town of Boone, NC.  Good ole Appalachian State, where it all began.  Up in the High Country things change subtlety year after year, but it still remains the Boone I remember in my eyes.  Sunday, after all the excitement of wedding festivities and reunions, I had a chance to perch up in my old favorite coffee shop, right in the very spot where I crammed for countless exams, escaping from the confines of my apartment or the library.  I found my favorite spot, right by the window upstairs, and even though the chairs were different and the people surrounding me were fresh students, it still was incredibly comforting to be right back in my Espresso News.  Writing has been more challenging lately with so many question marks about life and so much change occurring all at once, but being back up in the fresh air and surrounded by my old school finally made the words flow onto paper.  Just driving into the small downtown, walking up King Street, hearing the chatter of the students adorning their yellow and black for home game weekend, and seeing the peaks of the campus buildings surrounded by the mountain tops took me back to a mind set of being right there with them.  I can remember how bright eyed and enthusiastic I was, the possibilities of post college so vast, my mind set on a specific path that I was massively motivated by...

Well things have changed remarkably since then, but I can still reclaim that feeling as I settle back in to the atmosphere.  Boone will always be home in many ways, even after everyone I've ever known has moved away and when a much longer span of time has past, this will still have a part of me captivated.  It is one place that, regardless of the ridiculousness that often ensued in those naive college days, will always make me feel whole again and remind me I always have my little corner of the world to rest and just be.  I've ventured to many new locations, seen many beautiful cities and scenes, but there is something spectacular about these mountains that grab me in a unique way.  The beaches of the Canary Islands that I recently returned from have incredibly blue water and breathtaking views; the five towns of Cinque Terre, Italy adorn the vast green hills and traditional, modest, colorful homes; iconic landmarks fill the streets of Paris and Rome.  But there is something enchanting and timeless about these Appalachian Mountains.  And as much as I run off in search of my next place to call home, a new city to embrace, and as long as I seek out new awe inspiring images offered all over the globe, these mountain ranges and humble towns will never fail to impress me and leave me feeling refreshed.  It's my own personal connection that seems to only ripen with the years.  I love this town, this school, and these mountains, and I will always return to it, no matter how much it changes or what new places I venture off to.