I travel because I’m impatient. I don’t want to wait for my life to start. I know what I want now, and I want to seize it now. What I want now might not be what I want next year – so I might as well realize my current dream.
And man, am I living in the moment. I just left my Spanish school in El Lagartillo this afternoon, and now I’m camped out in a hostel in Estelí. No work or, really, any plans to speak of. I’m reaching out to NGOs and nearby farms, but for now I’m pretty much rootless. And I’m supposedly here in Nica until December. Ok, cool.
I have seriously never been in this position before. My life is totally open-ended. It’s a bit unnerving, like being on the open sea for the first time. No coast in sight, sailing off the edge of the map.
And I find myself planning a home on the bit of land that I don’t even know I’ll encounter on this wandering ship I’m sailing toward anywhere.
I catch myself wandering around the world and discovering bits of pottery, aprons, rocking chairs, paintings, or kitchenware, and mentally collecting them and placing them in my theoretical future house. I also mentally collect houses, so that I have a place in which to put my mentally collected possessions. There’s a particularly lovely house in Leon I collected last week.
At first, I thought I was cheating on my travel-self by indulging my settled-self. I’m in Nicaragua, I just turned 23! Stop thinking about your future picket-fence life, and enjoy living the dream!
Now, however, I indulge it. I’m simultaneously living my nomadic dream, and constructing my Barbie Dream House (though with a lot less pink). I don’t have room in my backpack for any of the decor that I find internationally, so I keep it in a corner of my head. Sometimes I draw a picture of whatever-it-is in my journal. But usually I just hang it on the wall of my hypothetical house-on-the-coast, or put it in the corner of the living room, or place it on the mantel above the fireplace.
As my amiga Nora has told me, I will get what I want. I don’t want anything extravagant – a house on the coast, a family, a garden with chickens. And so, I will have it.
I have my doubts, though, that I’ll last until then. I travel because I’m impatient, I live like I won’t have time to wait. And yet, no. I plan for my future home/cottage/apartment, because I want there to be a time, and I may be approaching the time, when I will be content to be located in a single place. But it seems like every time I check back in to the internet, I learn that someone I know, or whom my friends know, has encountered tragedy. I am living in the moment, while planning, while wondering if/when all this travelling will/might take its toll. I’m not exactly the picture of safety. I’m cautious, and smart, but I still take a hell of a lotta risks.
I ride chicken buses, take speeding taksis over winding wobbling roads, hitchhike (occasionally) in pickup trucks, bike miles and miles in city traffic, and I fly a whole hell of a lot.
And people back home die in car crashes going about their daily business.
I want to get furious, to be a lightning rod for all the unfair tragedy that befalls innocent, non-risk-taking people back home. I want to laugh at my luck, I want to fall into a depression, I want to tape myself in bubble-wrap and sport a catcher’s mask, I want to scream at the unpredictable-ness of it all.
But I can’t. I’m finally beginning to understand what people have been trying to tell me when they say, “That’s life.” That, though I live as though my life will end tomorrow, and as though I will live forever, the truth is that I’ll fall somewhere in the middle.
So, as I look across an expanse of open water, I plan my home on that bit of land I may come across.