When I first began this journey around the world, I was praised for sharing every thought and feeling on my blog…well, praised by most. Frankly, my mother was mortified.
Then I went radio silent.
As most of you guessed, I fell off the no booze and boys wagon after a bumpy twenty-seven days; but that is not why I disappeared. I will own up to everything I do and did because I live my life freely and openly. (Plus, isn’t it a much more interesting story to pursue something I want than deprive myself or avoid a problem? And isn’t dating a numbers game?)
My current reticence is due to the fact that I have had more epiphanies in the past seven weeks than in the thirty-one years leading up to them. If I were to document those realizations day-by-day, I might seem like a crazy person. My emotions and thoughts fluctuate hourly, even minutely. But what else can be expected considering my current path? I have no routine. Sometimes I’m in three countries in one day – literally. As I write this I am on a train from to Fez, Morocco. I didn’t even know this place existed until yesterday when my friends told me we were going.
I am not “normal.” I never have been (much to my younger self’s dismay) and never will be – so I’m just going to own it. That has been the biggest realization over the course of three months. Before I left Memphis I felt that I had to cram everything into this year because I would finally settle down upon my return. I’d get married, have 2.5 kids who would go to MUS and St. Mary’s respectively, find a 9-to-5 job, ride horses, and do what I always envisioned…but I’d have some wild stories in my back pocket for entertainment at dinner parties.
This year was my last hurrah.
…but then I met Remote Year friends. My tribe. Women warriors who inspire me on the daily. Angel sisters who I’ve shared more with after knowing them for mere weeks than friends I’ve known for decades.
Instead of talking about how great it would be to return to our hometowns and safe jobs, we discuss how maybe we don’t want to go back to the states at all…or have kids. Yes, we feel we are supposed to do those things…but we can’t ignore that we light up when we shift gears and focus on travel, adventure, or the fact that we actively hunt for new countries to call home.
We share our desire to carve out a new path. We *are* carving out a new path.
And with this new path comes the relinquishing of my past obsession: finding my soulmate. I’ve screamed at the top of my lungs for the past decade, “Where is he?!”
…but then I wouldn’t have had these adventures and memories that will last a lifetime. Have you ever kissed a handsome stranger after baring your soul on a rooftop in Spain? Or spent a long weekend with a comedian in a riad in Morocco? Or dove into the Mediterranean with a Portuguese lawyer you met on Tinder? Or realized that maybe you do have a crush on your cute guy friend who always makes you laugh over wine and cheese in France?
* details and places have been slightly changed to protect the innocent
If you want to call me a slut, that’s fine. It is your word, not mine.
“Men always complained I had a lot of boyfriends. I never agreed, or disagreed. I was too busy kissing to care. I disapproved of jealous complainers and had not an opinion on their opinion of me.”
But I’ve finally accepted people, particularly men, for what they are in my life. If they are just for fun, then so be it. Life is a lot less stressful when I appreciate each moment and don’t think I own anyone or anything. (Literally, all of my possessions now fit into two carry-on bags.)
The beauty of Remote Year is that I am talking to so many people like me…and it’s ok if our paths are different than the rest. There is real comfort (i.e. relief) in knowing that this nomadic way of life works for other people long-term.
I’ll admit that I do the crazy shit that I do because I’m not married. My married friends shake their heads in disbelief every time I talk to them. And if you want to get real, I’m obviously looking for what they have. But if I can’t have a husband, then I’m not going to pout at home. I’m going to do what you can only do when you’re single – and enjoy it.
And maybe I’m just being selfish. I have already had two great loves in my life. I can’t complain or be greedy. Some people never know what that is like and I should be so lucky to know what I’m missing. So maybe I’ve already had my shot at love, and my soulmate is me. Does that sound narcissistic? Perhaps. But there isn’t anyone else around…what other choice do I have?
“Got to do you, boo boo,” friends coo when I’m doubtful (otherwise known as the Remote Year Magellan anthem).
But perhaps there is hope. I was amongst a group of visionary angel friends this week when one pointed out during a heart-to-heart love fest that if I wanted to find someone…I should be doing things they do. If I want a rock climber, I should rock climb. And that makes perfect sense. Something clicked inside of me because the guy I want isn’t back home in Memphis working 9-to-5. He’s probably hiking to the top of a mountain in Peru and jumping out of airplanes in New Zealand…so I’m going to go find him. And he probably doesn’t want to go home either.
I’m also learning to forget my age. A friend commented I’m obsessed with being 31. She’s right, it is one of the first things out of my mouth every time I meet someone and why I ended up on Remote Year. I thought I needed to get everything out of my system before I settled down…because I’m 31. Yikes. Time to start my “real life.”
But age is just a number. And if that cute 25 year old wants to flirt with me, I’m going to let him. I don’t look 31 and certainly don’t feel like it. If I wait too long to make the conscious decision to be a mother and can’t have kids naturally, we’re on an overpopulated planet. There are plenty of kids who need a good home. And who is to say that I haven’t already started my real life? Fact: I have.
The amount of self-discovery is overwhelming. Mostly about how hard I am on myself. And finally forgiving myself for being so drawn to a bohemian lifestyle. Like a moth to a flame. Yes, I can’t ignore that some talk to me like I’m a failed free spirit cliche…but to that I ask them, are you traveling the world? Do you wake up every morning full of joy and wondering where you are or who you will meet? Is simply going to the grocery store an adventure? These past three months of experiences have shaken my beliefs about who I am to the core. I am not a Eat, Pray, Love cliche. I am me…and what I’m doing is pretty damn cool.
This is not to say that my friends aren’t supportive. Most are. And because of this, it solidified my belief that you should tell everyone early and often how much you love them and what they mean to you. I don’t want anyone to ever doubt if they had an impact. Perhaps I am too open. Too free with adoration. But I’d rather you roll your eyes when I gush over you yet again, than to never hear the compliments. So sorry for all of the effusive messages, but they aren’t stopping. My absence made me recognize how much I have back home. And how many people love me for me – particularly my mother. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
The final piece in this self-discovery puzzle is that life is a tradeoff. You can’t have everything, but you can have your priorities. Right now, my priority is seeing the world. And for the first time in a long time, I am truly happy.