Remote Year: One Month Reflection
It’s weird to think that I’ve been traveling for almost 2 months now, and almost all of that has been international.
It’s even weirder to think that I’ve been living in Lisbon for five weeks and it completely feels like home. So much so that the idea of moving to Croatia tomorrow fills me with anxiety, and leaves me a little bit sad. Leave Lisbon? But I just got comfortable.
Comfort. That’s my biggest attachment- it’s not that I’m resisting change it’s that I’m trying to find someway to get comfortable, whatever that looks like, and leaving each city the minute I feel settled is forcing me to unpack the notion of comfort in a way I never thought I’d be doing.
“I miss Target. I miss driving, strangely. I miss modern showers. These everyday conveniences, or comforts, that just do not exist over here.”
Now that I’ve officially checked off month one on Remote year, there are some things I’m noticing- some surprising, some not.
I am most surprised by how easy it was for me to adapt to Europe. I am sure that when I am in Morocco in January I may not feel so adaptable. Right now, however, I feel weirdly adjusted, culturally. I often find myself forgetting what life was like before, that it is only 10:30 am back home and over here I’m about to eat dinner. I struggle to grasp these two realities, so I’d rather just pretend there is only one, this, right now.
I am also surprised how much I don’t even think about all my belongings, possessions that I do not have. My room has the bare essentials, as does my wardrobe, and although somedays I get irritated looking at the same five outfit choices, and a bare room, I mostly feel like this is just how life is and forget it used to be any differently. Reminder to seriously go through all my stuff when I return home because it is so unnecessary.
That being said, I do miss home but not in the way I expected. It doesn’t make me homesick that everything is in a different language, or that people look different than me or that I have none of my own things in my “home.” I miss my friends, but we all live in different places regardless.
“This will definitely be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, but it’s still just that- just another experience, and I’m still me, no matter where I go.”
I miss the strangest things about my culture, small things I didn’t even think about. I really miss to-go coffee, really anything to-go, or fast paced- servers that force you out of restaurants instead of holding you captive for hours even after you’ve asked for the bill. I really miss hot sauce, and ketchup. I miss the softness of my bed and the fluffiness of my pillows (I’ve realized I have back problems I should probably attend to after sleeping on these rock hard beds) I miss Target. I miss driving, strangely. I miss modern showers. These everyday conveniences, or comforts, that just do not exist over here.
When I told people I was doing this, they went on about how this would change me forever, that I would grow and learn so much, that there would be no coming back from this. While I agree about the growing and learning, we only grow and learn if we try, if we make ourselves. You can grow and learn from your bedroom if that’s your focus, and you can travel the world and have learned nothing, and lived your life exactly the same.
I think the most surprising realization I’ve had is that this is still just my life. Yes, I am traveling to places I’ve never thought I would, and with people who were and still somewhat are complete strangers. Yes, I left everything behind. Yes, physically my life is completely altered and nothing is the same. But it also feels the same. I am not fundamentally different. My perspective will have been altered due to this experience, it will have expanded, that’s a given. I will have met people and been to places I’ve never been. But at the end of the day…it is still just another day. I’m eating, breathing, bathing, working, talking, laughing, walking.
This will definitely be an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, but it’s still just that- just another experience, and I’m still me, no matter where I go.
That being said, my favorite thing and biggest take-away is to find those things that feel like home in between all the things that challenge you. Spend time weekly doing those things. For me, that’s finding a favorite bookstore and cafe where I can spend a few hours people watching and writing, by myself. It’s finding a place that serves Matcha lattes and a good health food store. It’s finding a favorite sunset spot, a place near water, and a place to workout. If I have these comforts, I can feel at home anywhere in the world, and in those moments, I feel just the same.