Monthly Archives: January 2010

A dreamer dreams she never dies

Young Lucy was a dreamer – she believed that there was a divine plan that was set in motion the day that she was conceived. Every choice that Lucy made was already part of some great scheme in which the cause and effect was not a mystery. She could make no wrong decision because her fate was pre-determined and her future was shaped. To Lucy, this meant that everything happened for a reason, and there was something greater for this little Lucy to look forward to.

Then Lucy woke up and became a cynic or as she likes to say a “realist”. She became angry and began to question the very foundation in which she had previously based her beliefs. She began to say things like there is no God, life is random, and humans are insignificant specks on the timeline of existence. Religion is a way to control the masses; authority is not always right, trust in no one except yourself because people will always let you down. There is no “great reason” why people die, no “God” waiting for them on the other side. We control our destiny and we need to take responsibility for our actions.

And now we arrive at current day Lucy, the Lucy that is still a “realist” yet, sensitive, emotional, less hostile and more forgiving. The Lucy that still waves to people when they stop to let her cross the street, and still does favors for people knowing they won’t be returned. However, although she won’t admit it, this Lucy also lowers her expectations of people, and of herself. She is afraid of being hurt, and has built a little moat around her heart where only the bravest of souls attempt to cross. There are no second chances in this small protective bubble that she has created around herself, which makes love for her all the more difficult. This Lucy questions her self-worth more than she would like to divulge, and so a self-hatred brews deep within her soul and from this a poison vapor rises from within her and seeps into her relationships to spread its destruction.

This is the Lucy that is desperately searching for an escape from the life that is formed by destiny that she controls for the fear that if she doesn’t her self-loathing will consume her whole.

The Truth: It Hurts

I find myself in the foulest of foul moods today, and for absolutely no good fucking reason.  I mean, it’s always hard to justify firing expletives at a wonky desk drawer while you hide the tears and snot that are leaking from your face, totally unprovoked.  But today, especially, there is nothing that should be causing this sort of emotional hemorrhaging.  It was gonna be a good day.

I can almost pinpoint when things went terribly wrong.  It was some harmless a.m. Facebook browsing (Facebook is the fucking devil) that led to this gravity-defying mood swing.  Sometimes seeing everyone else’s glamorous globe-trotting lives is enough to make me start eying the letter opener with the most morbid of intentions.

*Epiphany*

For the first time in all of this “I’m leaving the country!” talk, I noticed that there is something I am running from.  So far, I had viewed this trip as an effort at ‘finding something’.  Self.  Direction.  Love. God.  Purpose.  You know, good stuff.  It hadn’t occurred to me that there was stuff I was trying to get away from.

But I guess part of this process is being completely honest with myself, and the truth is that some shit happened in the past two years that changed me as a person, and probably not for the better.  I’m still not over it and it’s causing a serious mutation of my personality, a Jekyll – Hyde sort of syndrome that brings out the most hideous and shameful behaviors.  A lot of it now has to do with my own general unhappiness, but I maintain that the way I was treated was mostly undeserved.  I was deeply wounded and things still aren’t healing right.

When I was still in the middle of it all, I tried my hardest to confront it.  In fact, I was the one in the relationship who was willing to face the problems and try to work them out.  But I was thwarted at every single fucking step and the only option left was to start building walls in order to protect myself.

And so I embraced barriers.  No more hanging out, no more talking, no more living in the same place, no more mentioning it at all.  My aim was to do this as maturely as possible, without ‘blocking’ e-mails, un-friending on social network sites or putting awkward conditions on other friendships.  But still this thing in my life continues to be toxic and cancerous.  Now I’m afraid that if I don’t entirely remove it, cut it out in every way possible, it’s just going to keep festering and infecting me.

So this morning I find myself on Facebook, seething bitterness and resenting other people’s fortune , then wondering how I can permanently and completely delete someone.   I wish to pull this one thread out without fucking up the entire delicate tapestry that is my social life, and then I start thinking maybe it’s worth ruining every other relationship I have just to escape this rotting, dead one.  Those are dire and desperate thoughts, friends.

I suppose that’s where South America comes in.  It’s a slower and gentler way of removing the thread.  I can untie things instead of doing irrevocable damage with a pair of scissors.  I can create a new happier me and a new fascinatingly awesome life and when I come back maybe this one ugly thread will have blended so thoroughly with the rest that it won’t matter anymore.

I Saw the Sign, and it Opened Up My Eyes. I Saw the Sign.

Since Layla and I first started talking about getting the hell out of here, everyday there has been a slew of signs encouraging me to do so.  Yes I believe in signs.  And these ones range from the enormous (jobs and men) to the teeny tiny (Buenos Aires on tv?!?).  I believe the universe is talking to me and I’m worried that if I don’t listen, next time I ask it for something it’s gonna tell me to go fuck myself.

First, there’s Work.  Ugh.  I’m positive that if given the proper training, a monkey could definitely do my job. Probably even minus the bad attitude.  Essentially, I have a lot of free time during the day to do nothing but be bitter about my atrophying brain and the dust collecting on my useless degree.  I was all settled on a plan that, come January! I’d put some serious effort into finding a new job.  Now I’ve changed my mind.  I will keep this miserable fucking job with these miserable fucking people and everyday will be a reminder of how ill-suited I am to this 9-5 office bullshit thus maintaining my motivation to escape.  Meanwhile, I can spend lots of time researching the trip, writing and generally preparing to leave.  Problem solved.

Then there’s The Ex.  In reflecting on my last relationship, I try to focus on what I have learned from it or how this experience will serve me in the future.  You know, bein’ all mature about it.  When I was with the Ex, because our life situations were so different (me: 24 and free, him: 40 and living here under questionable circumstances), I was completely conflicted over the fact that I would probably not be able to travel the world (with or without him) because  Oh my god, can’t do anything without my boyfriend! But I convinced myself that it was going to all work out and I chokedthe voice screaming, “You’re wrong! This is wrong! YOU WANT TO TRAVEL!”

Well now the voice is back and The Ex is gone and I recognize that there is no way I will ever be happy with myself if I don’t travel.  I will be incomplete.  It took almost committing to a life that would nearly prohibit travel to realize that it’s the exact opposite of what I want.  What can I say?  Sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.

There’s also The Guy.   Not a boyfriend, but a guy.  We’re not dating, just sleeping together bi-weekly.  He sends me a good morning text everyday and helps me do stuff like fix my computer before we do it.  He is good to me.  But the intellectual connection is non-existent and my emotional ties are, shall we say, loose.  And while he has grown on me tremendously since our first date, I still doubt that it will be very difficult to break things off before I leave.

I’ve been trying to make sense of this relationship since it started because it’s so bizarre.  And convenient.  And easy.  And suspicious.  I mean really, good sex and no effort?  You’d think I won the karmic lottery.  But as my escape plans are developing, it’s all getting clearer.  I am the girl who has put off traveling to be with a dude.  I hate that about myself and it’s something I’d like to change.  So I’ve deduced that this Guy is here to satisfy my daily needs (sex, need for attention/affection, etc) without all the emotional goopy grossness, so that I can spend my time worrying about something other than finding a boyfriend.  Like a trip to around the world.

Now I’m reading this book, Eat, Pray, Love.  I’m pretty sure it was a gift from God.  Like, God was just chillin’ in his pad  and was like, “You know who really needs this book?” And then he sent me a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoirs, which is basically a “How to Cure Depression and Directionless by Traveling the World!” This book will serve as my Bible, my guide as I begin this little journey.  I can’t even remember the last time I was so inspired. Plus, you know, she talks about “signs” from the universe too. So like…her believing in signs is another sign that I should believe in signs…

Which brings to me to the Camera.  At the top of my list of “Items to Purchase Before Travel” (because I’m a consumer) was a camera, more specifically a camcorder.  The first time I went to Argentina I took a gazillion photos and it makes me very happy to look at them now.  I have wanted desperately to go back with some live film (I’m cheesy, leave me alone).

Well the other day, a camcorder magically found its way to me.  We’ll just say it fell..from the sky…into my eager, reachy hands.   Either way, I just saved a month’s rent and have plenty of time for someone to teach me how to use my new toy!

On top of this foundation of portents are lots of tiny little signs.  Like Buenos Aires coming up on the travel channel right after we’ve been talking about going there.   Or having access to free language software.  Or finding little souvenirs from Argentina in my purse from 5 years ago.

What this all boils down to is that for the first time, I sense that my life is leading me SOMEWHERE.  I’d be a total dick to ignore it.

The Spark

The epic failure of a year 2009 was dragging its ass to a close finally when my New Year’s Eve plans fell through – suddenly and without explanation. Par for the course, considering the events and months preceding it. But this time, for some reason, I wasn’t content to just resign myself. I had gracious and wonderful invitations to friends’ apartments for drinks with husbands and boyfriends. I, having neither, was selfishly not too thrilled to be playing the part of Third/Fifth/Seventh Wheel. It wasn’t different enough. It was too quiet and peaceful. It was no way to welcome the incredible potential of a year I intended to make different.

Then, lo!, an idea.

I was on a train to St. Louis at 7 am the next morning, watching through the window as Chicago melted behind me and gave way to the flat, snowy plains of Illinois and the great big gray sky. Traveling alone and by train invites a kind of rambling meditation. I replayed the last year of my life in my head (a year that is arguably my first real go at adulthood, marked by some significant failures). Even so, the weight of it all wasn’t so bad that moment. Iwas in a liminal zone, on the train, and that was affording me some grace, some forgiveness, some “let’s give this another shot” hope. We Americans have this idea that moving will give us some glorious life reboot. And, as someone who tends to trade in one hometown for another every few years, I believe it.

And I know that St. Louis is really not much different from Chicago. But they have different people, different bars, a different (dare i say better?) baseball team, a different river and no smoking bans. So yeah, it’s kind of foreign.  And yeah, I got to look at everything with a fascination I hadn’t experienced in a long time.

So after that little trip, the thought of moving somewhere on another continent, in another hemisphere, with a delicious language I don’t know, with a climate I’ve never experienced, with new buildings and books and food and music  – it sounds like one big wondergasm. I’m in. Details to follow.

The beginning

And so it starts.  For years (eek!) now, I have successfully ignored the feeling that my life is pretty much going nowhere.  I knew the feeling was there, with a finger in my face, “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!”  But I decided to be ‘realistic’ and ‘patient’, to suck it up and ‘wait until I have enough money’ to travel.  Well guess fucking what? Unless I win the fucking lottery tomorrow, I’m never going to have ‘enough’ money.

Shit is always popping up.  Take 2009 for instance: chock-full-o-bullshit.  What started out as a promising year (I met a man in January and fell instantly in love), came to a close December 31 in the hospital where my dad was recovering from cancer-removal-surgery.  In between there were multiple funerals (my collection of  mass cards is super depressing), an abrupt break-up and consequent damaged heart, the painful dissolution of a six-year friendship and more office drama than you can shake a stick at (what?).

What’s left of me post-2009 is someone I only sort of recognize – someone, more importantly, that I don’t much care for.  I go through the motions day after day to the point that every week is a blur.  Wake up go to work hate my job curse public transportation arrive home self medicate rinse and repeat.  I wish my life away waiting for the weekend.  It’s an ugly cycle that is begging to be broken.

Enter the girls.

It seems odd that three girls from different parts of the country should find themselves experiencing the same life crises at the same time in the same place.  But here we are and all the excuses I have are bullshit now.  No one to travel with? Not anymore! No money? Cleaning hotel rooms ain’t so bad with good company.  No guts? These are some fiesty girls I’ve fallen in with.

There are about a million “reasons” I can still come up with not to leave, missing my family and fear of complete destitution topping the list.  But the alternative of simply staying put is beginning to look so bleak that even fear and emotional attachment can’t hold me back.

I hope I have the spine to stick to what I’m saying right now.  I’ve flaked out on myself so many times I can’t even remember what discipline and drive feel like. But hopefully having to face my fellow wanderers every single day will inspire the contortionist moves I need to kick my own ass into gear.

Wish me luck!

Just because I rock, doesn’t mean I’m made of stone

I am an adrenaline addict, and like all addicts, with each “rush” it takes a little more to feel the high. It started out fairly harmless – a few spontaneous road trips with friends, which led to a few spontaneous road trips by myself, which turned into me “taking a break” from college, which turned into me moving by myself half way across the country with a few suitcases , which turned into a little drug experimentation, which turned into sleeping with random men in public places, which turned into me sleeping with a man  who is engaged, which turned into me moving again across the country (North) with one suitcase, which has now turned into me seriously considering  a move to Buenos Aires, Argentina  with a couple of girls whom I have just recently met.

I am well aware of the fact that the path in which I have embarked more resembles a declining,  semi-paved, one-lane road that is about to turn  into a wooden bridge 1,000 ft. over a steep crevice with a small wooden sign at the end reading “Rest of bridge missing due to rotting wood”.

However, I shall not be deterred. Because, unfortunately these little “adventures” of mine (dangerous to my health as they may be), provide the only glimmer of euphoria that I experience in this dull black void in which is my life. And so, the question becomes; will I move to a foreign country where I don’t speak the language or know the culture?

Yeah, probably – I’m already getting a little giddy just thinking about it.

¡Bienvenidos!

Welcome to The Wanderlust Diary!

What:  A collaborative diary of an impending international adventure!  It begins with a few chicks who need a major change in their lives and who realize that they’ve ignored their wanderlust far too long.  They have begun to face what it would mean to pack up and hit the road.  This blog will serve as a journal of the everyday mundane planning and preparing for a trip, as well as the emotional consequences of leaving family, job and all things familiar.

wan⋅der⋅lust

/ˈwɒndərˌlʌst/ [won-der-luhst]

–noun a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

Who:  Lucy, Rosalita and Layla’s paths crossed one fateful December in the great city of Chicago.  They found that they had much in common, from their day-lives working as secretaries to the way they spend their nights, lamenting just how dull things have become.  A few wine fueled conversations later, they concluded that their destiny is in their own hands and that when it comes to seeing the world, it’s either NOW or never.

When: Conveniently, Lucy, Rosalita and Layla each seem to be free from leases, jobs and family obligations at the end of Summer 2010.  It gives them 7 solid months save some money, tie up loose ends and emotionally prepare for what is sure to be a life changing adventure.

Where: They are more or less committed to South America as their first continent destination.  Buenos Aires holds particular appeal, as Rosalita spent a few semesters there in college.  It gives them one translator, a few contacts and some familiarity that will make the transition more pleasant.

Why: WHY NOT?????????????????