Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's a Long Way

When I returned from South America, I recall on big thing I had learned: places don't define places, people define places. With only a few months left here, I find myself trying to relish this fact more and more. Already I find that I am trying to spend the majority of my time left with close friends rather than making new ones or even developing very new friendships. Come July, it won't be so practical to fly to Buenos Aires to share mate with Hernan & Bufi, to have dinner with Claudia in Bogota, or to have coffee with Netsanet in Ethiopia.

And while Gent has been my favorite city of the past few years, I won't find myself coming back so soon just to re-live times spent sitting by the canal. Rather, I will probably take that time to go to Argentina, Costa Rica, Colombia, etc. The location is simply a means to an end, as evidenced by my friendship with Lautaro, in which the location has changed for each meeting, 6 places and counting.

And while I am not looking forward to leaving everyone and everything here, I am really excited, though a bit nervous, in my move back. It is not unlike when I left UL & Chicago; I was excited and nervous about a big change, leaving friends, leaving a nice job, and stepping out into the unknown and moving away from something familiar and comfortable. The unknown was pretty big, not having much of a plan, not knowing what each day would bring. But that was half of the point, and everything worked out fine. Now, I have bit of a grasp of the unknown. I can, however, foresee a hangover of leaving something so comfortable and great here. I simply will not get the environment I have here, surrounded in a residence with close international friends and a student schedule. I won't be able to do the small things, like knock on Nadya's door every day to see if she want's to eat dinner, for example. I'll have to adjust to living in an apartment and coordinating everything. Not having the ability to travel, we'll see how that goes. I have already started to begin to submit to the simple fact that we work like dogs in the US and vacation time is nil, so energies can be focused elsewhere to produce a nice balance.

We always want what we can't have. I am very happy with the last two and a half years of traveling and studying, which has wildly surpassed any of my prior expectations. I feel lucky to have had such experiences and opportunities. But frankly, I have actually become a bit tired of it, and feeling a bit worn out (it will be 42 countries in 2.5 years!). Which is also why I am excited again for a new change. A change back to steady-state, in engineering terms. The student schedule and life is not conducive to many things of any sort of regularity. I am very happy to start working again for the fixed-ness it gives me in everything outside of work. Taking up new hobbies, learning new skills, visiting old friends, and maintaining permanent friendships in one location, all things that have been pretty impossible the last 2+ years.

And to go home is a topper. 10 years man! Long time. It will be simply great not to have to jam everything into a one-two week visit per the usual. This time, things can wait, and be planned. On the other hand, spontaneity is actually possible. A hike in the bay area with dad or a dinner out with mom and dad at a new restaurant. Crab fishing or some other random event with Aunt Jean. Random restauranting and cooking with K & P. Actually being able to be part of the group with Justin or visit Natalie on a weekend. And looking forward to meeting new people, through Rotaract, couchsurfing, or whatever other means. Simple things in a familiar place, but exciting nonetheless.

Life can probably be boiled down to a few major events for most people. Moving, marriages, kids, graduations, etc. I can recall the dates of a few. January 2008, when I stopped dating Rachel (boy, that was a phenomenal decision). February 7 2010 when I boarded the plane to Peru. And shortly after on February 27, the earthquake in Chile  It's bittersweet to write this, but July 12, 2012 might need to be in that set!

I leave with my two favorite quotes and the song which is the title of my post, by Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso.

"We are never anywhere else but here. Every moment is new, despite our tendency to forget just that"-Matthias

"Life is what happens while your busy making other plans" -Lennon

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