September, October, November. It’s been three months (and one week) since we moved to Dublin. And three months is pretty significant. It’s the amount of time it takes me to feel comfortable in a new place, and subsequently, it’s also the amount of time it usually takes until I’m itching to move again. As if the minute I feel that familiarity, the next I’m dreaming of the next destination. It is my three month rule, which happened almost entirely by chance, but now results in a significant desire to move, lest I stay in one place long enough for tedium to set in. This time around though, things are different. When I graduated college I went home for three months. From there I went to Tanzania, again for three months. Following my return to the US I spent about three months between home and New York trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Then I moved to LA, to be with Alex. Three months later I headed back to NYC for culinary school, deciding to live in Manhattan. Three months later, I moved to Brooklyn, which lets face it, is what I should have done in the first place. Three months after that, back to LA . Noticing a theme here? From there I spent time in Peru, Ghana, LA, Guatemala and Belize, San Francisco, and then five months in South East Asia.
So you might imagine after my first three months as an expat in Dublin that I would be itching to get away, but to be honest, I’m not. I don’t really know why that is, partly living in Europe has felt a bit like an extended surreal trip. It took me two months of living here to feel like anything remote to normal. But also, I think I’ve gotten better at sitting still. A simple act that has generally eluded me for the past few years. Constant movement ensured I never really had to think about life, not really, because everything was new and exciting, I was generally, always present. And it has been addictive, with an overactive brain like mine I’ll fall in love with any activity that shuts it up. Not to mention, travel is still, to date, the single (non-person) best thing in my life. I love it dearly, I would be lost without it.
But this sitting still thing, is really, really hard. The first time I meditated (tried anyway) I ended up feeling so anxious and flustered I broke out into a cold sweat. How strange is that? I can’t even properly relax at the beach. Whenever I am still, my mind goes to a dangerous place. So, travel keeps my life light and happy. I’ve come to fear routine because it equates being still, which to me, can’t be good.
But this time, its different. I feel peaceful in stillness for once. Things in my life are changing, as if all of a sudden I became something resembling an adult (well, not really an adult, that will probably never happen-one can only hope). I still want to move, travel, in every fiber of my being. But I’m content here is this strange, beautiful life we’ve created for ourselves. I’ve come to understand my life in new terms. This stillness has forced change, which was initially counter to how I viewed the progression of my life. I have changed greatly in the past few years, but mostly, it has not necessarily been during the course of travel, though travel is certainly a cause, but in reflection and juxtaposition of the stillness of life “at home.” I cried for days when I returned from Africa. In part because I missed it, because what I knew as home hadn’t changed, but my vision of it had. But in those long first few days at home when I had time to process and reflect I had to emotionally digest everything that had happened, and everything “here” all of a sudden felt so foreign. That’s when my life really changed, thats when I realized I was changed and that the small things I had learned I would carry with me in not so small ways.
Living in Dublin has been this bizarre mixture of motion and stillness. It isn’t the city I had hoped for, but it has its charms. I’ve realized that change is essential, even if it doesn’t involve uprooting to a new country. Some days when I’m walking to class I’ll take a new route, or when caught in the flow of the wave of bodies following a daily routine, pause to watch people walk past-as if this action removes me from the drudgery of routine and somehow sets my life apart. I miss California, I miss people, I miss the sun. I really, really, miss the sun and the warmth. I thrive on perpetual summer and struggle to find beauty in the barren darkness of the grey, damp winter here. But I am happy, and content. And on the days I feel restless I wander to the market and cook a new meal, or peruse the endless inspiration of future travel ideas and feel content without movement. It’s strange, to be sure, perhaps I ought to try meditating again. Maybe stillness isn’t so bad after all.