Had you asked me two weeks ago, I would have had no idea what this year would bring along. No clue of whether I’d stay or go, or where I’d find myself in a month or two.
Initially I was thinking I’d leave again, for sure I would. I wanted to go back to Australia, to speak English and live an easy life under the sun. I could have gone back on a tourist visa to see if I could find someone to sponsor me, but where would I start looking? In what industry would I like to work? With a strong urge to start doing something meaningful, going back without a clear game plan felt a little rushed, so I figured it might just not be the right option for me at the moment.
New Zealand, then? Nah. I’d had enough of the lifestyle of a backpacker, which I’ve never really identified with anyways. Those fleeting moments with ever-changing roommates in hostels, the never-ending chitchatting with people in the kitchen (read: trying to find a quiet spot but failing to do so), the endless research on how things work, and, last but not least, the hunt for a job and an apartment. Trying to set up a life for a year or so only to leave again in a while.
Thanks, but no thanks; not right now.
I did not feel like I was ready to move back to Helsinki, and it wasn’t like I was going to fly off to Europe just for the sake of not staying in Finland because that was not the point, so what was left in the end was…
My hometown of 65.000+ people to which I was never, ever going to come back, let alone to stay.
”I wish somebody would have told me that
Some day these will be the good old days
All the love you won’t forget
And all these reckless nights you won’t regret
Someday soon your whole life’s gonna change
You’ll miss the magic of these good old days…”
And so over the course of a week or two it seems as if I’ve settled down without even realizing it. I’ve signed a contract with an ad agency, and gotten myself a weekly slot at a yoga studio to start practicing teaching to friends and family, friends of friends, and, who knows, maybe a couple of their friends, too. Excited yet a little hesitant about trusting myself with the fact that this could, in fact, turn out as anything but a catastrophe, I now find myself thinking how in the world did I end up here?
Is this living life to the fullest? I know I can’t spend the rest of my days traveling around the world while moving from A to B to C, either, or I could, but I don’t want to, that’s not what I’m looking for.
Is this in line with what I want to do, though, with how I want to live my life?
I can tell that I’m scared. Scared of losing my spark, and forgetting who I’ve become, going back to what used to be. Seeing that flicker of a flame that’s come alive within in the past year or so fade out, disappear…
Äta – jobba – sova – dö, as we say in Swedish. (Eat – work – sleep – die.)
I believe there’s more to life than that, but how to stay alive, like really, truly alive?
Does moving back to my hometown prevent me from doing that…? Of course not!
”Rooftop open and the stars above
Moment frozen, sneaking out, and falling in love
Me, you and that futon
We’d just begun
On the grass, dreaming, figuring out who I was
Those good old days…”
I was talking to someone I met during my travels the other day, in Queenstown, New Zealand. Standing in the snowfall, I was waiting for the one and only bus that goes into town, there’s one an hour, trying to prevent my iPhone from freezing to death. He was sitting in a bar in Hanoi. Last time I took the bus in this town was more than ten years ago, and for a minute or two I forgot where I was. A familiar feeling of excitement took over me, and I found myself thinking:
What a life he’s living! What a life I was living!
“Never thought we’d get old, maybe we’re still young
May we always look back and think it was better than it was
Maybe these are the moments
Maybe I’ve been missing what it’s about
Been scared of the future, thinking about the past
While missing out on now”
And now I’m here. What a life I am living!
It was nostalgic. I was never really good at handling all the uncertainty and the indefinite number of options. Someone else might have loved it, been in their essence, but I felt trapped in the curse of choices. I think that’s where I got the idea to stay in my hometown for a while, too. I want to cut down on all the choices for now: the events and parties, dinners and coffees, the need to get out of the house just because I don’t feel at home there, cause it’s not the kind of home I want… all the things to see and do and places to go, opportunities to try something new, because when will I ever have time to simply be if I’m constantly running around from one opening of an envelope to another?
To just breathe, and be still, and perhaps read a good book? Write one, if I’m lucky?
Do I have it in me? I’m not sure I do, but I feel like there’s a longing within me that I cannot but take note of.
If all else fails, my aim for this year is to not fall back into what used to be. To never, ever forget how I felt in Queenstown that day 16 weeks and 2 day ago, not that I’m counting the days, but you know… I just did. Nevertheless, that awe-inspiring feeling of being more alive than perhaps ever before after having climbed up to the top of a mountain in the best of company on a crisp, sunny day, full of joy, full of life, with no (real) worries in the world.
No matter where I end up this year, may I never forget those happy vibes; not ever let that urge to see and do and feel it all, the full range of emotions, slip away from me.
I want to take the road less traveled and be free, free as a bird, like I had all the possibilities in the world to be anything I want, anyone I want. To recreate my life here and be a new Anna, a new me, because if it was possible abroad then why wouldn’t it be possible here, too?
“We’ve come so far, I guess I’m proud
And I ain’t worried about the wrinkles around my smile
I’ve got some scars, I’ve been around
I’ve thrown some pain, I’ve seen some things, but I’m here now
Those good old days…”
May I never stop reaching for the stars, because, as cliché as it sounds, that might just take me to the moon. Now, the moon would be quite okay, wouldn’t it?