This was not a sudden idea.
Quit my job, moved out of my apartment, didn’t sleep in the frenzy that is moving and simultaneously packing for a trip and finally, finally got on a plane to Thailand. It was a big, old idea but I’d made it – a wandering sabbatical.
I’ve wanted to do this for years. Student loans, parental expectations, a whole list of realities/excuses held me back. But, I’ve always been a nomad. Whenever people ask me where I’m from its hard to answer. Born in Queens, I moved to Ecuador when I was 9, to Long Island for 8th grade (a very awkward time), upstate for college and back to NYC post college. Next? “Make it up as we go along.”
“Well/How did I get here?” AB had already been wanting to leave for a while. Forever in love with NYC the thought of leaving was rough, but I was also craving somewhere greener and cleaner. Our lease was coming up for renewal so… we debated about it, spent less/saved a lot, and jumped at the opportunity to finally do it and let go of:
+ Dream job. My biggest pull to stay. If it wasn’t in NYC I would have worked there forever. Six years ago I started out as a TA at a special ed school. Daily frustrations from subway delays, bureaucracy and the education system were minimized by the intense joy that is teaching – laughing and playing with my students, getting to know them and helping them learn and grow. I miss them every day.
+ My favorite apartment (yet). I moved to Harlem in 2013. Specifically, to a very affordable apartment on the same block of a major subway line, a few blocks from 3 parks and in a great neighborhood. Far from perfect, it was our first home together and an entity in and of itself, with lots of our friends living there throughout the years.
+ Soooo much stuff! To forgo rent while mostly traveling, we don’t actually have a place of our own. AB’s parents generously offered space in their house and we’d wanted to pare down for a long time anyway. Our apartment was full of useful things we did not need without even counting our own stuff! Lots of things we’re donated, given to friends and family, or found new homes in Harlem and it was wonderful. As the site name implies – I get a VERY happy feeling when items don’t end up in a landfill.
+ “Security.” We don’t have jobs! This is both exciting and scary – no subway commute, no “weekdays”. Flip side – no automatic retirement plans, incomes, etc, etc. We’ve been planning for a year so we have savings but that sense of security that comes from knowing you’ll be getting a paycheck is non-existent.
For me, this was part of the point. I wanted to have the time and energy to see what I could do without a workday routine. What was pulling at me? What do I really, really want to do? How can I fix the education system? (Ha!) What else can I do without?
“There’s a city in my mind/Come along and take that ride”… At some point Thailand popped in my brain and never left. Being there was insane (aka a dream come true) and I feel extremely lucky that I could take the time and plan this travel year.
Sooo, what about you – What’s your dream? What are you willing to trade for it? What can you drop to make room for more ____?
PS. I sincerely love hearing people’s goals and dreams! And if you recognize the common lyrics and read them in a David Byrne voice – I love you/Talking Heads.