Before we came to Ottawa, we lived on the road for almost two years. Central America, South America, South Pacific… A crazy run across continents and countries, a life of border crossings, inmigración, cambio and passport stamps, a life of mountains, plains, prairies, fjords, deserts, beaches and jungle, a life of colors, noises and surprises. New year in Panama and Hong Kong, the Rio Carnival, Xmas under the sun celebrated with fireworks and lots of chocolate. The nicest places on earth, free-minded people and chicken buses. That was my life. I was bound to live this way.
Somewhere along the way, I came to long for a stable life. Sure, cold showers were lots of fun (and it’s supposedly good for your skin…), not being able to remember the name of the country in which you lived the previous week was at least fairly original and the freedom to move around the world, priceless. But still, I wanted to be able to buy other clothes than the one I’ve had wore for the last few years, being able to put my stuffs into the washing-machine rather than washing all of my underwear under the daily shower. I envied every country’s citizens. I was a world citizen, but it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to fit in.
I realized that even though my travel knowledge had gotten pretty good I hadn’t been prepared for everyday’s life in everyday’s world.
The first few years were a struggle. I couldn’t cook, didn’t know how to look for a job (although I was, in my opinion, a good employee – I just found it hard to deal with all the HR bullshit), didn’t know anybody. I overlooked problem alternating between the Latino “mañana” and the traveler’s spirit – if it doesn’t work out in a place, just move. But I wasn’t going to move. I was going to improve.
Eventually, things fell into places, life got better from a materialistic point of view and I learned to cook pasta without killing the pot.
But deep down, I keep the ying & yang dichotomy. Life at home is a play and I play my part. Go to work at 9:00, have lunch in the business district, finish my day by 5:00, go exercise and relax in the evening. When I buy clothes, I have a dress-code policy in mind whereas y own policy used to be “easily washable under the shower” and “cute-artistic-original”. Damn it, I haven’t wore my Che tee-shirt in years, and I’m not even mentioning all the “I made it myself tees” neatly folded in my dresser !
Part of me in longing for a stable life, a good job, nice friends and a good partner. I understand the world through social Darwinism : survival of the fittest in a urban environment, fatalism being the key word. Aware of the fact the world isn’t like I would like it to be, but powerless to change it. Aware of the fact I’m just a pawn on the checker.
But a huge part of me is still ready for adventures, crazy life on the road. Convinced I’m different, that I can change the world, that I can craft it my way. That materialistic stuffs don’t matter, that I can live anywhere with little, that discovering the world is more important than mastering one’s district, area or city. The world is big and it’s begging to be traveled. That happiness can’t be bought is is found when you don’t expect it. That climbing the corporate ladder is just a way to fool people into working their ass of in the first part of their life, and longing for retirement in the other. That society shouldn’t be telling me what to do and how to behave.
I look through the window and today it hurts. Weather is cold and so are people, no mess on the street but the noise of light traffic, no colors but the whitish snow on the ground, no warmth outside the 5$ coffee cups, no kids playing but in specifically designed areas. I miss traveling. I miss life at the fullest. I miss empty spaces, crowned plazas, street people, sunsets and loud voices.
I miss my yang.