I was away for 17 months, and I’ve been back in the US for about 2 1/2. My settling back in has been unsettled. I’ve had many moments of joy, mostly around seeing friends & family. I’ve caught myself being seduced by my old New York lifestyle, checking Craigslist for full-time jobs and the price of one-bedroom apartments. But these moments are mere punctuations in the stream of blandness that is the fixed life. I ache for hikes in Russia and Mongolia, or for diving in Malaysia and Indonesia.
I still feel like an alien in my own country. And not in a good way.
I spent 17 months backpacking, which by definition means I didn’t buy very much stuff. I worried over every purchase, assessing weight, multi-utility, absolute need and my ever-shrinking savings account.
Ten weeks into my return to the US, the holiday season is in full swing. This year’s storyline is a pitched battled between the continuing financial crisis and the sellers of iPads, Snuggies and (this still kills me) Lexuses. Incessant advertisements insist that we must buy these things – to prove our love, to show Christmas spirit, because everyone else is doing it. The heathen consumer-fest of the December holidays in America is a cliché, but for me this year it’s so much more stark and repulsive.
To combat the fixed-life, holiday blues, I’m trying to write more, send out more story pitches, and take every action I can to continue my range life.