a Journey in and of Itself

it’s scary, going places.

not because we leave behind everything we know and have known, but because we run a huge risk: that of knowing, loving and absorbing a new place.

it’s not everyone, nor always, but we who can’t seem to stop will probably, always have to leave.

it’s not confined to global meandering, it’s our hometowns, colleges, workplaces and families. we forge our niches everywhere we end up and then tear ourselves free when it’s time to move. there are too many people in the world to know everyone, so we just try to collect as many good ones as possible while we have the chance.

the problem is that it’s impossible to be in two places at once. or three, four, seventeen.

i can’t be everywhere. i want to be everywhere. every place is more beautiful than the last and every encounter more intimate, every friendship just as cherished and missed when i leave. the big cities are indescribable but it’s the map dots that truly reveal how big the world is, and how many places there are to go. places filled with people.

my friends and family are far away, and it’s sad. someone will always be far away anywhere i go. it’s sad and it’s inspiring.

so we’ll keep on treading the geography in which we landed. we’ll keep saying goodbye, and thank you – and meaning it. we’ll swear that we’ll be back, and we’ll try until the ends of the earth to make good on the promise.

There’s a feeling that’s been creeping on since we were only days into orientation, and it hits me every time I’m greeting a student in the hall or jumping on the bus to Bogotá. Colombia’s tourism commercials state that the only risk is wanting to stay, and it’s happening. It’s not a culture-shock curve where I’m euphoric and giddy until I crash and burn. I recognize bad days, I get pissed and impatient about cultural differences, I don’t love teaching every single minute I’m in class, and I know life is far from easy or perfect here. Yet, Colombia has become home. And, I won’t want to leave, and I might have to for work or finances or life or some twitchy anxiety that draws me to move – but it’s in my heart forever.

The kids always ask me, how long are you staying? Why don’t you stay longer?, even the ones who couldn’t care less about my class. How do you explain to a 13 year-old about student loans, career goals and responsibility? About job markets and retirement savings, resumes and social pressure? About passions and wanderlust? Not a lot of people here – or anywhere for that matter – understand exactly why I’m here, so it’s impossible to explain why I would have to leave. It’s not the beginning anymore, and while I’m not yet on the downswing, people keep talking about the end. They keep asking me when I’m leaving or if I’m staying and there’s no good answer.

Five point five months down, if you’re counting. I’m not. And please for the love of plane tickets and mora juice, don’t ask me what I’m doing next year until August at the earliest. And, please, don’t worry about it. I’m not.

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