Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I'll be yours and you'll be mine

Happy valentines day! Here's a fun fact for you all: I have never been anybody's valentine. Shocking, I know. This is probably because I have also never been anyone's girlfriend, which in turn is probably because I pretty much hate everyone (kidding. Mostly). This is no pity party though, and despite not knowing anyone I want to spend that much time with (full disclosure: I don't actually know how much time you're expected to spend with your significant other, but I'm going to go ahead and assume it's ALL of the time. And before long I would be telling them to back their face up and let me watch some internet television), I am not anti-valentines. The reason for this is in two parts: 1) Any holiday, as Hallmark-y as it might be, that suggests we take time out to lavish love and attention on those we care about is ok by me, and 2) Woo chocolate, yeah! I might be single, but any excuse'll do to eat some delicious, gooey-centered hearts as far as I'm concerned.

I'm also cool with valentines day because I like the idea of (romantic) love waaay more than I like the reality of it. Like, I'm not going to sit around and cry at The Notebook with you, but I do love the concept of big, complex love stories. Sure it's nice for you if you married your first love and had a bunch of kids and/or successful careers and you still love each other as much as ever, but I enjoy a little drama in my (non-existent and totally voyeuristic) love life. My own mother, for example, once she got done procreating with my father, ended up marrying a man she'd known almost her entire life. He was the older brother of her childhood friend. Their mothers were in the same church group. They moved in the same circles and went to the same parties. Their paths crossed literally hundreds of times before they got their shit together years down the line and decided they loved each other. And even then they waited a good decade before they actually got married.

So. Thus far we've established that I hate people and my role models for a healthy romantic relationship are a divorcee and a commitment-phobe. However, contrary to popular opinion I am not, in fact, an emotionless drone. It's true that I sometimes am slightly inept (read: totally shit) when it comes to conveying how I feel. And I can also be a pretty terrible friend. I'm hopeless at keeping in touch, and given that wherever I go now at least some of the people I care about will be half a world away, this is an unfortunate trait. But it's that time of year, and no matter whether I last spoke to you two days or two years ago, I just thought I'd let you all know that I do love you. You can all be my valentine.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The good life

When I was in Bratislava I met a guy from The Netherlands who told me I was brave. Brave for leaving home, brave for starting a new life with no safety net, and then brave again for leaving to travel alone with no real plan. And I told him he was wrong. Because from where I'm standing, nothing I've done up to this point has been an act of bravery. It's just part of who I am. It's partly my personality, and it's partly how I've been brought up. But a big part of it is also the knowledge that even if everything went completely tits-up, I would always be able to go back to Australia and start again. And starting from scratch is a sucky thing to have to do - a reality that I'm finally having to face - but it's also an incredible luxury, and one that comes with a huge payoff.

My love for London is well documented. I will wax lyrical on the topic given even the slightest encouragement; I get jealous of friends who just talk about moving to London. But if London is my favourite place I've spent an extended amount of time in, Prague is a strong contender for the title of favourite place briefly visited. God I loved Prague. So much so that I extended my stay there, left, then went back again.

It wasn't just that the city was beautiful, or that my hostel was amazing, or that there was always something to do. It was all of these things, of course, but it was also the people I met there. I think, especially when travelling alone, the people you meet shape the way you experience each new place. I had been told before going that Prague was amazing, so I booked a (relatively) long time there, and I think I would have thought it was a wonderful city regardless. But everything that happened while I was in Prague made me remember why I enjoy travelling by myself so much. I was able to stay longer; I was invited on day trips by people I'd met hours prior; I had a drunken snowball fight, visited a church decorated by 17th century artwork crafted from human bones, and went to a gig played by an American-Czech guy one of my roommates met on the internet. I was able to choose when I wanted to be alone, and whenever I wanted good company it's been at the ready. It was the epitome of what solo travel should be like.

The more I travel, the more I realise how unbelievably lucky I am. Not just that I come from the kind of socio-economic background that allows me to take two years out after university to run around the globe, or that I have a family who support said running around, but also that things have worked out the way I imagined. And continue to do so. I know people who have moved overseas or gone travelling only to find it was nothing like what they wanted. For me, everything has been so easy (touch wood).


Sometimes I worry that I'll get back to Australia and I'll get a job that is ok, and I'll date people who are ok, and I'll be pretty happy and comfortable, and that my life will fall into the yawning chasm of mediocrity. I mean, I'm fairly smart and articulate, but there are thousands of other smart, articulate people out there. And even though Australia is doing well in the grand scheme of things, we are in a global economic downturn, and I'm now two years behind the people I graduated with. In my more lucid moments, though, I seriously doubt that will happen. For one thing, I'm stupidly ambitious. Plus I'm not even close to finished travelling. The world is so big, and I only have -what- another 60-odd years to see it? But most of all I'm not afraid of taking that leap of faith. So many people sit around and talk about the things they'd like to do. I have enough experience now to know that if I want something enough, I'll do it. And if that means starting from nothing again (and again, and again), then that's fine with me.