For so much of my life I lived abroad, traveled at every opportunity to places far, far off the beaten track, attended house parties frequented by an achingly cool international crowd, befriended people on planes and long-haul bus trips, changed plans in whatever way suited my fancy, and generally threw caution to the wind. I had many adventures, that's for sure, and a lot of my identity became defined by that exciting expat-traveler lifestyle.
Not that I wasn't aware of the downsides of the path I'd chosen. The frequent loneliness and depression, the culture shock and reverse culture shock, the isolation from family, the inevitable distancing from friends. Still, despite the negative aspects, it was a hell of an exciting way to live.
For the last couple of years, I've been shifting out of that mode. There were signs of it in Mozambique, as I increasingly craved time at home, with Rico and the cats, doing nothing and going nowhere. I thought it was a natural reaction to the crazy work habits we'd been keeping, taking on every freelance job that came across our plates. I figured I was burned out, in need of a break.
Then we moved to Casa Cali and the introverted, homebody tendencies continued strong. I rationalized that it was because we'd just moved, that in time I'd want to venture out and explore, that we'd make friends, that my old adventure-seeking self would bounce back.
Nearly two years in, and that hasn't exactly happened. I still feel like I'm plain, stay-home Jane. I have very little desire to go out, even to the city. My days are spent in the studio, gardening, hanging out at home. Social events sort of exhaust me. I can't remember the last time I set foot in a dance club or went to a fantastic late-night party, much less take a spontaneous weekend trip. We have a mortgage. We're in bed by midnight. Signs abound pointing to my very adult life.
Part of me loves this slower, home-oriented pace. I spent lots of quality time with Rico and my mom. I hang out with the cats. I cook and decorate and get my hands dirty in the garden. I make lots of art. It's relaxing, comforting work. More than anything I like the stability, the idea that Rico and I are building our home at Casa Cali and we will never, ever have to pack boxes and move ourselves halfway across the world again.
Another part of me, however, feels like I've let the train pass me by. I turn 30 in the fall, and I can't quite believe I'm this settled, this quiet, this grown-up. If I'm like this at nearly-30, the panicky part of me wonders, what will I be like at 40, or 50? When will I ever be adventurous and spontaneous again? When will I visit Lençóis Maranhenses, hike Monte Roraima, attend the Festival au Desert in Timbuktu? When will I do any of the other things that have been on my dreams list for years if all I want to do at this point is stay home? Because after art school comes kids, or so the plan goes, and if I find it hard to lead an "exciting" life now, I can only imagine how distant that concept will be with a child or two on scene.
I guess this is part of the grand cycle of getting older, making choices, becoming more conscious about what path you follow and how you spend your time. What a strange, bittersweet feeling to mourn and long for the person you once were, while at the same time not regretting for one instant the person you've become.