It’s difficult to write fairly and honestly about the four-month anniversary of our decision to travel through Europe together. It’s taken me five days to get around to it.
Some friends back home have told me that I’m an inspiration. They say I’m living the dream. In a few cases, my decision to ditch out on life as I knew it to go traveling has served to motivate a similar, devil-may-care approach to important decisions in their lives which otherwise might have been made with more trepidation if not put off for another, braver day.
Once, when I was having a bad day, I was told by one friend back in Chicago that I had forfeited my right to complain when I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime while everyone else was slaving away performing menial tasks for just enough money to drink away their precious few hours of free time every night. I have taken some artistic license with this friend’s exact words but this is essentially what they said.
It was a bit harsh but I understood what it was that they were saying.
The other day we took an hour-long ferry ride to the Prince’s Islands with some friends and went swimming on a secluded, rocky beach in the cold waters of the Sea of Marmara. We were going to drop by the island of Büyükada to see the house where Leon Trotsky — hero of the Russian Revolution and arch-nemesis of Joseph Stalin — lived during the first four years of his exile from the Soviet Union, but we ran out of time. I’ll wind up taking another trip out there to make up for it.
I’m certainly living a more interesting life than I could be.
I was once in a touring band. I’ve visited most of the states that make up my homeland. I had been outside of my own country five different times before we set out for Europe in February. I’ve demonstrated, marched, sat-in for important causes and sometimes the side I was the winning side. I’ve spoken at large and energetic rallies and I’ve gone head to head with government representatives in court rooms and city council chambers. I’ve been to jail (not prison) more than once. I’ve lived under the poverty line for all of my adult life. I’ve gotten into enough fistfights to know I’m not made out of glass. I’ve never been shot at but I’ve come closer than you might think.
I have a lot of stories, which I won’t write down, about things that I’ve done and situations that I’ve found myself in throughout the years.
I’m not prone to long-term boredom and I didn’t leave my country just to get a little excitement. I left my country to learn things. I left to be inspired. I left to live life in new ways and see the world with some fresh perspective. Most of all I left to find new sources of motivation and ambition as my old wells had all gone dry.
I didn’t leave to resettle somewhere and develop a new routine.
It was inevitable. We both knew that. As exciting as it was to wander through various new countries, taking in as much as possible as we hurriedly stumbled along, neither of us were under the delusion that it would last forever. We came to İstanbul in order to find work and pay our way because that’s what needed to be done.
All the same, it’s something I’m struggling with.
It’s not the case that we’re here for a season before we shove off for unfamiliar ports in distant lands once again. Traveling now is something to do after saving up and organizing the time off from work. It has essentially become the same sort of affair that it was in the past, that it is for a lot of people. The difference is that home base is a lot closer to places that once seemed impossibly far away.
Nathan has found what he was looking for here and he’s now in a great position to do what he wants to do for the long-term. I think that’s fantastic. I have found some of what I was looking for along the way as well. I’ve found a little bit here and there all across Portugal, Spain, Italy, Malta, and Turkey.
But now I find myself wondering how to proceed.