Thursday, December 11, 2008

Four Months is All it Takes

On December 12, I will have been in Santiago for four months. Four months. A quarter of a year. A solid chunk of time.

As I walked to the corner store to stock up on honey and fruits, I considered my four months here. And it came to me that four months is my mark. I now know that four months is the amount of time it takes for me to move from my home country to a foreign country and feel like the foreign country is home.

I know this by a few important indications. These indications might be something that applies to everyone who makes an attempt to live elsewhere, but since I don’t know everyone, I’m claiming these ones as mine:

Indication #1: I’m dreaming of something other than Chile.
The thing about living out one’s dream is that suddenly there’s space for new ones. Currently I’m dreaming of becoming Elizabeth Gilbert who wrote Eat, Pray, Love—basically someone who writes their personal stories and gets paid for it! I feel like I have trained my whole life for this career as I have something like fifteen to twenty journals chronicling my dull years of 13 through now. This dream of course means that I will be needing a second career to earn a living until I become like Liz.

Since this idea has come to me, I’ve spent many evening hours trying to research magazines where I could write personal essays. So far, I have found one magazine offering $35 per essay…if they accept it. Being like Elizabeth Gilbert will be slightly more difficult than I originally thought. But I am not deterred.

Every night when I stay up till 1am writing and have trouble sleeping because I’m so excited about it is another day that seals the deal for me. There’s nothing else, besides friends and a good solid dance party, that keeps me up that late.

Indication # 2. I feel lonely.
I feel lonely but it’s a different kind of lonely these days. Not nagging homesickness, but a familiar loneliness. The kind I felt when I had my own editing business and spent many hours wandering the small hall of my apartment, trying to get through 400 pages of a mediocre manuscript. Freelancer loneliness has found me. This has strangely buoyed my spirits. It means that instead of the feelings associated with travel (survival thoughts of food, clothing, shelter and transportation), the feelings associated with living have come to call.

Indication # 3. I’ve yet again decided I need to exercise more.
I love to exercise. I’m either walking or running or dancing or yoga-ing at least four out of seven days. But my mental health depends on all seven days occupied with exercise. I know this. So this thought of exercising is like a slightly annoying yet dear friend coming to stay—comforting, sure, but you kinda wish she’d leave. (I might have to exercise more to get rid of her).

Indication # 4. I don’t pay attention to metro maps and signs anymore.
This one is funny. I’m so absentminded these days on the metro, that sometimes I get on the wrong side of the tracks and head in the completely opposite direction of where I want to go. Or other times, I’ll be so excited to continue my day, to get home, to be somewhere, that as soon as the doors open, I step off the train. It’s only when the doors close behind me that I realize I have exited two stops early. When I first got here, I was so worried about going the wrong direction, but now I know how easily fixable such a mistake is. In fact, it’s so easily fixable it doesn’t really seem like a mistake at all but rather a pleasant detour on my daily journey through Santiago.

And so, after four months, I am here. All of me, including all the worries and familiar thoughts that have consistently followed me here, like invisible balloons permanently tethered to my head.

In some way, I kind of wish I left some it at home. But I guess we don’t just bring our good parts with us when we travel, do we?

Where ever we go, there we are.


Que te vaya bien,
C in C

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