Scratching an Itchy Soul
Let me preface this post by saying that I love our apartment. I love having an oven and a closet. Walking to the beach. Speaking English. Not being stared at.
But it’s happening again. The itch.
Only this time, it’s a little bit different. It started after my mom came for a spontaneous visit. We checked out all of my favorite spots in Newcastle. Drank coffee. On my 32nd (ohmygod! 32!) birthday, we went to a bridal boutique.
And as I tried on dress after dress, I realized that they were all the same. Different, but the same. I have no illusions about picking out a wedding dress: it doesn’t need to be life-changing. It doesn’t need to be magical. It certainly doesn’t need to cost an average of $2400, which these dresses did.
Standing there, looking at myself in yet another white flowing gown festooned with sparkles and/or embellishments that I specifically said I did not want, I wondered what the heck I was doing.
Why was I wearing a dress I didn’t particularly care for that was way out of my budget? Why, when the woman told me its price, did I nod as if I am the kind of girl who appreciates French Chantilly lace? (If you are that kind of girl, this is not a criticism. That is totally fine. I’m just not that girl.)
And then BAM!
I was hit with an urge to be in Southeast Asia. Breathing in traffic fumes, eating questionable soup on a sidewalk, scrubbing sandal-shaped streaks of dirt off the top of my feet.
A few days later, it was Europe. I wanted to be cycling through a field of French wildflowers, baguette tucked under my arm, the winds of freedom whispering through my hair.
As I write this, I realize that it sounds like I’m getting cold feet about the wedding.
That’s not it.
Jared and I have been building a little nest, albeit a rented one. I’m applying for casual part-time jobs and getting rejected at lightning speed. It seems that having a jumble of international jobs in ten years isn’t appealing to conventional employers.
I’m doing what society expects me to be doing.
I’m getting sucked in.
And that freaked me out a little, because I forgot the most important thing:
Nothing is carved in stone.
Jared and I are where we are because we chose to be here. Choosing to be here now doesn’t mean choosing to be here forever. I’m free to do online work and write, which is really everything I ever wanted. Saying yes to Australia today doesn’t mean saying no to Southeast Asia tomorrow.
It sounds fickle when I see these words in print, and we actually have no intention of selling everything off and moving to France. I’m happy here. The first draft of my memoir is thisclose to being finished, wedding planning is chugging along, and I can’t wait for summer to kick off. Besides that, we’re still waiting on my visa so we aren’t exactly mobile.
Remembering that it’s still possible to do whatever I want has revived my creative spirit.
My mom decided to come to Australia with six days’ notice. It reminded me that we are the ones that make things happen in our lives, not the intangible expectations fencing in our behavior.
My life, like whatever wedding dress I eventually choose, may look different (but the same). I don’t expect it to be more special or better than anyone else’s life. I just expect it to reflect me and my choices.
As soon as I realized that I was still free to choose my path, every step of the way, the itch started to subside.
Travelers often talk about itchy feet, but I think it’s more like an itchy soul. When you feel it, that gnawing on your insides, or a nagging feeling that something is off-kilter, it doesn’t mean that everything has to change. It just means that you might be neglecting a part of your spirit. Your intuition is trying to get your attention.
In my case, it was a reminder that I need to reclaim the feeling I had in my early days of travel – the belief that anything can happen, even on the most ordinary kind of day.
Also that Chantilly lace might be pretty, but I don’t have to pretend like it matters to me if it doesn’t.