Since I returned from my travels, and especially since coming to the Central Coast, there’s a thought that’s been nagging at me. One that caught me off guard. One that I didn’t, couldn’t anticipate.
My world feels like it has become suddenly very small.
Between 2011 and 2012, my life suddenly became, well, epic. My world opened up, my horizons broadened. I drove across the country and flew around the world. I saw large cities, small towns, and everything in between. I wandered from the intense urban-ness of New York City all the way to remote islands in the Pacific.
It’s not just the scenery, either.
I met people from all over the globe, from the Japanese girl in Glacier National Park to multiple Brits in New Zealand to the happy locals in Fiji. I even ended my travels in a relationship with a girl from far-off Australia, and if that doesn’t say “worldly”, I’ve no idea what does.
Now, suddenly, my entire world feels like its contracted.
Suddenly, after visiting places like New York City and London, complex, vibrant, diverse places, the small-town atmosphere of the central coast feels confining, rather than liberating.
Suddenly I’m in a small town, with a population of less than fifty thousand people.
Suddenly I’m living in a place over 200 miles away from the nearest major international airport.
Suddenly I’m surrounded by a largely heterogeneous population, lacking not only the diversity of Los Angeles but that of the globe at large.
Suddenly I’m stuck in a job, rather than exploring possibilities.
Suddenly I’m single, my far-flung relationship ripped away from me.
Suddenly the globe-trotting, world-exploring GeekHiker has not only returned to Earth, he’s returned to a tiny town that feels isolated from the rest of the planet.
The irony is, living here is something I always said I wanted to try. Of course, I was saying that before I quit my job and traveled the world for the first time. Is it possible that my perspective, my idea of what I wanted, changed during those travels, and that I didn’t actually realize it until I settled here?
What if everything I thought I wanted wasn’t what I desire now at all?
I’ve been feeling out-of-sorts for the last few weeks, with this feeling pecking away at the back of my thoughts. Wondering if where I am, which IS a wonderful place, which IS a place I always wanted to be, is no longer where I should be. Now that I’ve traveled about significantly for the first time in my life (and finding myself wishing, once again, that I’d done the whole thing in my twenties), I find I feel the pull of far-away exotic places like London, New Zealand, Melbourne. Suddenly SLO, with all its laid-back, lovely small-town atmosphere, feels small, far away, removed from the rest of the world.
And then, as I’m wont to do, I feel guilty, because this IS a wonderful place, and I have a good job and a decent apartment and have really nothing to complain about compared to so many in the world.
Maybe it’s because I had dreams of being here with 1Cent. Maybe it’s because my view of the horizon seems bigger than it was before. Maybe it’s because, like so many, my first foray into international travel has left me with an appetite to see more, travel further, keep moving.
Maybe I just wish I was closer to LAX or SFO.
Whatever the case, it nags at me, this feeling that my world that was large and expansive has suddenly become small.
It feels like a question to which I have no answer.