Posted by: GeekHiker | August 23, 2013

Small World

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.

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Responses

  1. hey GH – it sounds like the move includes a huge culture shift component, and that can be pretty unsettling. Just because the local population seems heterogeneous (i.e. is of similar ancestry), does not mean that everyone is the same – the differences are just more subtle…. at least that was my experience moving from seattle-ish to a college town of under 60K souls (I think that’s only when school is in session). And really, how much diversity is needed for a good hike? :-) Looking forward to reading about GH exploring small-city life.

    • Diversity may not be needed for a good hike, but it does help in the search for hiking partners. More than anything else, it seems that the area is mostly full of either young college kids or families. The middle-aged single crowd? Not so much…

  2. I think the reality is that you’ve had some MAJOR changes in your life not to mention the change from your transient lifestyle which alone would make a person feel restless. What I’m trying to say is that I think this abnormal feeling is normal. Just be patient with yourself and with those around you-it’ll take a long time, but you’ll adapt, and discover new adventures. :)

    • Me? Patient with myself? I think you know me better than that…

      • Hey, I gave my unsolicited advice. you don’t have to take it! :)

  3. The world hasn’t shrunk, your mind has expanded. Now that you know what’s out there it is hard to let it go.

    Since you have read my blog you know that I have the same regrets about not doing stuff earlier in my life. One thing I have discovered in the last couple of years is it’s never too late. I’m sure your job offers some vacation time. Use that time to continue your explorations. Pick a city, not restrict to the US naturally, and explore it for a week. Go to a small country for a week and explore. Just because you live in tiny little SLO doesn’t mean you have to give up on the world.

    You had a taste of the big world out there – Don’t let it go.

    • I see what you’re saying, and I definitely agree with your philosophy. Only thing getting in my way now is, starting a new job, it’ll be a while before I’ll be able to take any time off…

  4. I like what Bruce said better. Vote for Bruce!

  5. I feel you on this one. I definitely have pangs of woe when I get into the city again. But I know I don’t want to live in the city (just like you didn’t dig living in LA).

    I honestly think you just need to start planning another adventure.

    Maybe this isn’t how it goes for you, but for me the best balance is living somewhere low-key, small town, and comfy and then planning wonderful travels to other places as often as I can. But I always want that home base I can come back to. And I think we’re in the best place on the planet for a wonderful home base.

    You know, you can always come down to Solvang if you want to pretend you’re in Europe for the day. ;) You might even meet some visiting Danish people!

    • Oh, man, I could write such a long post from this. I think that your comfortability around the concept of a small-town home has a lot to do with the concept of “home”, the one that you’re currently building with Mr. W. Like I said, a long post. ;)


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