It hit me that this is the first time in close to a year that I’ve been in the same country for two months. “Normal” life became living in anticipation of my next transition: my next trip, or my next stint in Wisconsin, working and saving money. So while living in a new city still involves new discoveries, new pasttimes, and new friends, I’ve also had the awareness that being in Wellington for a few more months, as planned, will involve some new challenges for a person like me who’s gotten accustomed to perpetually packing up and leaving.
I realize this is an unusual dilemma for (maybe) a majority of people. Aside from the full-time travelers I meet, most people find comfort in staying in the same place, in growing where they’ve planted. I’ve lived that life, and probably will go back to some shape of that–at some unknown point in the future. But as of late, my comfort zone has been the notion of leaving–of experiencing one segment of life fully for a few weeks, then moving onto the next adventure.
My challenge is to make living in Wellington an adventure. And it is–with the plethora of activities and cultural events and friendly people. As is usually the case for me, and maybe with most people, it’s my own mind that can interfere. So I’m pushing myself to not fear routines–the same bus ride, or a similar weekly schedule, or seeing familiar people around the city (300,000 in the metro area can really feel like a small town after a while).
Staying in one place can make me nervous because movement has always given me freedom. Freedom to, instead of facing fears, run to the next place and pick a new goal to tackle. Freedom to bolt from wherever relationships or friendships have fizzled or are in a tough place. Not just this past year, but since 18 I’ve found relief in the ability to move myself across the country, feeling freer while in motion, on a plane, train, bus, or car, than I ever felt staying put. But I did try the staying-in-one-place thing once, and learned to love that life, which can serve as a reminder now.
Being in this half-traveling, half-living phrase is a privilege I’m grateful for. I’m able to experience a new culture, establish temporary roots that can develop into lifelong connections, and build upon my passions and erode my fears: by performing original songs at the same open mic every week, by rehearsing with the same ukulele band, by socializing with warm, welcoming friends, and by continuing to seek out new opportunities to feel involved both here and back in the tumultuous U.S., like political action and empowerment groups.
I’m striving to breathe in the discomfort I might experience out of my comfort zone by staying in one place for awhile. Like any habitual urge, I’ll itch to be on the move from time to time. And the key will be finding that balance between embracing daily life here, and knowing when it’s okay to pack a weekend bag and explore a new part of New Zealand.
Have any other travelers navigated this kind of half-traveling/half-living phase? What has helped you find balance between growing where you are and quenching your wanderlust?