So, I left Remote Year. I'm traveling alone.
I spent a blissful 10 days in Dubrovnik. I spent every meal in solitude. I lounged on the beach, listening to the chatter of several languages around me - conversations in which I didn't have to partake. I climbed the city walls, kayaked in the Adriatic without a partner. I worked my pattotey off, completely out of passion. My passion for my work and the bliss I found in solo travel fed each other, building in a beautiful snowball effect of awesome.
I was on my own schedule, victim to only my whims. I didn't have a checklist of sights to see, adventures to have. It was sorta-kinda-planned serendipity, - serendipity designed by Taylor and no one else.
And it was fucking fantastic. In Dubrovnik, I was on cloud nine all the time. Dubrovnik felt like healing, like a big hug when you're sad or like a hot bath after a chilly day. Croatia is a friend that I can't wait to introduce to everyone.
That's the blissful side to solo travel.
And then there's the other side.
Today, I'm in Vienna. I've wanted to come to Vienna for a long time. It's a Taylor kind of a city - art, architecture, history, etc...
But for some reason, it all feels kinda "meh."
The glittering palaces aren't inspiring a sense of wonder. Nor are the museums or the cafes or the sunny skies, admittedly nice after rainy days in Salzburg. I'm finding myself strolling the beautiful streets, fantasizing about meal planning. Meal planning. I'm strolling Vienna, wishing I were in the fucking produce section of Harris Teeter.
Maybe I'm sick of cities and should have allotted some time in a village or two in the alps. Or, maybe, the honeymoon of solo travel has worn off.
Because here's the truth, something I talked about with Tortuga's cofounders a few weeks ago:
Travel is more fun when you get to come home.
Until I FedEx-ed my newly-signed lease from London to NYC, I didn't know where "home" would be. I left via a one-way ticket to Uruguay without an idea of where I'd live next, or when. "Not Durham" is not exactly enough direction to conceptualize a feeling of home.
But now I know where I'm going. As soon as the option was there, it felt right.
I'm strolling Vienna dreaming of the mundane because it feels like I'm in purgatory, waiting for the next iteration of life to start. Beautiful, privileged purgatory, yes. But still an in-between, still not where my heart is. Or my mind, clearly.
I have a home now. A home I've only seen via Skype, a home that doesn't have furniture yet and won't feel cozy at all. It does contain my Jeffers, though, and it offers stability and routine. God, I want stability again.
I don't want to fall out of love with travel.
Dubrovnik proved that I hadn't.
Vienna is proving that it's still a possibility.
Which brings me to another, semi-related thought:
Why do I mostly write about the downsides of digital nomadism?
Because dang, reading through my catalog of posts is downright depressing. No wonder my aunt was worried about me.
I'm fine. Happy, even.
No, really. Shit's good.
Here's why this blog reads as otherwise:
- I wasn't happy in South America
- I wrote a lot in South America
- I've been mostly (very) happy in Europe
- I've written next to nothing in Europe
- I write out of passion, nothing else, and that itch to write happens when I feel blue
- My best writing comes out of malaise
- When I'm happy, I don't want to be in front of my computer.
And, of course, I started writing colloquial.ly as a foil to all of the misleading "work from the beach!!!" digital nomad blogs out there. The downsides aren't covered, not really.
And I don't gush, as a rule. When I'm happy, it's almost a private experience. Shared happiness is really just shared with the people present. I forget that not everyone operates that way. With my friends, it's easier - Brendan and I tell each other the bad, but still understand that the great is there, because we can see it on each other's faces.
You can't see my face. You can't hear my laugh. Jeff and I had tons of happy moments together abroad, but I didn't talk about those - I told you about the hard part.
Every joy is unique, every tragedy common.
A musing from an ex I adored, one that's stuck with me.
I don't think you need to hear about my unique joy. I don't think you even want to, unless you're my dad or, like, Chloe.
But I do think that someone needs to know that their tragedy is common. Someone reading this will relate, will have strolled an exotic location, wondering why the wonder is so elusive. Someone will have embarked on a grand adventure, just to find their dreams changing to the mundane.
My six months abroad have not been tragedy. I've made lifelong friends, explored the world, laughed and snuggled and danced.
But there have been plenty of hard moments, moments that aren't unique. Moments that I haven't read on other blogs, not in connection to nomadism, no matter how common they might be. I'm offputtingly direct and will tell you the emotional stuff that other people won't talk about.
I'm good at communicating the hard. I think descriptions of the tough moments should exist in a public forum. So I'll state them.
That's why this blog might read as depressing.
Not because my relationship is doomed (hardly), not because I'm depressed (nope, definitely past the divorce depression).
Because I'm selectively honest, just like the idyllic pictures of nomadic life I critique.
Really, I'm no different. I'm only telling you the downside, and they're only telling you the good. Blend us together and you get a more balanced picture of what it's like to travel the world full-time.
PS: Brendan, I miss your blog posts. You are my favorite writer in the whole world and I want to read more of your stuff. Please. Pleasepleaseplease. In case pleading doesn't work: I'll mail you all the cilantro I can find if you don't send me at least one of your unfinished novels.
Taylor Coil is a marketing manager who works remotely from around the world.