Monday, February 1, 2010

Cheating on myself...

I'm well aware that I have not written in two months. This doesn't mean I've abandoned my blog. Instead, I was taking the celebrity approach to the holidays - like my contemporaries Beyonce and Jude, I decided that I was going to take a holiday from everything. I wanted to recharge my batteries and disappear for a while. I feel like I spend too much of my life in front of a computer screen and too much time away from my family, so I just wanted to nestle into home life and avoid technology (hours of video game playing didn't count, of course).

It was a great decision in a way. On the other hand, I realized that having two completely separate lives can be a bit too emotionally damaging. I don't know how polygamists do it - I'm relatively single and having a double life nearly killed me!

From Fall 2007 to Fall 2009, I lived in London. I never felt like I was living two different lives, even though most of my loved ones were back in the States while I skipped about Europe. I was always sad to leave after holidays at home but not devastated, because I knew we'd see each other soon. And I never felt like I was "home" in England - I knew I wouldn't stay for the long run. Even though I made some of my best friends ever there, friends I will keep and cherish for my whole life, I knew that E1W 2JD wasn't going to be my permanent post code.

When it came time to leave Meadville this year, however, all hell broke loose. I cried for an entire 24 hour period. I threw up. I couldn't even play scrabble because it gave me too much time to think.

On one hand, this was to be expected after having one of the best months of my entire life. There were so many big and little things that left me with lifelong memories. My mom and I took a road trip to Indiana to see some family and had to stay in a cheap motel without heating in a creepy little town straight out of Deliverance. I remember thinking as we laid in bed in our parkas and scarves and ate pizza and drank Bud that this had to be one of the best moments of my life. I saw Avatar with my equally emotional father and laughed at the end when I realized he'd bawled the whole way through the movie too. I had a few wonderful lunch dates with my dear Aunt Kathy, spent some quality time with my cousin Pammy, and caught up with some of my best friends. And I almost broke down when I went to visit my brother's school and heard that he was the top student in his class (this after some well-documented problems over the last couple of years).

On the other hand, there was nothing completely different than previous years. Everything was still wonderful, but not so extraordinary that it should have had such a different influence on me. When I returned to South Africa and landed in Johannesburg, the difference hit me: I actually have a life here! Eeek!

I have a job I love, a great apartment (even better now that I've moved to Cape Town - more on that next update), friends, even a car I like! And I have a surrogate family that feels like an extension of my family at home rather than a replacement.

The problem with liking my life here, and realizing I have one, is that I'm no longer certain I'll ever go back to my old one. And it's terrifying. I'm lucky to be close enough with my family that I know they'll just come and join me if I decide to stay somewhere else forever. But it almost feels like I'm betraying my other life by having such a nice one here. And it makes me sad that I realize I can't really live both of them at the same time.

I'm sure this is a problem that everyone has at some point, but I'm finding it kind of crippling. I've been distracted and grouchy since returning to work down here. I'm confused about what I should do next year - the plan was to go to China or South America, but now I wonder if I should stay here? Or move to NYC? Or maybe start all over and become a park ranger in a remote forest?

Anyways, I'm back on the writing trail now. (Who knows if anyone even reads this, but it is therapeutic). And, while I'm conflicted about my future, and my life as it stands, writing about it is so much fun. South Africa is such an amazing place and sharing it with even one person makes it worthwhile.

Stay tuned for tales of smart cars, flooding, wild zebra attacks, and more!



  1. I read it! I'm glad you're back and not lying dead somewhere (So I'm overly dramatic. Whatever...) And you're totally entitled to a life/identity crisis. It means you're growing.

    I love reading about your adventures. I feel strongly that I will end up over in that direction for work, for at least a few years, so it is good to know that it isn't all scary like the news makes it.

  2. i reads it too :)

    i am so excited to see pics of your new apt - it must be a palace if it is better than the last?!

    can't deny it - i am trying to think of ways to incorporate a trip to SA in my over-ambitious desire to circumnavigate the globe while holding down a full time job :)

    m xx

  3. I can really relate to this post - glad someone else feels the same way. :-)