When I checked into the Boscolo Venezia Marriott, I noticed confusion on the gentleman’s face, like he was unsure about something. Yes, I am staying alone in this magnificent room you just gave me that I didn’t ask for. He just smiled. “It says you are a Lifetime Platinum Premier member. But you’re just so….young.”
I won’t tell you how many nights you need to stay in a chain of hotels to achieve lifetime status, but it is a lot. While this isn’t exactly something I am proud of, his observation reminded me of how I am exactly where I need to be right now. Of how much I needed to quit my job, change my life. A nice reminder, a necessary one. Because sometimes I forget what my life was like before March 2014.
Taking an extended leave of absence from the Rat Race has released the firm grip Time wound around my teeny tiny chubby infant ankles the moment I started bitching that whiny cry only adorable babies (and I was adorable) can get away with. When I struggled with some of the not-so-fun-stuff that comes with Quitting Your Job and leaving Life as You Know It earlier in the year, to make me feel better, to calm my nerves, people who had taken similar leaps of faith talked about how Time on the road would rush by at infinite speeds; don’t fret, enjoy it all, soak it up, because I would be home before I knew it. At the time, all I could envision was a paper calendar. Was I making a mistake? Could I really just check out for that long? Because 15 months is a LOT of calendar flipping.
But it wasn’t long before I became very aware of just how right they were.
For the past few months, Time simply ceased to exist. I no longer care much about the position of clock hands, as I operate on the sun’s schedule. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere developed an entirely new meaning. I have a daily struggle with the question, coffee, beer or wine (and in Italy, it doesn’t matter, coffee, aperitifs, spritz for everyone, every day, all day long!!) I am more relaxed than I’ve ever been, no deadlines, no planning, letting suggestions from others and offers of free couches drive my travel itinerary.
I still sometimes forget what day it is, preferring to pretend every day is Thursday, my favorite day of the week. Why Thursday? I have this personality defect where, back in the Real World, I sometimes enjoyed the anticipation of the coming weekend more than the actual weekend itself, because as soon as it started, it was already almost over. I used to be confused by this feeling, but it makes sense if you liken it with approaching a city skyline.
Take Chicago for example, the most beautiful sight your eyes behold after a three-plus frustrating hour drive down I-90 from Wisconsin. As much as I disagree with Chicago, she sure does look fantastic and full of promise from afar. But as soon as you enter the city, get up close and personal, it’s harder to see the big picture, the beauty of it all, as Real Life suffocates the not so distant dreamy skyline image in your mind. The beauty of five minutes ago is overpowered by the endless stream of people rushing, always rushing, sometimes past the hard times, past other people’s reality, honking horns, exhaust, The Joneses. (Yes, fans of Chicago, I know there are super amazing parts of the city too. But that isn’t the point I am making, because it would be a very hard point for me to personally make.) I commuted to Chicago from Madison for a few years for work and experienced this awe-turned-to-ugh moment again, and again. Turns out, most cities are places I would rather approach indefinitely, without ever breaking the city threshold.
So that’s what it means to have every day feel like Thursday; an infinite approach to the weekend, the city skyline, to possibility. And weekends in the rat race are synonymous with freedom. The thought of what you can do with all that “Free Time” is sometimes more intoxicating than how you actually end up spending that oh-so-precious Time. We all have big dreams on Thursday, just to let the weekend, daily life crap, lack of motivation, *insert reason here*, suck them dry.
And now, as I traverse through Europe, making my way to Prague where an airplane will take me back to the United States of America on December 11, Thursday has finally turned to Friday. Yes, the countdown has begun. In 21 days, my Once Upon a Time Never-Ending See the World Journey, will come to an end. And I can already feel Time nipping at my ankles.
If you decided to do the math, you probably figured out March -> December is only nine-ish months. And since I am ending this adventure six months earlier than planned, maybe you are assuming I ran out of money. I didn’t. Volunteering for six of the nine months, incredibly generous friends in awesome countries, and the realization my bank account has nowhere to go but down, has had the combined effect of barely making a dent in my budget.
No, my reasons for returning to America have nothing to do with money and everything to do with love.
Because I am marrying someone.
(how’s that for a cliffhanger)