I don’t wanna!
Oh, it’s not that I don’t want to go home…but it’s not like I really want to go home either. I don’t want to throw out my raggedy, unflattering nightgown. My t-shirts that should be discarded because they’re overstretched and underpants with shot elastic, my precious tankini worn to see-through-dom; they are a part of me! They bear tales, they bear witness to my feats of being elsewhere than ‘normal’! When I get home I know their magic will be gone and they’ll be nothing but worn out rags.
At some points I know I looked forward to routine; to knowing what food I would eat for all foreseeable meals; to ‘getting on with it’, whatever ‘it’ is. But now on the cusp, all I can see is the trees instead of the forest…
–Polly’s journal, May 4th, 2009
I arrived home on May 6th, one year ago today. It’s interesting to have a vivid milestone in your memory, that you can use to measure a year in your life. I had no idea if I would find a job; I didn’t know some relationships would end and some would grow. I didn’t know that some things that seemed like lucid clear epiphanies when I was traveling (“I should do my PhD!”) would seem diluted, not quite right when I got home. (“But I want to do something practical…I’d like to get more involved with business as well as technology…”) As a first step I am taking a project management course at Royal Roads university. I decided to do it partially out of interest, and partially out of frustration that after six months of traveling and thinking about future directions and ‘finding myself” (…um, turns out I was right there all along?) that I felt no closer to knowing what I wanted to do next. I have always had great admiration for friends and family who have a clear vision of what they would like to make of their lives. It’s something I’ve struggled with a long time, but I take comfort in knowing that the first step is looking for that vision – and not giving up if it is frustratingly elusive.
So what is now, and what is next? I love my job, working for Serials Solutions on Summon, an exciting new search platform that aims to bring researchers back into libraries. I am working from a home office, and was until recently working on contract, which I’ve always wanted to try. Though I am now a full-time employee I hope to keep doing some small contracts on the side. I’m enjoying the project management course, and have had a chance to put some of what I’m learning into practice at work as well. We’re merging with a company in Amsterdam, and I was able to combine a work trip in March with a few extra days holiday over there. Though I could do my work from anywhere, my wanderlust seems (mostly, sometimes) in check these days. I feel so fortunate to enjoy the comforts of great friends nearby; of finding local adventures and exotic things in my own backyard. I am so blessed.
So maybe that is the source of my frustration; looking back at my first post, I still feel like I haven’t given back. This trip was my dream for so long; how many people actually get to accomplish their ‘big crazy audacious’ dreams? I think of Shirley, and I wonder what she would tell me these days. “Follow your heart”, yes, yes. But what if your heart has A.D.D.? I go through phases of concentrating on learning new technologies, either for my job or out of interest; of feeling a real yen to have my own company, whether it’s a contracting-based one or a more entrepreneurial venture; of chastising myself for not writing more, and more specifically making any effort to be published anywhere, ever. I could learn Spanish and set off for South America this winter, for at least a few months. I am very intrigued by the MBA program at Stanford’s Center for Social Innovation, and the growing trend for micro-loans in developing countries and the combination of that with social computing, through platforms like Kiva. I just haven’t figured out how all these puzzle pieces fit together.
Who knows what a year can bring?