I’ve realized that there’s another reason I hate Facebook.
I have all these friends from Prague, some closer than others. My closest friends are stationary. They’ve all settled in Prague, have husbands and children (or want them) and go visit family occasionally, on holidays.
Then there’s the friends that are more acquaintances. People I’ve known, like to hear about and genuinely liked, but never got that close to.
The second group is torturous, and I’d prefer they not “friend” me. Not really. But sort of.
There’s H, who’d left law school in England to teach English in Prague for a couple years. While in Prague, she got deeply involved in yoga, became a teacher, and now runs a yoga studio in Malta.
There’s E, who I had a very on-again/off-again friendship with because she was… well, friendly, and nice and I’m sure she meant well, but she was also very pushy and loud and I’m not good with loud. She’d gotten to Prague from the States, lived there for about 5 years and now lives in the Phillipines where she teaches English and got her scuba diving certification.
W, who just left Prague after4 years to go to Thailand with her much younger, British boyfriend. L who’s in Sicily now. S, who just posted a picture of himself skydiving over what appears to be the South Pacific.
Ah, and B. B & I moved to Prague at the same time, to take our TEFL courses & exams. We both came from the Philadelphia area, and she’s in the first group of “close friends.” Before Prague, she’d been all over the world, even spent a year bartending in the Virgin Islands. She stayed in Prague, only for the certification, then went on to Seoul, Korea for a year, and now lives in Chile, where she’ll probably stay forever (unless that Chilean boyfriend of hers convinces her to move with him to Brazil.) She & I see each other whenever we can both arrange to be around Philly, visiting family, at the same time.
I always thought that would be me. That’s what I was setting myself up for, for a life of wandering and adventure and travel. I wanted to learn to surf in South America. I wanted to scuba dive and climb mountains that were too big for me. I wanted to learn another language by immersion. I wanted to get yet another set of pages sewn into my full passport. I wanted to be completely and utterly financially independent and alone for a little while, living in a tiny little flat somewhere with a view of nothing, but castles or beaches or mango trees within a few feet walking distance.
And I’m mourning that now. Because even if I can “still travel,” as everyone keeps trying to reassure me, I can’t take a month to sleep in a hammock on the beach in Costa Rica.
There was always some vital component missing, something that kept me from doing it. Part of it was the way I felt like I kept getting knocked back every time I finally thought I was on the right path. Part of it was that for as much as I wanted all the traveling and wandering, I also was very, very tired of feeling so aimless. Part of me wanted to unpack once and for all. Part of me wanted a partner in crime as badly as I wanted to be completely alone.
Once, when I was home visiting and was at a family picnic, one of my cousins asked what I was up to. I’d been in Prague for 2 years at that point. I mentioned my desire to try something new, wanting to go to Asia. “Must be nice,” he said. “I just watch that stuff on tv.”
I felt lucky for a minute. And I get it. Compared to some, I am lucky. Not a lot of people get to live abroad for any length of time. Comparing, though, doesn’t seem a valid method for easing my wanderlust. Just because person x hasn’t even been out of the country for even a week means I should count my lucky stars that I got to live in Prague for 3 years? I’m not allowed to want more? No matter how many times my mom gives me the speech about “other people don’t get to,” it doesn’t make me think any less about all the other things *I* haven’t gotten to yet. Prague wasn’t enough. Especially considering some of the nightmarish moments I had there.
Saying, “I lived in Prague for three years,” is only enough to make other people think I’m lucky. Not me. I feel unfinished and so much of my time feels wasted.