I’ve felt like a bit of a vagabond for some time … Maybe it was the first taste of what it was like to arrive in a country without checked in baggage back in 2008-9 when I visited Dublin for the first time, or maybe it was the 2010 almost-year of wandering about without a job or fixed address that really did it for me. Regardless, it sometimes feels strange to wander about my apartment and realise I have flat mates sitting on the couch watching TV while I fold laundry or have a vague sense of displacement when I step off the bus to meet a co-worker for lunch before work.
It feels good to be settled. Even though my books are in boxes in another country and my favourite items haven’t seen daylight for several months because they’re packed in tissue paper and bubble wrap, I still feel like I’ve managed to make a home for myself here despite the small time that has passed since I arrived.
For over a year I kept telling myself I’d get around to buying a proper desk when I had a better idea of where I’d be since I was living month-to-month, and I would commit to a phone contract when I knew I’d definitely be in the one country for the bulk of the two years required, and I managed to convince myself that it was better to stay single since it meant no one was tying me down if I wanted to flee the country at short notice. And yet, for over one year, I was in one place. Sure, I travelled a bit for work, lived interstate for two months, and attempted a relationship … but I was in a fixed place for over a year. Despite this, I couldn’t admit that I was settled. Rather, I didn’t want to accept that the place I was in was where I was going to stay (literally and figuratively).
It’s very easy to look at things in retrospect. The funny thing is when you realise that you’re still partially living back there, too.
I found myself looking at a gorgeous jewellery box at a store this afternoon and gently placed it back on the shelf after reminding myself that I’ll have to move and the more I accumulate now the more I’ll have to transport later, blah blah blah same-old story. I walked out of the store and immediately felt regret – regret for not purchasing the jewellery box and regret for the thoughts that indicated I feel my existence is – still – temporary.
I slipped into my vagabond ways quickly – habits take a long time to break. Despite having my lovely bed linen and my coffee machine, my head spins at the idea I’m “settled”. It’s not that I don’t enjoy it or even like it, it’s that I am in a different place – literally and figuratively – and I have to change my thoughts around this. My contract is temporary when placed in the “grand scheme of things”, however it’s also more permanent than anything has been in my life for quite some time. Sitting on the bus to go to work, I realised that it was not just a jewellery box I had put back on the shelf. It was a gorgeous vintage-style porcelain jewellery box printed with French words and old-fashioned stamps.
So I’m going to go back and buy it when I’m next at the store, because if I leave that jewellery box on the shelf and continue to keep my jewellery in the recycled Ferrero Rocher box by my bed, I’ll never take my commitments seriously. Not to mention the fact that I need to take myself seriously. Grown ups don’t keep their treasured jewellery in chocolate boxes, right? Well, maybe the quirky ones do, but surely no sensible person would choose a chocolate box over a gorgeous taupe and gold porcelain jewellery box?
I’m here for two years. I already feel quite settled and once I banish the habitual thoughts of “in my next apartment … ” or “when I leave this place … ” perhaps my habits will change, too. I don’t want to be a hoarder but I also want to stop compromising on the things I want. Yes, there will be a “next” apartment, and yes, I will leave this country eventually. But right now, this is my life, and I’m going to enjoy every part of it. Especially the jewellery box by my bed and the knowledge that when I do move it will come with me.