This bubble in time

Lately I’ve been feeling as if I’m in a bubble. A delicate bubble of time that’s about to burst open. I’m hanging in the quiet balance before impact, before all of the wind and sound come rushing in.

I’ve been home for about two months now, back for another pause between trips. The fact that this is my life, that I’ve spent the better part of a year traveling, is still quite surreal to me, while feeling completely natural at the same time. The oddity of it only setting in at dinner parties when I tell people what it is I’m doing with my life. And the fact that this is my life makes me recognize how supremely privileged and fortunate I am, because while I made a conscious decision to live this way, the reason I am able to has nothing to do with my own merits and  everything to do with the circumstances I was born into and the people I’ve met along the way.

I’m living in a bubble because I’ve been riding the currents of this travel life for five years now. Never quite setting my feet down in one place for too long. A fact that I’m certain sets my parents on edge. A fact that can also set me on edge sometimes if I give it too much thought, but it’s a way of life that I am not ready to give up, not if I have any choice in the matter.

As the nice girl I met at the cafe put it, I’ve been living a “gypsy existence”. Sure, I’ve been a “gypsy”, a nomad. More accurately, my partner and I have been gypsies, nomads. And during our stints away, gone for months at a time, I’m always surprised by how adaptable I can be. How living out of a carry-on bag is actually very do-able. How, the diva that I am, I can be okay with not having a full wardrobe and my 20 plus lipsticks. Of course, as my partner will tell you, I still have my moments. Moments of despising the same two pairs of pants I’ve been wearing for the past few months or of wishing I could just bake some cookies, chill out on the couch and cuddle our cat for a while. But, on the whole, leaving behind the creature comforts is not as painful as I maybe once imagined. In fact, it’s very liberating in many ways. Realizing how when you’re constantly engaged — moving, seeing, learning, absorbing — you need very little to hold you in place.

And now that we’re back in Amsterdam, I’ve adapted once again. Easily sinking into the comforts of a routine. Taking great pleasure in those creature comforts, too. The pleasures of making a home; hanging up my jewelry, cooking dinner, smelling the roses I arranged in a reused glass jar. The tangible, physical things that offer so much pleasure. I become accustomed to the beauty of my space, to the ease and productivity of a routine, to the fixity I make in the flux.

Yet at the same time, when you’re only home for a few months and you know you are going to leave again, a lot of these things can seem pointless. Why unpack everything? Why make your life settled and cozy when you’re just going to pick up and leave again? What’s the point? Why invest in my surroundings, in making new social connections, when I know that soon I will have to let go?

But there is danger in this thinking too, it’s much like the question of why make your bed in the morning if you’re just going to sleep in it again at night? Why do these things that, on some level are entirely futile, and on another, are entirely essential? And when I think about it, when I force myself to give this feeling of futility a good long stare, I see in it one of those hidden lessons. That, of course, you nest anyway. You try to build something in whatever time you have anyway. You soak it all up anyway. Because when I set foot in a new city, I don’t hesitate to jump right in. To drink up the sights, to eagerly try out all of the local food, to make friends with the people I meet, even though I know I only have a few days. So why should my approach to life at home be any different?

Soon, we will take back up our nomadic existence, and in the meanwhile, I’m just living. Resolving to approach this moment as I approach a new place. Jumping in, even though I know I will say goodbye soon. Because when we get down to it, we never know how long we have, but we know for sure that it’s never very long.


Photos taken by Andra Stefan of Amsterdamming. For more on how I’m spending this time home, check out her A Day in the Life feature of me.

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1 Comment

  1. Liisa - Studying the World September 14, 2018 at 11:42 am

    This really resonated with me. I live between London and Amsterdam and spend a lot of time travelling, so I’ve had to ask myself many of the same questions. Constant travel also means that I’ve become less active than I was when I was just living in one place – before, going out in the evenings, keeping on top of the cultural calender etc came naturally, now I have to make an effort and sometimes force myself off the sofa (particularly on days when we’re jetlagged). But it is a huge privilege, too, so I’m trying to enjoy it to the fullest while it lasts.


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