Hello you beautiful starfish,
I thought I’d follow up my inaugural blogpost with something along the same lines, but a little deeper. Some context for my newfound mission in life – to have it all, or whatever (I say whatever, because “have it all” is so cliché. It also suggests something along the lines of being rich and/or being a parent. Neither of those things is in my foreseeable future).
For me, “having it all” simply means being able to see the world, as well as take care of myself. In other words, not conforming to prescribed ideas of how one “should” (or not) live their life.
So, let’s break it down. What does that entail?
- It means having a roof over my head. It does NOT mean owning a house or a one-bedroom apartment. Or really, any apartment at all. Nomads, if that’s what I end up being, don’t need breakfast nooks.
- It includes comprehensive health insurance and contributions to a retirement plan. Or a job that pays for those things.
- It does not include a car.
- It includes clothes on my back. but it does not include fancy duds, expensive brand names, etc.
I really don’t think this is too much to ask, and/or expect, but already, I’ve met so many people who can’t imagine never owning a car or an apartment (for what it’s worth, I would NOT want to just up and give up all my stuff. I like my stuff. I have spent a lot of money on Grey’s Anatomy DVDs as well as pricey, nerdy board games that I am not going to drop off at Goodwill–I would get a storage unit or beg my parents for room in their basement).
Indeed, I enjoy blowing money on Amazon and Starbucks as much as the next materialist 27-year old American gay guy. But I know that I can do without these luxuries, if need be, to pursue my dreams. And I think that most wanderers would agree with me. If you go on Twitter and look up the kind of things that travelers write about – there’s a ton of stuff like “how to save money to travel” and “how I make my nomadic life work”
Those messages are great. And they’re not unique to travel. People should try to save more money in general, for all kinds of goals in life. And we should all try to better ourselves in any way we can to do big, great things. But again, what bothers me are the blanket sentiments I see everyday anymore—that everyone should live or travel a certain way. I see them on Twitter, and in real life. Though they’re usually from different ends of the spectrum.
In the Twitterverse, everyone is obsessed with this idea of being an impoverished, bohemian, cheapskate that never has to work or worry about anything. As I said before, good for you, but not for me. Actually, good for you, but not for 90% of people in this world. It’s not only naïve, it’s borderline offensive to pretend that “anyone can do it!!” when that’s just not true. And not everyone wants to do it.
In real life, I’m bombarded with the opposite, which is actually kind of depressing. I was getting drinks with some work friends the other night, for example. And these are two great guys, whose opinions I really respect. I like them very much. They’re not small-minded or boring. They both like to travel.
Now, I was the youngest person at the table. I often am, due to the nature my job, where everyone has a PhD and is well-entrenched in their field. So, as per usual, during a moment of slow conversation, I was asked, “So, what do you want to do? What’s next?” and as I’ve usually begun to reply lately to that question, I said, “I just want to travel.”
Both of them assumed that this meant I didn’t want to work. And it wasn’t a negative judgment. It was more of a, “Oh cool, that’s awesome, good for you,” kind of reaction. Which is totally a great reaction to have, thank you for your support! But I wanted to clarify:
- Me: “Ideally I would just find a job where I can travel all the time.”
- Friend #1: “Oh yeah, you should be a travel journalist. Ya know, go write about the world.”
Would that be an awesome life? Of course. Is it super cool that my friend thinks of me as the kind of person that could be successful as a travel journalist? Yes, totally. Is it at all a remote possibility for a true means of income? No fucking way. So again, I continued:
- Me: “Nah, I mean like a real job. It’d be awesome to just have a job where I can work remotely, ya know? Spend a month in Paris. Then a couple of Costa Rica. Just perpetually travel. Something like that.”
- Friend #1: “How would that even work? How could you afford that?”
- Friend #2: “Yeah and would you really want to be working 9-5 while you’re in Paris?”
Damn. Just like that. I was confronted with two age-old questions that I’m sure I will get every time I tell anyone about this dream/plan/eventual reality.
My first friend could not wrap his head around the idea of staying in budget accommodations. When I then mentioned that I also wouldn’t need to necessarily pay rent back home, if I’m spending all my time overseas, and he looked at me like I was joking.
Still, that was easy. My second friend though, I wasn’t really sure how to respond to him. Because, really, there is something like 5 million people who do just that. They live, and work, in Paris, from 9-5. And I’m sure some of them work from home, or from cafes, or make their own schedule, or what have you. And then they go out and do normal things like visit museums and enjoy baguettes and the like.
And so, at that moment, I finally got the inspiration to start writing content for this URL that I purchased months ago. I realized that yes, the idea of “having it all” really is foreign to a lot of people. To them, travel is leisure. Travel is expensive. Travel is temporary, or occasional.
To me, travel is life. Better yet, it’s a way of life. And to be honest, I have no intention to undertake it if it isn’t affordable. I have been to seven foreign countries in the last year, with three more coming up this winter, and I would never have booked those flights if it meant jeopardizing my financial freedom.
Now, is it my be-all, end-all goal to get a job where I can work remotely and simply travel all the time? Not necessarily. That would be a fucking great setup though, and if you are hiring for this kind of position, please get in touch with me right meow so we can talk schedules.
But really, I’m very open-minded. As the number of months to completion of my masters degree from Harvard becomes fewer and fewer, I am looking into possibilities for my future. I’ve been applying to some jobs in Vienna, actually. My bf has been looking at Atlanta (hello, Phaedra). And I plan to expand this pool of possibilities as time goes on. Perhaps we’ll end up in New York or San Fran or Bangkok. But I doubt it will be permanent, I know we’ll still be traveling.
And if the opportunity comes along that I can work remotely and never have to go into the office, you can bet your ass I will be booking some planes to spend the summer in Tuscany, the Fall in South Africa, winter in Thailand, and Spring in Finland. Or something like that.
The bottom line is that, regardless of where I end up, or what I’m doing next, I’ll be exploring. I can’t imagine my life any other way, nor would I want to.
For instance, I don’t love living in Boston. It has its flaws. But I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to intimately know a city like this. And I’m even more grateful to have visited places like Salem, Provincetown, Providence, and the Azores, all of which I probably never would have visited had I not lived here. These adventures are how I’ve stayed sane in a city that I’ve often felt restless in.
But more importantly, I’m super excited for whatever is next. It’s actually quite appropriate that I started blogging now. The last time I blogged, it was right before I embarked on my move to Boston. I guess there’s something about impending change that leads to inspiration.
Moving = my muse.
Speaking of which, my last three years in Boston have been pretty fun. And for those of you who have been waiting for a new blog since 2012, I plan to share stories about all the adventures I’ve had here. There will be some humor, some wanderlust, and a lot of reflections on Boston. Let’s just say I never thought I’d be so loyal to Dunkin Donuts.
Smell ya later, bitches.
– Josh A.
PS is the plural of Starfish actually starfishes? I meant it as a plural, not singular, nounn