Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thanks for all your comments and words of wisdom

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Wow. I'm overwhelmed by all the thoughtful and wonderful and long comments I received on my last post! I am so lucky to have such great readers. I have decided to dedicate this post to those awesome comments and words of wisdom.

But before I address individual comments, I have a few comments of my own.

One recurring theme that came up in the comments is that maybe if I meet the right person, I will want to change. This is true. Absolutely. I do not close myself off to that possibility. Not at all. I do recognize that while it's unlikely, I am totally capable of meeting a Bostonian guy who wears Red Sox hats and khakis and has never lived abroad and never wants to but he has all the other qualities that I'm looking for in someone. If he makes me really happy. If he makes me fall for him. If we have an amazing connection and amazing chemistry. If we have a great time together. If he challenges me and supports me and loves me. Then everything else is negotiable. I think  Catherine said it so well:

Maybe you'll meet someone who will want to change for you.
 Perhaps you'll meet someone you want to change for.
 Perhaps what you want will change

I love that. It's so perfect. It leaves all the doors of possibility open.

But until I meet that guy, then I'm going to keep the ever evolving list in my head of the perfect man for me at this time in my life. And I'm not going to feel bad about having those standards or wanting those ideals just as I'm not going to rule out someone I really connect with because he doesn't check all the boxes.

I've been reading Elizabeth Gilbert's book called Committed - the follow up to Eat Pray Love - which is absolutely amazing by the way and I highly recommend it to everyone (I will most likely be blogging about this at some point). She talks a lot about the beauty of modern Western culture is that we have so many choices, but it's also the problem with our culture. With all those choices, comes decisions and with decisions, comes choices that we didn't take. And with that can come doubt and uncertainty. We ask ourselves did we take the right path in life? And what would our lives look like if we went down another path? What is the best path to happiness? And that's where I'm at right now, trying to figure out what the best path to happiness is. What truly makes me happy...

Okay... now on to your awesome comments:

First Date Only - I totally understand what you are saying. I have found myself saying things like "the other day when I was in Moscow" (this was a couple Christmas' ago when I was visiting the US after extensive travels), or more recently commenting on how the last time I had great Italian food was in Rome (oops - this was more recent and kind of popped out before I could filter the thought better). I never mean to sound pretentious. Like you said, it's just my experience!

Robin - Wow! Moscow. Awesome. I've visited many times and have always wondered what it would be like to live there. Looking forward to checking out your blog!

Claudy - where were you when I needed you? And why did I not know you when I was in the UK? I would never make you wash dishes in Bali. Option "c" sounds like a fabulous deal to me. Are you serious? If you are, I'm so in! ;)

Katie @Domestiphobia - Oh how you tease me... Just close all 3 doors and open another one. That's kind of a good idea actually. Although I secretly think that you are tempting me to run away with you again. How about Spain? I've always wanted to live in Madrid. Or Buenos Aires perhaps?

Well this is awkward - It's funny because you mention that you are only 22 and of course my initial thought is to be insanely jealous of you for your youth and wish that I was 22 again. And in my second more rational thought (because backward time travel is unfortunately totally irrational as far as I know, right)? I then think about what advice I would give you... And ironically the first advice that pops into my head is: travel, travel, travel. See the world! Broaden your horizons! Meet lots of great people. So, I guess you are right, I shouldn't (and probably don't) have any regrets if that is my impulsive advice to you is that you should go out and do the same things I did (rather than choosing a more traditional path in life). But I think you show wisdom beyond your years with the following: 

I also agree that while traveling can be eye opening and you are often happy doing it, sometimes it can contribute to your overall sadness, especially when you move back "home." 

You are right! I think all my traveling right now is contributing to my overall sadness.

Pretty Young Thing - As always, thanks for the support. I'm glad that you are getting a taste of the travel bug. And you are right! I should come to NYC and hang out for a weekend. I LOVE the quote you left:

 "Home is not where you live but where they understand you" 

So true! I'm still trying to figure out where I'm most understood. The first few years I lived abroad, I felt that I was most understood here in the US. And now it feels like that place is in Europe. It's all so confusing!

Julianna - Your comment made me laugh the hardest! I LOVE this:

American men? European Men? Asian? Austrailian? 
They all suck. They're men. 
They think with two minds that don't communicate with others well. 
The trick is to find one that communicates with you.
Then the rest will fall into place. 

So well said - especially about the two minds not communicating. So true! But on a more serious note, you have a great point - if I find the right person, my priorities might change. And by the way, Almost Hubs and his Mother sound fabulous! Do you ever let her pluck chickens in the kitchen? I bet the boys would love that! It would also make a very good blog post.

Jewels - My girl - as always, thanks for the love. And you are so right: there is nothing more beautiful about traveling and discovering new places with a lover. This is actually something that I've thought about a lot recently. I LOVE my single life and my adventures. But I have to say that most of my greatest memories are ones I shared with someone else and most of them involve traveling with someone else. I am sure that you will experience that some day (make sure you do). And you are so right... being unhappy does not attract happiness. I'm working on that.

On My Soapbox - You are probably right. My delivery wasn't very smooth. ;)

Tilden Talks - That thinking thing. Gets me every time. Damn. :)

Jules - As always, thanks for your support! Bostonians are crazy about their sports. That is for sure. You would think that the world is possibly ending tomorrow because the Red Sox are 2-9. It's ALL people are talking about. Don't get me wrong. I do like sports and I'm very amused with the Red Sox obsession and even am enjoying contributing to the conversation when I can. However, there is more that defines me and I want someone who has more than defines them.

Sarah B - I LOVED your comment. And I know that you understand. Thank you so much for these awesome words of wisdom - what a great analogy:

 Feeling uncomfortable in Boston is a good thing. 
Why? Because if it doesn't feel right on your skin, then it doesn't fit, which means, you shouldn't wear it.
You know that feeling when you find that dress? 
The one that hugs you in all the right places, the one that just slides on? 
The one that when you walk out the door, you *know* that men are dropping their jaws and tripping over themselves to stare at you?

That one. That's the feeling you should feel when you live somewhere too

Catherine - It is very wise advise to stop worrying about the things in my future and about the things I cannot change. Isn't there a saying something like: Grant me the power to change the things I can and accept the things I can't change? And speaking of change, as I already mentioned, I really liked what you had to say about it:

Maybe you'll meet someone who will want to change for you.
 Perhaps you'll meet someone you want to change for.
 Perhaps what you want will change - you never know. 
And maybe, just maybe, you'll meet the perfect person (within reason) that wants something very similar to you. 

So eloquently put. Love it.

Thanks again everyone! I'm finally feeling a bit better having gotten my B12 sorted out. I've also decided that I will STOP hibernating in my apartment watching Mad Men and The Kennedy's and I will get out and do more and have more interesting things to blog about!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Little Sunday Rant

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Thanks everyone for your really nice comments on my last post. I have missed you all too! I'm glad to be back.

I'm sorry to say that right now I'm going to have a little Sunday rant.

So, here I am having a really tough time with the move back. And there I am out with some friends who were asking me about my dating life and I admitted that it was pretty lacking. That I really wasn't trying very hard to date but that I was having trouble meeting Boston men who were interesting to me or were interested in me. When pressed more as to what was wrong with Boston men and what was I looking for... I tried to honestly express how I feel.

I said that I'm not so interested in men who are really into JUST sports and local Boston culture. I don't see myself dating a guy who has lived in Boston (or the surrounding towns) his whole life and that's what he wants to do for the whole rest of his life. I just don't see that happening. I don't see myself dating someone who doesn't ever want to leave Boston and live abroad.

My friends then asked me if I realized that the things I was saying were highly offensive.

Offensive? What?

I was shocked. No. It had NEVER ever occurred to me that the things I was saying might be offensive because it has NEVER ever occurred to me to judge other people or criticize them for wanting different things than I do. While I don't particularly want to date someone who only wants to live in Boston for the rest of their life, I absolutely do not judge them for their decision. In fact, quite the opposite. I'm envious of them for having figured out where they want to live and what they want in life while I'm still searching.

The things I was saying should never have been taken as offensive because they were never meant to offend. They were words said with no judgement or criticism of anyone else but perhaps only with a inner sadness of knowing that most men do not want to date a girl who doesn't necessarily see herself living in this country for the rest of her life. And sadly, I don't want know what I want in life and also don't want to limit myself to living here when right now it's making me miserable.

I can honestly say from the bottom of my heart that I absolutely do not judge people for living and staying in the US. And I do not judge the people on the street of Boston for being Bostonians and loving their sports, their country, their beer, their American life. I am absolutely not criticizing them or looking down on them. They are my parents, my friends, my co-workers. What kind of person would I be if I walked around judging them? But what kind of person would I be if I decided to date them just to feel trapped and then decide months later to jump on a plane and go live somewhere else.

I will admit that when I first started traveling, I felt a small level of superiority. I had escaped my small town, I was seeing the world, I was doing something different. I was taking the road less traveled, I was living my dream of being an international woman. But over the years I have revised that feeling and rather than feeling superior to those who settled down somewhere, I feel envious of them.

The change in feeling was fueled (as so many things are these days) by Facebook. I suddenly had a direct view into the lives of people who I went to high school and college with who made different decisions than me. I suddenly had a better peak into the life I didn't choose (but always secretly wished I did), the life I chose to leave behind and go searching for something else, something better? (for me) perhaps in different countries around the world. But what I found when I looked into their pictures and saw their status updates, was that they were HAPPY! Really and truly happy. And I realized that it's not about where you live or what you are doing that matters, it's about how happy you are with where you are and what you are doing. And I also realized that while flitting around the world has been extremely interesting and eye-opening, it hasn't necessarily contributed to my overall happiness or personal well-being. In fact, if I am honest with myself, I would bet that most of the people whose lives I was stalking on Facebook, are probably a lot happier than me. And it was with that realization that I dropped any last bit of superiority or judgement that I might have had towards other people who have made the choice not to dance around the world trying to find themselves.

If anything. I judge myself for being different. These days I'm full of quite a bit of self-hatred because most of all, I know that fact that I'm not fitting in here has everything to do with me, and nothing to do with anyone else. I hate myself for not knowing where I want to live or what I want to do in life. I hate myself for not coming back home and fitting back in. I hate myself for not knowing if I want the American dream, or the Swedish dream or even the London dream. I hate myself for being so torn as to what I want in life. I hate that I'm still searching for something or someone when everyone else is settling down, getting married and having kids. You see... I want those things too. But I realize that I can't really have them until I make some other decisions about my life - like what country I want to live in or where is "home" to me.

And by the way, I've also TRIED to date an All-American guy. When I graduated college I dated the All-American boy who lived down the street from my parents. He had been my high school crush. He was your typical All-American guy. He loved his micro-brews and his Bud Light equally. He listened to Dave Mathews and the Grateful Dead incessantly. He was passionate about sports and would never miss a Red Sox game. He loved BBQ's and hot summer nights. He wore a baseball cap and sports shirts. His dress up clothes (that I bought him) were khakis and a polo. He loved his country. He loved his town. He loved me. Until I decided that I wanted to move to Bali to work. And then he dumped me.

And this has been the story of my life. I wanted to stay with him. I thought we could work it out. I thought that I would come home for him after I had my adventure (I knew he would never move for me). But maybe he knew me better than I knew myself at the time. He thought it was best if he let me go. "You're never going to be happy here," he told me. "You've spent the last year that we've been dating trying to convince yourself of it. But this is not meant to be. You are meant to go out and explore the world. This is what you've always wanted to do. I'm not going to be the one to hold you back."

Okay, he was not a man of many words, so he didn't put it as eloquantely as that. But that's what he meant. Over many conversations, over many years (we remain in touch), he has basically said those things to me. And he was right. I did spend a lot of time trying to convince myself that this was my "destiny." That I was going to trade in my dreams of living abroad for the "American Dream" that that would be okay.

But fate intervened and sent me to Bali and then on to the rest of my travels. And I can't help but think that was really the "right" thing for me. It was.

And it's not just American men. I had the same problem with Swedish men and I used to express the same things to my Swedish friends. I do not want to date an American who only wants to live in the US, just the same as when I lived in Sweden, I didn't want to date a Swede who would never consider leaving Sweden. I knew it was over with the Beautiful Swede when he came home with me and I talked about possibly wanting to move home and build a house in the US and live the American Dream. He essentially freaked out and told me that he did not share that dream. The he couldn't ever see himself living in the US.

So, I'm not being criticical of American men or even Swedish men or in fact any men anywhere. I'm just realizing that at least at this point, I've decided that traveling and living abroad is very important to me and that if I meet a man who doesn't share that dream, who doesn't see himself living outside of where he is from or where he lives right now, then that man is probably not the right man for me.

I want someone to share an international adventure with me. I want someone who would be flexible enough to pack up our family and move to Asia for awhile if my job (or his) asked. I want someone who could see themselves living in Sweden or the US, or London, or Dubai for that matter. I'm not done traveling. I'm still hoping that someone will someday want to join me. But I also realize that is putting a lot of limitations on not even who I would date but on who would want to date me. If there is one thing I learned again and again over the years: men don't like women who are always leaving (nor do they particularly seem to like women who are always working, or even worse traveling for their jobs).

Right now, I've been spending a lot of time trying to convince myself that Boston is right for me. But I'm not feeling it at all. And that makes me so very sad. I really hoped that I would move home and everything would fall into place and I would have that amazing "Aha" moment where I felt like "YES! THIS IS IT! I'M SUPPOSED TO BE HERE!" But it hasn't happened.

And let me tell you... It's the worst feeling in the world to not feel at home in your own country. I have spent the last 9 years abroad feeling like a foreigner. And now I come home and I'm shocked and saddened to feel like that in my own country. I've never spent more time alone and sad and depressed. I've never cried myself to sleep so much.

Sometimes, I even find myself often wishing that I never lived abroad. That I had never made friends all over the world. That I had never left my home in so many places. A reader of this blog made a great comment on one of my posts. She said " I think that moving overseas is like opening Pandora's box. Once you have done it home is no longer one place but where ever you are a bit of home is where you last were." She is right. Home is everywhere that you have been and that makes it hard to really know where home is. I think that everywhere you go and live and love and learn, you leave a little peace of yourself behind. And right now I feel that I'm no longer a whole person because I have left so many pieces behind. And right now, I have no idea where I want to be or who I truly am.

Or to look at it another way,  a wise woman once told me that it's hard to live life when you have so many doors open. It's hard to know which one to go toward, which one to walk through. That to be really happy, you sometimes have to close some doors.

And that thought of closing doors scares me. I'm afraid if I close some doors I loose some part of myself. Right now I have three doors open with the words Boston, London, and Stockholm written above them.

Honestly, I would really like to meet the love of my life and fall head over heels. But as I've said before... how could anyone love me right now? How could anyone love me when I don't love myself? I don't think that falling in love can happen for me until I learn to love myself and be comfortable with where I am in my life. And part of loving myself has to be understanding myself enough to know where I want to live and what doors I'm ready to close.

And just to clarify I do not think I'm special because I've lived abroad. I do however think that I'm different from others who have not had this experience. And I do not think that is a good thing. I hate being different. All I want is to fit in. But 9 years abroad is a long time. It's my entire adult life. The influences in my life have been very international, very European and I'm struggling here in an environment that's less international with less people around me who've had a common experience. So no, I do not think I'm special. But I might feel different and I might react to things differently. I hope my friends can understand that and support me as I go through this. I hope that just as they ask that I don't judge them, that they will not judge me and that they will try to understand what I'm going through.

So, I truly apologize to my friends and to anyone else I may have unintentionally offended when I was talking about what I'm looking for in a life partner. I never meant to offend anyone. The type of person that I hold up as my "ideal" partner is not a reflection on anyone else - it's only a reflection of my own messed up self and this whole sad and confused internal battle I'm having as a result of repatriation after 9 years abroad.