New Years, Old Years, Dark Years, Gold Years
I celebrated two New Year’s countdowns yesterday.
One was at 2:59 PM, when my boyfriend called me from Spain to beckon in his new year. The second was when I confusedly rolled into my own new year, eagerly anticipating but somehow still disoriented when the final countdown began. I spent the first ten minutes of 2013 trying to get Skype on my phone to work, and the next twenty minutes outside, alternating between wanting to share my excitement internationally and not wanting to lose my fingers to frostbite.
Time is weird. If retrospection of this year taught me anything, it’s that time is one of man’s most arbitrary inventions. It’s both critical and meaningless. It’s both invisible and so publicized. It’s both metaphysical and physical. Quantum duality, in other words, is evident in even the most standardizing of things.
Traveling as frequently as I do, time is constantly on my mind. What time is it at home? How long does it take me to get to the airport? How long would it take me to take a bus versus a metro? How long have I been in a country? How many more days am I planning to stay somewhere? And in a long-distance relationship, it’s always, always, always: How many more days until I can see my boyfriend again?
Welcome to the rip in the time-space continuum, traveler-style.
Time is completely relative. A year can appear to be either so short or so long, all dependent on how good or bad, how full or empty, how meaningful or meaningless you make your life.
..But actually, that’s not fair. The next two months of my life include the launch of the second phase of the Voyage, this time to the Motherland of Southern India. I leave on January 15, exactly two weeks away! I’ll reconnect with my overseas family, feast on mouth-wateringly delicious food, and begin volunteering with an organization as of yet to be determined. It’s going to be incredible, for sure, and I’m looking forward to it with anxious anticipation.
But at the same time, those two months are standing in the way of me being with my boyfriend. I never thought I’d be the type of girl who would need to be in a relationship, and even now I don’t feel like I have to be in one… but since I am, wouldn’t it be nice to actually, you know, be with him?
We meet in Bangkok on March 2, and we’ll travel for the next seven months through Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, before heading to Northern India, Bhutan, and Nepal. We’ll return to Europe (or what arguably is still Asia) when we visit Turkey (and maybe a Greek Island or a jaunt to Croatia, all around my birthday), and finally think about ending our vagabond ways in País Vasco for Semana Grande, though we’ll be making a roadtrip down the rest of Spain and explore Morocco before returning home.
“Vidya, it’s been so long!”
One critical thing I learned about myself over these last four months is that I unknowingly subscribe to the theory of “Out of sight, out of mind.” I used to be so good at keeping in touch with people, but somehow the traveling spirit took me far from the etiquette of prompt reply and instead had me sending responses to emails, Facebook messages, and missed texts weeks or months later. This explains why people were surprised that I was back in the US, and more so that I had snagged myself a boyfriend on the way.
To catch you up to speed: I’m leaving to India on January 15, and from Bangalore to Bangkok on March 2. I’m a bit scared, to be honest, but I know I adapt quickly and will be back to my gypsy ways in no time. I’m a sedentary person, but once I get moving, I end up falling in love with one place after another.
On that note: I’ve known – and had a little crush on – Jens for two years, ever since we met in Burawoy’s Sociology 101. We stayed in contact after I went to Cambridge last summer and he moved to Norway, then Spain. At the end of November, I visited him in San Sebastian as the last stop on the Voyage: Part 1. Long story short, we became an “item,” but he had to go back to the States for the first time in 1.5 years for the exact last week that I was still in Europe. He couldn’t change his flight, but I could, so I came home a few days earlier than planned. He picked me up from the airport with a cooler full of chocolate ice cream and a nest in his trunk; I swooned but somehow never ended eating the ice cream. We went all around the Bay and up to his cabin overlooking the ocean, I nearly crashed into a rock while kayaking over to some seals, and I couldn’t stop smiling for a week. Even though he’s back in Spain, we’re doing better than any normal relationship would at this point, so we made the big plunge to travel together for about seven months. I’m really happy, and so is he, so it’s a good thing for sure.
How do I consolidate last year? Let me try to do so in 200 words or less:
Started year with a bang – fireworks and concert in Tahoe. Fell for red-headed Irishman. Began last semester at Cal, as well as began work as chief editor at Go Overseas. Met adorable biker boy, began dating. Closer to graduation, started to really plan the Voyage. Ended things with biker boy. Ended work at library and Go around the same time. Graduated from the #1 public university in the world. Moved out of Oakland apartment of three years. Moved into a house in Berkeley. Sunniest summer in Berkeley history, possibly related to being bored and out of it most of the season. Moved home for a week, consolidated and reorganized everything I’ve ever owned, then left for Portland to begin the Voyage. Traveled through Portland, Seattle, New York, London, Galway, Dublin, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bergen, Oslo, Berlin, Tübingen, Prague, Berlin, Paris, Milan, Bergamo, Como, Barcelona, then San Sebastian. Steathily returned home to wonderful, welcoming arms. Did absolutely nothing for a few weeks. Loved it. Loved life. Still loving life. 🙂
Soon, I’ll be off on the second leg of the trip (though this leg is about three times longer – it’s a very uneven body, as it turns out). As I already outlined above, we’ll be visiting quite a few countries – I even have a layover in Singapore, where I’ll be disembarking just long enough to have a lovely afternoon and dinner with Mrs. Sahar Pirzada. I have a few resolutions, mainly regarding keeping track of my spending and treating my body better, but I’m committed to the idea that self-improvement is possible at any time of the year. I’m a little scared, yes, but for once, I want this year to be exactly like the last – full of excitement, beginnings, and adventures. I don’t know what to expect, but I’m so excited to find out what 2013 has in store for me – especially with Jens by my side. 🙂 Time flies when you’re having fun, but time’s not the only thing that’ll be flying soon..