I have been feeling a bit like a time traveller of late. What happens is that I sit chatting to somebody and they start saying stuff that I remember coming out with and thinking ‘back in the day’. You don’t meet many Kiwis here. The people you generally knock about with are aged between 19 and 27 (most in the lower end of that range) and pretty much all of them have almost the same identical conversation with you and all the other travellers, every single day. Pretty much all of them are trying to work out ‘what they want to do with their lives’, remark about how ‘crap it is back home’, and bemoan the fact that some of their ‘mates are starting to settle down back home’ (and it scares them). Then they tell you how good the full moon parties are in Thailand. How you should definitely visit Cambodia, because it is the place to go at the moment. How they are planning to learn Spanish and save up to go to South America one day. And, finally, that they want to travel as much as possible now because ‘when you are over thirty it’s pretty much impossible to do that stuff anymore’.
Half of the time I keep quiet and just listen (and silently reminisce in my head), hoping they are not going to ask me certain questions, but the questions inevitably come anyway:
“So dude, are you planning to go to Cambodia?”
“No, I went there in ‘98” (This usually provokes an uncomfortable silence)
“What do you do back in England?”
“Well, actually, I’m a journalist in Latvia”
“When did you graduate from uni?”
“Umm, urr (Should I lie?) … ninety three” (Collective gasp)
The only part of this conversation where I can have any real input is the bit where they talk about not having a clue what they are going to do with their lives. Suddenly the generation gap closes –for a brief moment or two- and I am the same as them. “No idea, to be honest. I’m just going to see what happens in the next few months. Maybe I will find some answers while I’m travelling.”
What do I want to do with my life? Over the years I’ve been a big fan of making ‘wish lists’. Whenever, I have felt a bit lost I’ve grabbed a pad of paper and started writing:
Things I want to do:
In past years this list included: Teach English in Japan; Write a Novel; Travel alone across Central Asia; Attend the Copa America in South America.
Fast forward to 2011 and I have managed to cross off a good fifty per cent of my wish list items while, along the way, I found I no longer wanted to do some of the things e.g. live in Kiev for a year.
The last time I tried to write a list was in Argentina, ten days after my life and future plans fell apart. Wish list read:
Nine weeks on, I am still feeling damaged beyond words but a centimetre or two of daylight must have entered my world, because I am able to start penning a new wish list; one that extends past a desire to simply ‘hide’. New wish list reads:
Feel happy again
Write a novel (and actually get it published)
Not go travelling alone in the future
Help people (not exactly sure how, maybe through my website or by creating a charity)
Find unconditional love (good luck with that one)
Spend as much time as possible with family and friends
Write a trance tune (!)
As wish lists go it rather betrays my damage and general lack of ambition for certain things. But it is definitely an improvement on my last wish list, nine weeks ago.
…the lie low continues in Raglan. I wake up in the mornings with a view from the window next to my bed straight out to sea. I can surf, pretend to be a surfer, write, do long bike rides, swim, sunbathe, read, enjoy a sauna, and I just don’t see the point of leaving this place until it is time to head back to Auckland for the Quarter Final on Saturday.