Lifestyle

Traveling in My Own City Is Weird and Awesome

Datelog: July 1, 10:30pm
(Posted later because my VPN doesn’t work on the hotel Wi-Fi)

I can’t explain how weird it is to be sitting in a hotel room in my own city.

I’m in New York, at a Sheraton in Soho, paying very little for a room before an early train to Quebec tomorrow morning.

I’ve lived in New York for the past seven years.

My lease expired at the end of March, and I stayed with short-term roommates for two months while finishing work at my old job. One month in Chelsea, and one month in Boerum Hill in Brooklyn.

I loved that experience, because I was essentially traveling in my own city. I explored new neighborhoods. I had only three bags of stuff, so “moving” meant getting on the subway. I got to have pets without the expense and the hassle. I didn’t do much housework.

But I still lived in the city. I shopped for food and prepared it in a kitchen and went to work and then didn’t go to work and occasionally did laundry.

Now I’m in between a trip to upstate NY and a trip to Canada, staying here because it would be too annoying to stay with someone and then have to leave at 6:30 a.m. Hotels are designed for that.

It still feels like my city.

I bought food at my favorite local chain, Le Pain Quotidien, and brought it back to my room, then ordered a pot of chamomile tea from room service.

I’m typing at a work desk and sleeping in a hotel bed. I feel like I’m on a business trip, but when I step out the door, I feel at home.

It’s weird and fun and freeing all at once. But mostly weird.

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Why I Travel Now, Not Someday

I always wanted to see the world.

Someday, I whispered to soothe my mind. Someday.

I was on a good career track. I kept getting promoted. I couldn’t leave now. I saw friends taking leaps and taking trips and continued to get up and get on the subway and travel downtown.

My Starbucks consumption went up. Tea is soothing.

Someday.

I watched oil prices spike in 2008, fall in 2009, settle back to somewhere in the middle, but higher than before, like a tide that slowly creeps in until you’re standing knee-deep, surrounded.

Someday.

New York City flooded after Hurricane Sandy. Rats washed away when the subways filled with water. They crept back, after a few months. Everything returned to normal. I paid for my studio and got promoted again.

Someday.

Airline tickets cost more than they did 10 years ago. $250 for L.A.-to-Newark in 2001. $670 for Newark-to-SF last month. Frequent-flyer mile devaluation is taking off.

Someday became today in May.

Because I want to travel. And there are still empty seats on planes and tickets for anyone with miles or $600.

If I wait to retire, 25 years will pass by. 30 years. If plane tickets cost $10,000 or 1,000,000 frequent-flyer miles, if there are fewer flights per day, if retirement is at age 70, if I’m too sick or didn’t make it to retirement or became a caretaker, wishes won’t take me there.

I’ve seen too many people never get their Someday. They play by the rules but can’t control all the factors, random or not, that determine life’s course.

So someday is today. Maybe there’ll be more of it next year, next decade, and in 30 years. Which would be wonderful. There could be new ways of getting around the planet, ample opportunity and mobility, great breakthroughs.

But there are no givens.

So I travel now. I travel light, and I learn as I go, and I’ll do my best to carry something useful from this experience into whatever I do next.

Don’t wait. Whatever your someday is, take steps to make it real, starting today.

Day 24: Fear

It’s funny that I’m still afraid.

I used to think of everything I’d do if I left my job. I viewed work as a roadblock in my path to personal expression, the reason I could not do X, or Y, or Z.

Now, that roadblock is lifted, but another remains: fear.

I majored in journalism. I wrote and edited for a living. I was inordinately comfortable with self-expression.

That was a long time ago. Seven years.

Now I think of publishing exactly what I think and my breath pauses. My family will find this blog. My friends will read it. It’s a space for me to share my process of learning, of exploration, of dreaming.

Dreams sometimes die when they’re exposed to the day.

Truth sometimes flourishes.

I don’t know what will happen.

I’m not used to sharing anymore. I find myself afraid to post what I think, afraid it could come back to haunt me years later, afraid to share with the world instead of with a few colleagues in a private meeting. Afraid it will put me at a disadvantage.

I think this fear is false. Sharing knowledge is the only way to generate exponential benefits. If we all kept our experiences to ourselves, the world would still look flat to most of us. Debate, vicious or vibrant, is vital.

Fear is just fear. It is the nightmare of the introvert. It prevents me from living a full and authentic life.

I am terrified to post this. I’m going to let it sit in the queue, waiting, for the day when I feel ready.

(Edit: posted it on Day 26.)

Day 8: Leaving Home Again, New Goals

I left Brooklyn yesterday. Took my three bags to the subway, got on the A train, sat down while stations whisked past. I struggled with my bags, impractical and heavy, and realized: Three bags is still too many. Even after a giant clear-out, my stuff still drags on me. Lighter is better, in all things.

I thought about how easy it was to leave New York, after six years of living here. I didn’t feel any ties, no, “I’m moving now” signs flashed in my head. Just the same subway stations brushing past as blurs. I’ll be back in a few weeks, then gone, then back. I won’t be buying souvenirs while traveling, since I have no stuff. Instead I’ll bring back experiences, new motivation, and refined goals.

Tomorrow I fly to San Francisco. I’m bringing one small backpack and a shoulder bag, which should get me through the week. I don’t think I could travel so light for a month-long stay, but I do see the appeal of switching to a much smaller rolling suitcase. The one I have now is a carry-on that always seems an inch too large for the aisle on the plane. And I think I should have two bags, not three — even for longer stays.

Major goals for this week are: 1.) Network and meet new and old friends; 2.) Work on my flashcard app at least a little; and 3.) Have fun and learn new things!

Embarking Now

I resigned from my job April 29. I loved it for many years, but I needed something new and different.

My last day was yesterday.

Today I woke up at 8am and lounged in PJs. Same routine as every Saturday.

Except it wasn’t the same. I created a Flickr account for posting photos from travels to new places. I created this blog to document my journey toward a new purpose and pursuits. I read a Kindle book from my queue, The Quantum Doctor.

I realized I can do whatever I want. And this freedom-to-act won’t end on Tuesday, when I’d usually go back to work. It’ll only ramp up from there. But it’s up to me to keep it going. So:

  1. A good routine will be key. I’ll keep waking up early, at 7 or 7:30am.
  2. Good health and nutrition are non-negotiable. I need to get back on track here.
  3. Tackling the hard tasks will be a priority. Easy tasks can wait.

My major goals for this week are to register and study for the NASM personal trainer test, work on my NASM flashcard app, and blog at least three times.

It feels weird but incredibly great to be in this place of open road. It’s not the road I imagined two years ago, but sometimes to go forward, it’s necessary to do something different and unexpected for a while.

I don’t know what’s next. And that’s the great part.