Holy shit. I just found out that I’m leaving my love and not coming back.
At least not for a few months, which – let’s be honest – knowing me could easily turn into a few years, if not forever.
After all, since I first left home at 18, I’ve never lived in the same city for more than 4 years at a time (in truth, it’s probably more like 3.75). And don’t even get me started on apartments. (“A lease for an entire year?!”)
I won’t bore you with the details, but I’m seriously tempted to make an infographic of my Milwaukee to North Carolina to Syracuse to Miami to Chicago to Los Angeles tendencies. (note to self: hire designer to create infographic of said tendencies. Include embarrassing stats regarding my multiple [read: FOUR] moves to and from LA).
I guess I’ve been a closeted nomad for the past 14 years, transferring from college to college, city to city, apartment to crappy apartment. It could be suggested that I was running away from something (and you don’t have to have a psych degree to know that it’s been – duh – myself.)
But this time, something’s different.
This time I will get paid to travel.
I’ve been outside the U.S. several times – a month studying in England, a romantic 10-day trip to Paris, and a smattering of random jobs that took me to places like Vancouver, Bucharest, and Taiwan. But that was back in the Dark Ages, when my work in the entertainment industry kept me shackled to the City of Angels like a Prisoner of War who’s been converted by her captors. I loved LA. I couldn’t leave.
But international travel – the kind that involved a backpack and months in Europe and lots and lots of hostels – always beckoned, an unrealized dream I’d placed quietly on a dusty shelf in the back of my heart. The dream of my career took center stage. Once I was rich and famous, then I’d travel.
Then, through a series of mind-blowing events that I’m sure will rear their gorgeous heads at some point in these writings, I made an incredible transition from actress, producer, reluctant waitress and sometimes writer to writer, writer, and full time writer.
Suddenly I had money. Suddenly I could work from anywhere. Suddenly people were paying me to write for them, and God was laughing his ass off as if to say “See?! This is what I’ve been trying to get you to do your whole life.”
Flash Forward to 2013, about 18 months into my new life and career.
I’ve been hired to ghostwrite a series of travel books, and have spent the past several months writing about Vietnam from a tiny studio apartment in Los Angeles, which I’ve shared with my sweetheart, two cats, and the comings and goings of some very gregarious neighbors. Wait, gregarious is the wrong word. I meant douchebag. Douchebag neighbors.
Here are the cats, my non-virtual assistants:
Every day I spend hours researching and writing about Vietnam, only to develop a severe craving for pho, and before I know it I’ve abandoned my computer for happy hour at PHO 999, the nearest Vietnamese restaurant (luckily there’s bomb Vietnamese food in LA or I would be shit out of luck in the craving-fulfillment department.)
So when it was revealed that my love needed time, and space, and distance, and maybe some more time, I knew there a way to give him more than he ever dreamed possible. Why don’t I go quite literally halfway around the world and stay there indefinitely? Why don’t I go 7,895 miles to be exact?
The books I’ve been hired to write are travel guides for India, Nepal, and a smattering of countries in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar (Burma – yowza!).
While my online research skills have become somewhat pathetically fine-tuned over the past few years (I write about anything and everything, from small business tax write offs to the chemical composition of essential oils to other topics with which I have no personal experience), wouldn’t it be 700 times better to write a travel guide from the actual country you’re writing about?
I made my client a deal. I’d write the book for the exact same rate, but I needed the money up front. This way, I could book flights, get visas, book accommodation, and take care of all the other zillions of expensive details leaving the country entails.
And then, a remarkable and terrifying thing happened.
My boyfriend is thrilled for me, (thrilled I’ll be leaving), which I’m taking as a sure sign it’s the right move. (“You’re going halfway around the world and I might never see you again? Suh-weet!” – not exactly the foundation of a fulfilling relationship, IMHO.)
I will go, he will breathe, I will scratch my travel itch and see the world for as long as he needs. That’s right – I’m journeying to Nepal, followed by Laos, India, Cambodia, Thailand, and who-knows-where-else, because my boyfriend needs some space.
Hey, at least I’m going on someone else’s dime. The sheer awesomeness of that alone is not lost on me. And yet it’s with a somewhat heavy heart that I’m off to book my appointment for vaccinations, and research flights to Kathmandu – one way flights, that is, that will take me 7,985 miles away from him.
Or maybe, just maybe, 7,985 miles closer to myself.
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1. If he needs space, give him some. At least 7,895 miles, to be exact.
2. You really can get paid to travel the world. I'm doing it, and I have basically no experience and a skill set that's mediocre at best.
3. Cats make great assistants.
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