It may be a bit telling that one of my favorite movies is a weird cult film from the ’80s: The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Peter Weller with hair. Yum. Actually, it seems like everyone was in that movie: Christopher Lloyd, John Lithgow, Rosalind Cash, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum (and the stars just keep on coming). Jamie Lee Curtis was in the original opening scene that was scrapped. Check it out (skip the ad): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuIzYQnfdpI
To get us back on track here, in a movie teeming with classic one liners, Weller gets to say, “No matter where you go, there you are.”**
I will be me, just in a new country. I know this going in. I’m an introvert. I have trouble making conversation with strangers. I hate to ask for help, not out of pride but out of awkwardness. Now I am putting myself in a situation where I will need to ask directions, ask for help, meet new people. I can do it. I have done it before. In part, it’s more a matter of getting back to who I use to be than changing who I am.
Out of the Comfort Zone
In a way, life got too comfortable. I got to sit in the corner of my comfy couch with my favorite coffee, work on my laptop, and not have to go out and make small talk. (I suck at small talk.)
Please know that I am a big fan, BIG FAN of living in your comfort zone. Why the hell do we work so hard if not to have a comfortable life? But there is a point where comfort slides into stagnation and I’m pretty sure I hit that a few years back.
I have another twenty or thirty years in front of me (if I don’t get hit by a bus). I have lived my life keeping my options open, never committing fully to anything, always keeping at least one foot pointed towards the door.
But as you get older, your options close themselves off. Weird health things happen. (Just tonight, my index finger cramped into an unnatural and painful position. What’s up with that?) This move may be more of a last hurrah than a mid-life crisis.
It’s an Itch
I can probably blame my travel itch on reading great adventure stories. Kidnapped was one of my favorite books as a kid. (I mean, really, it has everything!) And now that I think about it, that story may explain my lifelong fascination with Scotland, sailing ships, and pirates.
Or maybe I was attracted to adventure books because of the way I am wired. Even as a toddler, I traveled and would bristle when adults said I had wandered off. (Again.) I distinctly remember knowing exactly where I was going and was frustrated as hell whenever I was “caught” and returned to my exasperated mom. Apparently you needed to be a certain age and height to walk freely around town.
Robert Louis Stevenson said, “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” I am wired to move. I think I somehow forgot that.
While I joke that I have spent most of my adult life searching for warm weather, the truth is I just want to see everything I can. Then I saw my options closing out due to age. And I guess that scared me out of my comfort zone. It became more uncomfortable to stay, knowing I was missing out on the world, than it was to take a leap of faith and start somewhere fresh.
So when people tell me that I am brave to move so far away, I have to confess that it wasn’t bravery that got me off the couch. It was fear. Total fear of missing out. Fear of not being able to do what I wanted to do. It feels somehow disrespectful to not see as much as I possibly can while I am on this planet. A misuse of the good fortune the world has given me.
Bad wiring? Maybe. I’d rather call it my driving force, I just don’t want to be trapped into anything. I don’t want to be boxed in. I will always choose zag when others zig which makes me truly horrible at line dancing. I am always looking for an out. As I said, I keep my options open. I don’t recommend this for most people. It’s just my particular wiring. Your wiring may vary.
This year, I am exercising my option. I am opting to see new things. To learn new things. I may not be able to change my basic nature, but, like a plant, I can force myself to grow in a certain direction. We don’t change overnight. We learn and we grow and we are shaped by our experiences. When we stop experiencing new things, we stop growing. It’s too soon to stop growing.
In my mind, I am two inches taller than I really am. I believe this so strongly that other people think I am taller than I am. No joke.
Why did I move to Portugal? I long ago reached the minimum age and height to travel. But I feel like I still have some growing to do. At least another two inches.
**My absolutely favorite line from the film is “Lithium is no longer available on credit.”