When you go on a vacation, your life can feel like a Greatest Hits video package of the country you're in. If you've only got five days to spend in Paris, then you'll obviously make it a point to visit the Louvre and climb the Eiffel Tower. If you're in Rome for a long weekend, then why wouldn't you see the Colosseo and listen to some Eiffel 65?
Living in a city, even for just a month, isn't like a month-long vacation. When you spend a month anywhere, you eventually need to address common questions, like: "Where do I get toilet paper at midnight?" and "How did my apartment get this dusty? What is dust even made of? Why did public education fail me in such a profound fashion?"
This first month in Córdoba has felt a lot like Frosh Week at university; there's always a new friend to get to know in my family/tribe/tramily of remote workers, and between WhatsApp and Slack, I can always find someone to grab food or drinks with if that's what I'm feeling. It would be a nightmare scenario for anyone with FOMO, because you quite literally cannot do everything at once.
What I am realizing (well, what my liver and stomach have realized and have sternly communicated to my brain) is that I cannot do the Frosh Week thing every day.
Some background: Not only is this my first time going abroad for more than a week (I went to Rome last year with my family and loved it in that Greatest Hits way), it's my first time living alone since university. After graduating, I moved back home with my family, and that's where I was until a month ago. So I'm playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to the "Being A Functional Adult" thing, but I'm working on it.
(I'm terrible at Spanish, but seem to be getting sympathy from locals due to the novelty of it all. If you watch a dog play basketball, you're not going to criticize him for a weak lay up. I call it the Air Bud Effect.)
What I am realizing (well, what my liver and stomach have realized and have sternly communicated to my brain) is that I cannot do the Frosh Week thing every day. I mean, I could, but I'd die. I'd die and leave behind a popular corpse. But if I'm going to actually live in these cities (and I am), then I need to make peace with the fact that not every day will be like Raiders of the Lost Ark, and that's okay. Some days, I'll just do laundry, eat a sandwich, and nap. Just like Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
So I'm learning. I'm learning how to be a functional human being who enjoys enough new experiences to justify this whole "opportunity to travel the world thing," while also remaining gainfully employed, while also stocking my fridge with more than eggs and some sort of delightful apple marmalade (which I just found out exists and have developed a powerful, borderline sexual, appetite for).
I'm learning that the North American idea of a salad is a very specific creation, and we have all taken it for granted.
And that means that some days I'll need to give myself permission and forgiveness to stay in and watch Argentinian Netflix. And some days, I'll just have a perfectly pleasant day where I don't make out with my bidet or chase a pigeon out of my apartment. And when I accept that, I can be rid of the the FOMO-lite I suffer from when I choose not to join people for drinks because Pants Are The Enemy.
You can see the world and still take naps and read on your couch. It's not a zero-sum game between growth and regression, despite what that Inspirational Instagram account you follow likes to say. I'm down to leave my comfort zone, but if I abandoned it entirely, I'd have nowhere to recharge.
And by "recharge," I mean "watch Spanish Nic Cage movies in my pajamas."
Mike Sholars is currently residing in Córdoba, Argentina as he travels the world for a year while working remotely for The Huffington Post Canada. Remotely Interesting is his weekly travel column. Follow @sholarsenic on Instagram and Twitter to be assaulted with his bad jokes and shaky photos.
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