Monday, November 23, 2009

Leaving, but not going home.

"Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life." -- Jack Kerouac

I don't even like Jack Kerouac, but I do feel that this quote sums up my life for the past several months in the true pseudo-intellectual, hipster-cum-stereotype fashion that only a good Kerouac quote can muster. Ah well, they say there's a place for everything. From Smith, back to Long Island, my road-trip, Bryn Mawr, to England, Prague and then off from there, there's been a lot of piling of suitcases. Not just piling, but pushing, dragging, your rare and oft unsuccessful attempt at lifting, crowded metro-riding, standing to watch as all my valuables hit the bottom of that staircase with a reverable 'phluummmph!'


In short, sure or not, I'm at it again. A lot of life plan changes coming my way soon, so here's the actual explanation of what is going on for you, my loyal readers.

Short answer: I'm leaving Prague. The legitimate reason is that the person I hired to help me get my work visa dropped off the face of the Earth during that integral last week of my tourist visa, making it such that it's basically impossible for me to work legally here until I leave for an extended period of time. Goodbye job. While I'm pretty pissed at said visa person for not doing her job (word of advice: Don't hire Hana from So-Ry Agentura to help with your visa!), I had been in a sort of moratorium as to whether or not I was actually happy here anyway.

Which brings us to the less legitimate reason for my departure. Pretty much, I didn't meet an adult until I was 19 or so that actually seemed happy with their life, and fuck if I'm going to fall into some comfortable routine just because it's easier or expected of me. It was really hard for me to make this decision. I love Prague. Walking around this city at night, I feel a real pride in myself for getting here. I look around at the buildings, the castles, think of all the crazy, amazing and determined people I've met since August and it's almost crippling to think of leaving. The main factor is that I don't feel like I'm either a good teacher or that I'm making any positive difference in the world. I wake up in the morning wishing I'd get sick so I didn't have to go to work, my boss constantly reprimands me and makes me feel like I'm a failure at life. After a bit of this, I start to wonder if I really am. I sit on my couch all day, unable to concentrate on lesson planning and unable to make any plans because I'm always so anxious about lesson planning. When I had a complete mental breakdown due to a simple scheduling conflict, I knew that this was no longer healthy for me. That's not to say it was all bad, I learned so much from both TEFL and my jobs and have a few pretty awesome students. Perhaps at a different job, with more structure and support, I could be happy doing the teaching thing, but not here as it is now.

I made this decision a couple weeks ago, but I didn't want to make a post until I knew exactly what my visa situation was, sorted things out with my flatmate and officially told my jobs I was leaving. This is a public forum, after all, and it wouldn't look too great if they found this first somehow.

The question is...what's next?

I'm not going home, that's for sure. My first thought is that I needed to visit all of my friends who're living abroad, since I haven't had time to with my job and since I won't always have the privilege of 10+ friends living all over Europe. However, without a paycheck, funds for basically hanging out long-term run a little low, not to mention my feelings of self-worth, so I decided to look into Willing Workers on Organic Farms (WWOOF) as an option. This research led me to, which is basically a database of farms, hostels, hotels, families, B&Bs and even boats that need help with something or another and will give you a place to sleep and cook you meals in exchange for roughly 5 hours of work a day. I'm not really a fan of your general museum, shopping, fancy-schmancy tourist stuff, so this sounded great to me. I'll pick up some skills while actually meeting people and learning from them. It is definitely one of my goals to have my own garden and be as self-sufficient as I can once I have my own property, so why the fuck not? Give me something to build or plant, some dirt to roll around in or some poop to clean and I am set. After how much I've had to use my brain in the past several years, it'd be nice to actually use my hands for a change.

As I begin planning all this, I feel like I'm living some surreal life out of a book. Locations I'm considering are Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Spain, Portugal and various places within the UK. If you told me I'd be traveling alone through Europe to places like Bulgaria, Portugal and Slovenia to work on farms, I would've said you were crazy, yet here I am. I definitely want to visit friends in Germany, Austria and Spain so those are definites and I've already had contact with farms in both Germany and France. Hopefully everything else will come together soon and I can work everything around my less than favorable visa situation.

I feel good about this, though thinking about leaving the little life I've made for myself here makes me sad. Lately I just stare at everything around me just in case it's the last time I notice the way that tree fits perfectly into that building's silhouette or how that graffiti contrasts just right with the color of the sky. It seems like it's time though, in that way that it does. Most of the people I started out with here have already gone. The general empty, crazy state I've felt looming in my subconscious is my cue. I leave December 15th to spend Christmas as an adopted child in Lewes, England. Then it's hopefully back here for New Years and onwards from there.

I still have no idea what I want to do with my life, but at least I'm accumulating things that I don't, feelings that I don't want to feel. This is the only way I know how. What else can I do? It may seem crazy, irresponsible, whatever name you want to call it, but I like to think I'm traveling around, picking up the bits and pieces that will one day come together to form this blurry little life of mine. It will be okay, right?

Time to get my hands dirty, or, to continually quote the fuck out of Ani Difranco...

I got friends all over this country
I got friends in other countries too
I got friends I haven't met yet
I got friends I never knew
I got lovers whose eyes
I've only seen at a glance
I got strangers for great grandchildren
I got strangers for ancestors

I was a long time coming
I'll be a long time gone
You've got your whole life to do something
And that's not very long


  1. work it out, mama. it's going to be great :-* we'll miss you.

  2. I forgot to tell you that Luke worked on a farm for a couple month in Ontario building fences or something and I told him about your plans to do the farm work and he approved and said that WWOOF was legit. In fact he asked if it was WWOOF before I even mentioned it.

    Go where the road might take you.


  3. i fucking love you. shine onnnnn [& quote the fuck out of Ani always, even just for mine and your enjoyment] miss you terribly friend..xxxx

  4. Every time I catch a quick update of you saying you're going to go off and do something crazy I always wish I was as brave as you are.

    It'll work out, I have faith.