The last time I was away was Thanksgiving, but the last time I felt really away, when I was using foreign currency and didn’t have a cellphone, was in 2011.
That was the year between my New York life and my Denver one. That summer, I spent a week in the Adirondacks, another one in Bulgaria, hopped through Istanbul and Berlin, and then spent three weeks driving across the country. My time in Germany was brief, maybe four days. But I’ve probably thought about that trip for more hours than I was actually on it. Berlin is a great city for a lot of reasons, but what I loved about being there was feeling very aware of the verbs—reading, writing, and running—that made me happy, and making time to do them all.
For the past four years, I’ve integrated all those verbs into my life. Even without the subway, I still manage to read a lot. I’ve woken up at 6:03 every day to write. After this blog post, I’ll go on a four-mile run in the park near my house. But after four years of such good habits, I’m starting to worry that I’ve duped myself. It’s not that being so verb-responsible hasn’t made me content. But always worrying about when I’m going to write or run, or choosing to read over spending time with people—it’s closed me off from some experiences. I have a feeling there’s more to life than doing the things I’m supposed to be doing.
A friend is meeting me in Seoul, and while I’m packing the addresses of three dozen friends to write postcards to, many books, and running shoes, I’m hoping not to get anything productive done. I’m hoping I’ll be present in Korea, instead of worrying about getting my reading, writing or running in.
No one needs a vacation, least of all me, who just went to New York last month. But I’m looking forward to taking a break from my verbs, if not myself, for a week.