I’ve been doing a lot of Skyping lately. Heading down to the local bar with free wifi, ordering some lunch, and catching up with Stateside friends has become a mainstay of my days off – which means I’ve been answering a lot of questions for well-intentioned loved ones.
The most popular questions being: “How long will you be in New Zealand?” And “How long will you be in Arrowtown?”
The answers, simply put, are: “Dunno” and “Until I’m not.”
Convenient, huh? The honest truth is, I’ve been striving for months here to get myself away from the idea that my life will take an instant nosedive if I don’t stick to a logical plan. So all I can say is, it is worth my while to be in Arrowtown right now. When that’s no longer true, or when I get antsy and want to move on, or when I just wake up one day and feel like it, I’ll leave. And I don’t know where I’ll go.
My dad though, as usual, has a much more astute and logical answer to the question of how long I’ll be here.
“As soon as you run out of things to write about,” he told me the other day, “it’s time to leave Arrowtown.”
And, though the gap between my last post and this one may lead you to believe I’ve run out of things to write about in Arrowtown, I’m here to say that I don’t know if that’s true just yet. I’ve just been exhausted at the end of each 10-hour day, you see, from all the running around and latte-making and forced smiling at customers with complicated orders who want change for their hundred-dollar bills. (Also, I don’t really have any new pictures. Which I know seems like a pretty silly reason not to post but, hey, we all learned in kindergarten that pretty pictures make the words go down a little more smoothly. See, I’ll show you)
Anyway, where was I going with this? Ah, yes: the purpose and duration of my stay in Arrowtown. Now, I know that at the outset, my whole idea was to come to New Zealand, try some new things, eventually get a nice respectable job in some office somewhere, and basically just live abroad for a year. But I think we can all agree that the second one starts working in a bakery and living in a home on wheels, one’s perspective on life is subject to rapid change.
To wit: did you know that there is a whole population of people who, rather than weighing themselves down with CV-enhancing jobs and apartment leases and nice furniture and wardrobes with more than one pair of jeans, will actually undertake random, itinerant little gigs only to save money that they’ll then spend traveling again? We’re talking well educated, formerly metropolitan people, like Josh and Mary, whose flat I’m staying in this week while they jet off to Tonga. For the last few months, Josh has been managing the hostel I’ll soon be cleaning in the mornings in exchange for accommodation, and Mary’s been working at the cafe I’m currently trying not to run into the ground with my sub-par skills at the espresso machine. In three weeks, they’ll leave Arrowtown, travel Europe and the Middle East, spend a few weeks at home in the states, and then start managing a hostel in Germany. And apparently there are a slew of other people just like them all over the world.
I’d liken finding out about this kind of lifestyle to, say, finding out vampires or ghosts or Clark Kent were real: I couldn’t believe that these people not only existed, but thrived, walking around among the rest of us poor schmucks who weren’t in on the joke. I could hardly comprehend the fact that every few months, they pulled off the great caper of international escape without a guilty review of the bank account or a pang of regret over quitting their jobs. I couldn’t help but feel as if, at least at this point in their lives, they had it all figured out.
Which leads me back, again, to how long I’ll be in Arrowtown, or New Zealand, or this particular quadrant of the globe. Admittedly, if you’re going to set yourself up somewhere, it’s not a bad place to be.
But you know what might be even cooler? Setting myself up here just long enough – and then leaving again. Taking off for Australia, or Bali, or Thailand, or Vietnam, or any other random combination of cheap and beachy cultural flip-sides as I could manage before my Arrowtown money ran out. Just going with whatever, and wherever, life throws at me next.
So, how much longer will I be in Arrowtown? How much longer will I be in New Zealand? Dunno. Until I’m not.