We have returned home from a month abroad and while a month is not a great deal of time, it seems that life, especially here is Los Angeles, spirals at a velocity that makes a month equivalent to a year. In that month, our lives have been touched by my old friend Change and yes, I still simultaneously miss and loath him. We have been home for only a week. I haven’t even started up all of my “normal” activities like work and work and my other work, and I am already exhausted!
I was not aware of how much we work in LA until we were in Spain, and one of our friends said that in the US all we cared about was making money. I thought about what he said and prepared to argue such a generalized and bold statement, but I couldn’t. S and I are open minded, artsy, with careers in the humanities that we are definitely not involved with for their lucrative potential. We pride ourselves on being the epitome of the old cliché, “work to live, not live to work,” but what our friend said rang true. I think about money every day: the lack of, pending bills/debts to pay, “is this worth spending on?” And on rare occasions, “what am I going to treat myself to with this extra cash?” I consent that this is a very normal way to think about money in modern western culture. What is not normal, or is, but probably should not be, is how much we work in order to earn enough money to maintain a certain lifestyle.
Working 12 hour days on a regular basis, going from one job to the next, even on weekends has been a normal part of our lives. We are fortunate that our supplementary jobs are related to our passions, but still, never having a weekend, working long hours all of the time, that is no longer okay with me. This rant is probably inspired by a bad case of vacation withdrawals but here goes. As a woman in her thirties, I refuse to feel like I am working all of the time, (even if I am.)
I have thought about this all week. I cannot change my life drastically, quit my job and live on perpetual vacation, but I can change small aspects of how I function daily in order to keep that vacation feeling alive.
- On vacation I loved drinking my café con leche and tostada de tomate. I’m keeping this. It’s easy, delicious and somewhat healthy.
- On vacation I loved not being so dependent on the phone. I didn’t have an international data plan so I was not constantly on the internet. If I needed directions I actually spoke to a human on the street. Imagine that! I know I’ve said this before, but being so easily accessible on our very smart devises can cause stress. I do not want this stress any more.
- On vacation I did not miss my car at all. In fact, I forgot that I had one. I loved walking around the various cities we visited, riding the metro, and really getting to know each city by their rhythm, sites, people and smells. LA is not really conducive to walking. In fact, I think the city hates pedestrians. We have a metro/train/bus system that is okay but not great. What I have seen on the rise in the last couple of years are bike lanes and paths. I want to drive less and be outside more.
- On vacation I did not obsess over the calendar. I loved that feeling of freedom that comes with not having a schedule. Of course in my real life I need to have a schedule. What I do not need, is to schedule something every hour of every day. I am really making a conscious choice to spread things out throughout the week and not fill up my days entirely. If I want to keep that feeling of vacation, I have to have free time daily. This leads to the following.
- Do one thing at a time. I have been rushing through life making sure that everything gets done and I do not want to do that anymore. I want to enjoy my life not rush through it.
- On vacation I remembered that I am a priority in my own life and not an unpleasant chore.
- On vacation I loved the feeling of adventure I got as we discovered new places and activities. I want to continue this at home and make sure that we avoid any ruts and/or mid-life crises by being open to new experiences.