“You have to be in the world to write about it.”
My boyfriend said that to me the other day, in the middle of a discussion about how I haven’t really been doing…anything. I was talking about a daydream I was having of what it could be like to be an author in a fantasy world.
“How awesome would it be if each day I just had to wake up, never leave the apartment, and just cozy-up and sit there and write all day and it was my job?”
We laughed, because the dream image of a job is never what it really is, and I’m sure this completely underscores what it is actually like to be an author or have a work-from-home job. He’s right, it’s a little bit difficult to write about anything without being out there to live experiences worth writing about or to base writings off of.
This past summer of 2021 was the last time I wrote anything that I felt was worth writing about. I had just come off of another few months of section-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Since then, I’d describe my life as passing days just focused on real-life “stuff”. If you read the last post I wrote about hiking, you might recall that my last hike ended in a breakup. In the past six months since then I’ve moved my things from Huntsville, Alabama back to a storage unit in the Chicago suburbs, went back to my job as a flight attendant after being on leave for a little while, stayed at my dad and step mom’s house for three months, started dating someone, found a new apartment, and have generally been trying to keep up with (or rather, “have been overwhelmed by”) the things that come with all of that.
I made a friend once through a chance encounter while on a flight who I keep in touch with by e-mail every so often, and he regularly follows my blog posts when I am hiking. He sent me an e-mail recently asking about how I was doing, if I was still going on adventures, and hoping that I was ok. It occured to me that from the point of view of anyone just reading my blog posts, a lot is missing about actual life. The internet has a funny way of doing that, and my occasional posts are no exception. The posts only show the “cool” parts of my life, like having the title of being a flight attendant who goes on these hiking trips or spends time in drumming-related activities. The reality is that not every time in life is a period of time to have adventures.
Living a life to the fullest and having constant adventures requires building a life that way. My focus lately is on trying to adjust to being back in the Chicago area and balancing work, personal tasks, and a social life – a balance which I have found difficult to achieve thus far.
Moving tends to add a load of tasks to everyday life for a while, and I’m still caught in that. The to-do list just weeks ago seemed never-ending with basic tasks simply required to function in society, such as covering all of my bases where my address needed to be changed, finding a new gym and routine, gradually moving things from a storage unit into my apartment that gives me about half the space to work with as my previous apartments, among many other tasks. I welcome the downsize and wanted that for various reasons, but with that has come the seemingly endless challenge of deciding what is important to keep and what can be let go. The unpacking task isn’t so simple with very little space, and I had already previously parred my life down to contain only meaningful or functional items that I am now trying to reduce again. It takes time.
I have often found myself caught in a circle where I am not working as many hours as I’d like because I’m trying to sort out everything in my life, while also trying to catch back up with a social life that didn’t carry quite the same pressure while I was in Alabama because I wasn’t in the same place many of my friends were. The goal is to let this apartment be a “home base” rather than somewhere I spend a ton of time, although lately it’s been the opposite. I want to be working or hiking or setting out to achieve some traveling goals. And let’s face it – I also want some days where I do nothing but read and play piano. None of that is fully possible for me until I’ve caught back up with what it means to live back in the Chicago area, and have taken care of tasks at hand so that I can comfortably live the life I want to be living again.
I’ve found that the more time I spend away, the harder it is to fit back in.
I want to take advantage of a period of time where I can spend most of my time working or away, finishing the Appalachian Trail and completing some travel goals, but I find myself full of guilt when that means that the attention my friendships deserve will suffer because of it. I am so fortunate to live in a place surrounded by such great friendships, some nearly lifelong, yet living my dream life for a while where I leave each month to finish the adventures while maintaining a flight attendant work schedule when I’m home means that I can’t always keep up with a “Chicago” life, even though there are other times when I put my Chicago life at the forefront. When I get so overwhelmed with grasping for my own time for personal tasks while saying no to other things, I wind up tired and overwhelmed by the internal battle for my time and don’t actually accomplish much of what I really want to work on at all, making the process stretch out even longer.
The long term personal achievement goal is clear – to keep focusing my time on finishing the Appalachian Trail and flying more hours in the meantime. Right now, things are still about the goal to get to the goal: just managing the everyday stuff, the organizational tasks, the appointments and car repairs, and trying to feel like I’m settled in a place once again, so that I can get back to living a lifestyle that really works for me without causing more stress for myself every time I return. I prefer a solid foundation before I can jump off of it, and sometimes the process of putting the foundation together proves far more challenging than any hike or goal that will come once that foundation has been set.