For those of you who aren’t intimately familiar with my blogging history, let me give you a quick recap. In 2009, I bummed around and “studied” abroad in Spain. For some reason, I decided to document my adventures and The Purple Backpack was born. In 2011 I graduated from college and immediately fled the country–because Spain is amazing and I was bored with living in America. I lived in Spain for 2 years, traveling all over the European continent on my days off. When my contract ended in summer of 2013, I jumped over to Munich to test-drive a relationship. That lasted for 3 months*, and then I headed home to figure my life out.
I’ve been in Portland for 1 year, 2 months and 5 days. And for that entire time, I’ve been thinking about leaving again. As much as I present myself as bubbly and happily bohemian on this blog, this was actually not an easy decision for me. The truth is, I have a great thing going in Portland. If I were a different type of person, I would be content to stay where I am. But my wanderlust is powerful. And so, I’ve broken down the salient points of the argument I had with myself for your amusement.
My Life in Portland is Fantastic
I honestly love my city, my job, my housing situation, and my friends/family here.
I live in one of the weirdest cities in America. I walk down the street and literally cross paths with bicycling clowns and naked anarchists. I can find delicious food, beer and coffee pretty much everywhere! And Portlanders in their happy proud weirdness are always plotting fun adventures–yes, we should go to the Erotic Fanfiction Comedy Show**.
When I’m not sitting in artsy cafés and judging hipsters, I DO have a day job. In fact, my job is wonderful. It allows me to help people access healthcare that they (at times desperately) need. I use my Spanish skills everyday. My coworkers and managers are great people who truly care about our patients. And I have a stable full-time work with benefits in a city where being a part-time mixologist/bike mechanic/gnome sculptor is considered a valid career path!
When I first moved back, I spent 4 months sleeping on my friend’s couch (this is considered a valid housing option in Portland). But I currently share a house with 2 other ladies–and the house is a gorgeous 3-bedroom from the 1920s. This is a massive upgrade from my bedbug-infested Spanish apartment, or my larger, insect-free other Spanish apartment, or the Munich hippie co-op where I crashed for a month.
And yes, my friends in Portland are amazing. I have people here that I’ve known for years–which freaks me out when they start getting married and having babies. More seriously, a solid social group is something that I don’t take for granted–traveling teaches you that.
Career? What’s that?
I love my job. But…it’s not what I want to do for the rest of my life. Not that I have a clear idea of what I DO want–why yes I am a Millennial!
I taught ESL for two years in Spain. It was simultaneously a frustrating pain in the ass and a fulfilling exciting job. Which, including the attempted fires, seems to be normal for a teaching job. After a year of Not Teaching, I’m definitely missing it (teaching, not the work with fire extinguishers). However, I’m on the fence about actually making education my career. The thing is, if I want to work in ESL, I need more experience–experience that I can easily get abroad.
I also need to go to grad school at some point. And Portland does have a TESL Master’s program.
Overall, my uncertain plans for my career are pulling me both ways–staying or leaving.
I’ve talked about my wanderlust before. And the truth is, it still is a big part of who I am. I want to see the world. Staying in one place because it’s comfortable bores me!
When I was working in Spain, I traveled about once a month. Or more, if you count day trips around northern Spain. But that was Europe, where vacation time is fantastically generous by American standards. And cheap airlines give you a weekend in Mallorca for $50!
Here, I’ve managed 3 camping trips and ONE adventure involving the airport in the last year. I haven’t touched my passport since I landed in Oregon last September. Admittedly, it wouldn’t be impossible to travel more. It would just require careful planning (my vacation days need to be scheduled 6 weeks out) and much more expensive airfare. I never thought I’d miss Ryanair!
I do want to see more of America. It’s annoying to meet European travelers who’ve seen more of the US than I have! But even with the temptation of exploring my home country, I’m antsy. I’m remembering the fun of bouncing between hostels and stranger’s couches, seeing ancient buildings, drinking cheap wine with new friends, and making an ass of myself in a language I don’t really speak.
Conclusion: It’s Time to Travel!
Ha. Like anyone’s really surprised.
Now to figure out where, when, and how. Logistics, bleh.
*To the Aussie guy from the MunichHaufbrauhaus: yes, you were creepily accurate in giving my relationship a 3-month expiration date. I owe you a beer if I ever find you again.
**This is a thing. It involved Garfield, Pinky and the Brain, Guantanamo Bay and other traumatizing pervertedness.