I've been trying this grown up relationship thing for a while. No, not as in getting children and a mortgage and all, but the light version of it. We both travel lots and are far from conventional, but still: at the prospect of moving in with the girlfriend this summer, I have started accumulating lots of crap.

From the 8th red dress to make up I will never wear to a dozen kitchen appliances and fancy bowls, and even high quality bed sheets, I have been spending money like crazy, telling myself that I need all these things now. And you know what, somehow, I do. I knew in my heart of hearts when I moved to Belfast that it's time to put down some roots, if only very fine ones. But mostly, buying lots of stuff means another thing: at the end of the day, I don't have the money left to plan any multi-week escapes to other continents.

Because there's a part of me that wants to run away, not from commitment, not from the girl. Maybe from myself. Mostly though, it's a running towards something. 2012 was a fairly unsuccessful year in travel for me: with the exception of three cities, I didn't really love any of the places I went to, and so I decided that this year, I will only go to place I really long to go back to, or that my heart really wants to explore.

No more “x could be nice”. If my heart doesn't give me a “hell yes” when thinking of a place, I won't go there.

I've been discussing this with the girl and close friends for the past weeks: in between moving out of my current place and moving into the next place, I could travel for a little. Everybody already seemed to know where I would be going, but I wasn't that sure.

But somehow, the stars have aligned: weeks of cheap flight offers by good airlines, all the books I read, all the movies I 've been watching, all the food I've been eating and all the new people I got in touch with.

I should be lying awake at night thinking of moving in with a partner for the first time in my life, but instead I lie awake and think of convenience store rice balls, neon-coloured shopping malls and train trips where you spend hours going past green mountains and rice paddies intersected by wooden houses and twee little vegetable patches.

So, this May, I'm going back to Japan, and giving South Korea another chance.

Which places keep you up at night?


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