All across social media I see pictures of kids going off to their first day of school. Some of these kids I remember when they were heading off to Kindergarten and now they are heading off to their first day of High school.
I catch myself feeling nostalgic and even a little sad with each new photo I scroll past. My own teens are still sound asleep in their beds after a late night of playing Clue and Scattergories and Novie is having a blast at her babysitter’s house getting some much needed attention and play time.
I sit here and write. I write out my emotions because that is the easiest way to express myself.
The bread man rides by beeping his horn trying to lure me down to buy some fresh baked bread. I can almost smell it from my room that sits above the noisy street.
It is surprisingly cool this morning but I know the blazing Merida heat will soon fill my room forcing me to close my windows and turn on the AC. Until then, I enjoy the sound of chirping birds, beeping bicycle horns, and the steady sweeping of my housekeeper below.
Traveling has forever ruined me. Let me explain what I mean by this.
I keep saying that I am completely over living back in the United States but the truth of the matter is there are times I truly miss my hometown of Austin, TX. I miss the fun memories and friendships we created. Lord knows I miss Target and Amazon!
I miss driving my FJ Cruiser around feeling like a complete badass in it.
The quirky, hippie, unique vibe of Austin does have this pull on me like no other. I still remember the first time I visited Austin back in 2009.
I was in San Antonio, TX living with a friend when I typed in simple living cities in the U.S. Austin came up in the top 10 and since it was only an hour and a half away from San Antonio, I decided to take a day trip there.
I remember driving around Austin neighborhoods and seeing little farms in front yards and chickens in the road in the middle of the city.
The energy of the city was inviting.
I felt like I belonged right away. This was what I had been searching for.
I immediately went back to San Antonio and started searching online for a place to live in Austin. A week later, we moved to a small neighborhood named Brentwood/ Crestview in Austin.
Our first home was a small two bedroom cottage with a huge garden out front. It was an absolute dream.
Actually, out of all the houses I have lived in, it is still my absolute favorite. Picking that home and that city was the first time I started truly designing the life of my dreams. At the time, I knew nothing about manifestation, mindset, or any of that woo stuff really.
I wanted a slower and more intentional life where the girls and I would walk to their school, wake slowly on weekends, watch less TV, grow our own food, raise chickens, and build true friendships.
I yearned for a sense of belonging and a cure for my chronic major depression.
I was still transitioning out of life in the military.
This new city and new home would help me on my healing journey.
I knew not a soul in Austin, TX when I moved there alone as a single mom with a 4 and 5-year-old but it was an adventure I felt ready for. The move felt necessary.
Thus began my Tango with Austin, TX. I would leave Austin only to run back to it multiple times over the next 9 years.
I would go from being a single mom, to getting married, to becoming a step mom, to getting divorced, and then becoming a single mother again only this time to three girls instead of two.
Now, instead of Austin being my sanctuary there was a mix of very dark memories in this city I had first fallen in love with years before.
When I decided to get rid of all my possession back in 2016 and travel the world, I never imagined that I wouldn’t return back to Austin, TX to live but here we are three years later living abroad in Merida, Mexico instead of Austin, TX.
I have to ask myself why? Why am I not back in the city that first stole my heart back in 2009? I swore I would raise my girls there and spend the rest of my life there.
The truth of that matter is that traveling the world forever ruined me.
I am not the same woman who donated and sold all her material items and pieced herself together enough to book tickets to Puerto Rico to start an adventure of travel and living abroad that would forever change her.
That woman didn’t know what true love was. She didn’t know that true love started with herself and until she could fully love herself, she would never fully understand true love.
That broken woman didn’t understand that she needed to go on a journey that would break her down all the way before slowly helping her transform into a more enlightened, understanding, loving, kind hearted, and beautiful soul.
Like a phoenix she rose again but this time as a whole woman no longer broken by the abuse she endured for years.
Traveling opened my eyes in ways I could have never imagined. I finally saw people as good. I saw the world as good through travel. Some of the people with the least amount of material possessions were the happiest and kindest souls.
They invited me in and fed me. They wiped my tears and built me back up when I didn’t think I could make it through another day.
The people I met on my journey didn’t care what car I drove, what house I lived in, or how much money I had. None of that mattered to them.
With eyes wide open, it is hard to ever see myself back in Austin, TX and sometimes that truly hurts. Each time I return to the United States for a visit I fall back in Love with Austin for the first few days.
But then as quickly as I fall in love, I wake up again to my new reality. I’ve changed. My girls have changed, and we no longer fit in. It no longer feels right when we are back in the U.S.
I am trying to pin point why that is. Why doesn’t it feel right?
I can tell you a few things that I have observed. In the U.S., people seem busy and unhappy. Now, I know this is not the case for everyone but it is definitely the case for a lot of people.
Actually, the vibe in the U.S. is so beat down. People seem so defeated. Each time I return it seems worse than before.
Returning to the U.S. makes me feel like I am no longer free which is crazy considering it is considered the land of the free. Now, Let me jump in here before things get taken the wrong way with this ramble of emotions.
I am privileged. I am an extremely privileged American citizen who earns the U.S. dollar which allows me to travel and live abroad in different coutnries where the U.S. dollar is super strong against the local currency.
This affords me a life where I can have nannies, personal guitar lessons, salsa lessons, eat out often, take many trips, work less, play more, and basically live how I want.
My passport alone gives my a whole bunch of priviledge and there is no other way to state that. Not everyone has that priviledge but I will say that if you are a U.S. citizen you have a shit load of priviledge. YOU JUST DO.
A lot of people live by invisible society rules. In the U.S. those rules are kids are not to be kids. They are to sit down, shut up, and be mini robots.
You are to go to school, go to college, get married, buy a house, have a baby, and maybe go on a vacation once a year.
You are to be so exhausted from the job you hate that you come home and can’t do anything else but drown yourself in TV.
You are overwhelmed by laundry, cooking, cleaning, and maintaining your household.
You have forgotten what true happiness feels like.
True happiness is found in being present in the moment which seems downright impossible due to all the distractions that come from social media, the news, unsupportive family members, work, and school.
Every moment I spend abroad my eyes are opened more and more to a new reality of love, peace, kindness, freedom, and healing.
I have built deep friendships and I am part of a loving community and, I no longer feel alone.
I am ruined because I will no longer be able to fit into U.S. society. I no longer see the world through rose colored glasses. My eyes are wide open.
Sometimes, I wish I could share time in the back in the city I first fell in love with but I don’t how to. I don’t know how to keep the depression at bay that always finds me within a few days of returning the U.S.
If you would have told me that travel and living abroad would be the only medicine I needed to treat a lifetime of depression, I would have chosen to book plane tickets instead of swallowing all those various pills over the years.
Why are we treating the symptoms instead of getting to the root cause of the problem? Why did it take me getting rid of everything I owned and setting off on a personal journey with my kids to finally discover true happiness.
All I know now is that traveling forever ruined me. There is no going back. From here I can only go forward with this newfound awareness and new reality.