Note: The Rules & Guidelines for the Yes Test can be found here.
One of the perks of the sort of travel I'm doing, the sort that blurs the line between living in a new country and visiting a new country, is that every month or so I get to go through the same emotions again and again and again, and after 10 months of this, I've finally got my shit together enough to recognize some patterns.
Mostly, I find that every time I have to pack up, I have a disturbingly strong desire to burn everything I own and sacrifice it to the Canadian/Cambodian/Croatian gods so as to rid myself of whatever crap I've worked through in the country that I'm leaving. It's like whatever issue pops up during that country just sticks to everything I own like honey dripped off a slathered slice of hangover toast. Then you go to clean it up, but in the meantime your shirt has wrinkled over the honey drip, so now it's all stuck together and starting to seep into your skin. And by the time you get home to wash it off, it's magically attracted cat hair even though you don't own a cat and now it's a sticky, crusty, furry mess that surely won't come out in your janky Malaysian washing machine, so the clear solution is just to soak the whole thing in leftover vodka and use the stove to light the soiled costume on fire so you never have to deal with this bullshit ever again.
Also, I've noticed that I start to grieve the place I'm leaving well before I actually leave. I don't notice it at first, and instead figure that it's related to the fact that I'm categorically unemployed and homeless, with no clarity on what's going to happen in either one of those situations when I inevitably run out of money. At that point, I usually go and apply for a few jobs that will reject or never get back to me, take a nap, or hope that one of my professional degenerate friends will win a major poker tournament and hire me as a live in cook. It hasn't occurred to me, until packing up to leave Vancouver, that my low energy and terrible mood was simply realizing that the hourglass is mostly gone and that the life I lived in each place is nearly over.
While in the last few days I have acute awareness of the last late evening sunset walk along English Bay, the last date with someone I've grown to attached to, or the last long talk with a lifelong friend, in the glum weeks before I let the warmth of the midnight sun, the nuances of getting to know someone, and the constancy of an old friend pass me by while I wonder, "What's next?"
But I know now, after so much practice, that this is my pattern. I was already a week or so into the Yes Test when the hourglass came into my view and instead of aimlessly wandering through the endless spiral staircase in my head, I was forced to leave the house and break old patterns of self medicating through seclusion. And now I have two new friends. I wrote about worry, and then love. I exercised with a 25lb cat named Steve — all early forays into the possibility of yes.
And so, on my last evening in Vancouver, when I sat wrapped in a blanket on the patio, sipping on South African wine while while peering in the endless apartment building windows and watching people go about their ticky tacky lives*, I found that I was glad to be leaving. I was in Vancouver for 67 days, and I'm seriously considering a semi-permanent move there, once my year of casual vagrancy ends. I'm not meant to be a life long nomad. For now, though, I need to get on the road and test a few more goodbyes — Chile, Argentina, and for one last time, New York City and the life I once knew. I'm hoping to embrace the hourglass and savor each granule of time as it falls to join a pile of fading memories, to slow down and get a 17th, 18th, and 19th chance. Because how often, really, do you get to relive a scenario with the knowledge you gained the first time around? To overwrite regret? To replace what if with what is? And to know that no matter how many goodbyes have been had, there's always a chance to return.
*not in a creepy way like with binoculars, but when you're sitting on a 12th floor deck you're not going to not watch all of the people making dinner in front of their giant windows and make up stories about their lives.