I wrote this while rather scared in Starbucks last Saturday:
The six month lease on the apartment ended today, and I don’t exactly have a long term plan to stay anywhere.
I woke with a hangover at 5am, and helped clear the last of the house. Housemate Adriaan left first (to a hostel nearby), and then Amy left clutching a pot and looking tearful. Nicola and I shared a cab to her new place in Trujillo because the mall was nearby. And that’s where I am now, trying to write with dodgy internet.
In the taxi I found 200 soles I forgot that I had, which I had put with my passport. What a win! When I left the taxi on an unusually sunny day, I walked with a backpack, my wallet, phone (with no credit), and passport. That is all. My suitcase is in my girlfriend’s room, so the sense of freedom or insecurity right now is only an illusion. I still have to go to work on Monday, and I still have relationships here. But it occurred to me that I could go anywhere I want right now. There’s a big part of me that thinks, ‘why not?’
The apartment and the job has kept me grounded for six months. It’s the apartment mostly. When we first moved in I breathed a sigh of relief and in the seclusion of my room next to the garage at the back I had a place to call my own – the first moments of privacy I’d had for two months in a foreign country. We had a lounge room to watch Netflix and our kitchen. I had my own bathroom. And regular commitments to paying rent.
I need the job to make money so I can live. But at some point the job took over. It became everything. I have obsessed over it teaching about world wars, the Incan Empire, and Peruvian presidents. I have tried to be the best at this job and find myself in meetings with parents, and disciplining teenagers.
Yesterday I ate KFC and binge watched Gossip Girl. Today I watched movies and ran to buy ice-cream. Tonight I’m finishing this draft listening to Friends.
Yes. All this culture is incredible.
I’ve been in the mountains over the Christmas season and when I returned to the beach town Huanchaco (where I intend on staying while teaching) my housemates (introduced here) had secured an apartment to live in.
And it is great. My room is near the garage out the back, and I love being the recluse. Living the dream would be for a sibling to be rich and successful with a mansion and a huge family. I’d be the cool uncle living under the pool table.
The lounge room and kitchen is huge, and we have a large TV to watch Netflix on (courtesy of housemate Amy. And it’s Canadian Netflix. Not that piece of crap Netflix they gave Australians in the hope they would pirate less).
While I rested in my room for the first time I realised that I was more relaxed than I had been in…a while. It’s the first bedroom I’ve really felt at home in for three years (how many bedrooms have I had in in that time? I count five, but it could actually be more). I had my own space and the apartment was a safe space. The outside world was Peru, with its cultural differences and language barrier.
What I wouldn’t give right now for a book in English. Even an e-book.
A few days ago I realised I felt a type of restriction in the world around me, and a big part of that is the language. I need to know more Spanish because without it the conversations can’t move beyond a ‘I will have fries with that’ or ‘another coffee please’. Even asking how much those fries and coffee is has their limitations when I fumble with the change. It’s embarrassing and sometimes stressful.
And so…for a moment, I feel safe in the apartment with my housemates (who either don’t drink much or are cutting out for a month. To be honest, I am relieved as I consider doing the same).
I have moved around a lot and often my mind reflects on the past and on the future and so I never quite settle into where I am. It’s occurred to me that I can stop living from a suitcase for once, if I allow myself to. I can actually make a life for myself in Peru, and not use it as a travel holiday or a transition to avoid living. I can create hobbies not for self-improvement or to prove how much of an adventure I am on. I could do things that extend on who I am like learning to cook rice (ha ha ha, I already bought a pack), or learn Spanish with commitment, or work at a nearby bar. I already have a membership at a gym although I have slacked off lately. In fact, I can go right now, if I allow myself to (I won’t because I’ve never quite recovered from eating guinea pig nine days ago).
When I wrote that I wished I could read an e-book it occurred to me that I could. It’s actually news to me that I can download e-reader programs on my Iphone until I realised that is what housemates were doing (Housemates. Holy crap my life is a Big Brother episode). It only took a minute to download the program and find old books I had on file from almost three years ago. I have my entire Princess of Mars series (a collection by the author of Tarzan. They made the first book into a Disney film called John Carter and it’s about aliens on Mars, and flying ships).
There’s my embarrassing books as well, such as ‘the shy man’s guide to personal and dating success’, and Holly Madison’s memoir of life in the Playboy Mansion.
But yes! I also have a modern Sherlock Holmes adventure (The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. I recommend this), Gone Girl, and (alright!) Charles Bukowski’s Post Office. That’s getting another read tonight because I miss his beautiful meanings hidden among the angry, bitter cynicism of the lower class American working life.