Six months. Six months of new experiences. Six months of brilliance. Six months of torture. Six months of personal breakthroughs. Six months of loneliness. Six months of fun, enlightenment, friendship, and ecstasy. Six months of hardship, anguish, despair, and banality.
That’s a lot of shit right there. I know you’re thinking I’m being dramatic, so I’ll try to explain.
Day 1 in a new city is incredible. It’s incredibly good and it’s incredibly bad. You arrive, tired after a day of travel, and if you’re any friend of mine, also a couple of drinks. You’re tired and you just want to go home and be comfortable, but home is someplace new. If it was a hotel, it would be easier, because hotels all over the world have the same amenities, the same layouts, the same mattresses, the same sheets, the same boring as fuck everything. They’re meant for you to feel at home, at least if you frequent hotels. Instead, you’re in a new apartment. Someone’s home, or former home, or at least a temporary home. There’s no standard layout, no courtesy phone to dial zero by the bedside, no desk near the window, no mini-fridge with pilot bottles of vodka to settle in with (although that’s a business idea RY should consider). Instead, you have to start getting used to the intricacies of a new home, a new culture, right away. What do you mean you can’t flush the toilet paper here? What the fuck is this thing next to the toilet that sprays water straight up (it’s a bidet, by the way) and where’s the towel so you can wipe it off your face (that didn’t happen to me, I swear)? You have to shower in less than three minutes or the water turns to ice? Ugh, someone check me into the Hilton.
Day 2. OK, time to venture out. You go buy the things you need. Soap (how do you say soap in this language?), toothpaste, eggs, bread, yogurt, jelly, peanut butter. Wait, they don’t have peanut butter here. THEY DON’T HAVE PEANUT BUTTER HERE? What kind of backwater, third world, heathen society did you just get into? How can a society survive without peanut butter? And holy shit, they have peanuts! What are they doing with their lives? OK, you’ve gotten past this little snag, they have Nutella. That’ll do for a month. You can survive. Dammit, you don’t understand this currency. The blue bill was a fifty last month, now it’s a five. That green twenty used to be a five-thousand. You look like an idiot, but you figure it out. You grossly overpay. Provisions acquired. You go home. But you’re sure as hell not eating any of that tonight. You just got here, you’re going out to try some new food, new restaurants. This is amazing. You can make chicken this way? What kind of booze is this? Do you care? Nope, keep drinking. Day 2, success.
Day 3. It’s Monday, jackass. Get up, have a Gatorade (you did buy that yesterday, right?), and go to work. Yep, this isn’t vacation, you have to earn your living somehow. Shower, get to the workspace (if that’s your jam), and buckle down, because your boss, while sympathetic and cool, really doesn’t give a shit that you just traveled X-hundred miles or that you’re hungover. You signed up for this voluntarily, get to work, dammit. Lunch time! New places, new experiences, give me all the new flavors! You screwed up the currency again though, probably overpaid. Work more. Dinner time, yay, new places, new experiences, give me all the new flavors again! You’ve almost got a handle on the currency by now, you think to yourself, as a cab driver rips you off.
Day 4. Work again, same lunch experiences. It’s almost like a routine already. Who knew amazing could be routine? City orientation after work, that’ll be fun. Learn about the city, meet the city team, start planning your month, and then get plastered afterwards with your group of the closest, most amazing, most interesting seventy-plus friends you’ve ever had in your life because you have to handle the anxiety of this month and all it has to offer somehow.
Days 5-14. Work. Events. Tons of events. RY does nothing if not keep you busy. There are events RY plans for you. There are events other Remotes plan. Sometimes there are even events you plan. Local experiences, talks, tastings, dinners, drinks, hiking, climbing, surfing, drinking, wandering, sunsetting, picnicing–if you can think it, you can do it somewhere. Except find peanut butter, because fucking peanut butter. Real life doesn’t stop though, but that’s the point of working remotely, really. You wish you could do all those things all the time, but there’s still work, and laundry, and haircuts, and you realize how much money you’re spending on eating out, so you cook a few meals at home. Oh, and you’ve already thrown out half the groceries from Day 2 because you never ate them, because you were busy with events, so you buy new groceries.
Day 15. It’s been two weeks, and you’ve been running around so much with work and events that you haven’t talked to anyone at home since arriving. You call your brother, sister, mom, dad, girlfriend, boyfriend, whatever it is you do, really, and you remember how far away you are from them, and how much you miss them, and how much you miss home, and how much you miss pizza, and a cheeseburger, and peanut butter, and working from a real desk, and being able to do laundry the same way every week, and not having to pull up Google Translate to get a haircut. It’s a good thing Day 15 is a Saturday, because working today would seriously suck. But, there’s more events to do, more things to see, more foods to taste, and vistas to absorb. So get off your ass and do it!
Day 16. It’s Sunday. You recover from your hangover from last night, and get brunch. Or maybe you just stay home. A day off. Sleep in. Watch Netflix. Order in with Uber Eats or whatever the local delivery company is in this peanut-butter-less amazing shithole jewel of a city you’ve wound up in. Wow, this is comfortable. Maybe you’ll do this all week.
Days 17-21. OK, you did this all week. Routine has set in. Banality. It’s like you’re used to being in this new city, you don’t even miss peanut butter. You’ve accepted that your clothes come back from the laundromat smelling like coconut, and that you have to take out your bathroom trash regularly so it doesn’t smell like used toilet paper.
Days 22-27. You realize you’re only here for a few more days. You go to the farewell party. You go to all the places you’ve been saying you’ve wanted to go to, but didn’t have time because you were too busy futilely looking for a PB&J on Uber Eats. You recover from a few more hangovers. You check your bank account and sob. How the hell can you spend so much money in a third world, backwater, shithole, amazing, jewel of a city? But who cares? You saw a new city. You experienced it with amazing people. You tasted new foods, and scaled new mountains, and tasted new flavors, and woke up in entirely new beds, and it was fucking fabulous.
Day 28. You pack, take a nap, go out and drink all the local booze you can find because who knows when you’ll get to drink it again. You cry a bit because you’re going to miss the new local friends you’ve made, but you’ll be back, you swear. This has been the best month of your life, except for maybe last month, or possibly next month. Maybe they’ll have peanut butter in the city next month?
Day 29/Day 1. Start over. Repeat 11 times.
“Life always begins with one step outside of your comfort zone.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones. We have to break the rules. And we have to discover the sensuality of fear. We need to face it, challenge it, dance with it.”
― Kyra Davis
“Never say ‘no’ to adventures. Always say ‘yes’, otherwise you’ll lead a very dull life.”
― Ian Fleming