happy june! we are entering one of the best times of the year and i couldn’t be more pleased with these light evenings and warm sunny days. not only that, we have now had our little dog for six whole months now (!!!) and next month we’ll be headed back to the united states for five weeks! life is so good. lately we’ve just been living the “south bohemia” life – nothing much to put on paper.
in fact, i suppose that’s why i haven’t had much to say lately (that i haven’t already micro-blogged on instagram, that is – hah). i certainly have been around and not too busy (although last week though was pretty nuts and i am still exhausted!). when i have written, i felt like i couldn’t publish anything as my thoughts were either much too disparate to put into a post or frankly, just too honest. all i’ve currently got are just a swirling of thoughts… but i suppose, in the spirit of blogging, i could try to share them (like this post, weeks in the making), even though perhaps they are not to be made sense of.
something has been unsettling me lately about living here in south bohemia. it’s probably because earlier this year, we passed the four year mark of living here. i’ve been living in this apartment longer than any other place since i left my hometown to go to college – that is insane to me. four years is significant. we spend four years attending high school. i spent four years at college getting a bachelor’s degree. then i spent almost exactly four years post-college working in seattle. my life has been a series of four year increments. this time, there isn’t anything on the horizon. no new changes planned. we will stay here in southwest czech republic for awhile longer. i no longer stop and think very long when i’m asked how long i will stay. “some more years,” i quickly reply.
the thing that makes me wonder, besides allllll of the other countless things that make me wonder on a daily basis (about what i am doing here, etc etc), is that it comes down to….
life, here, right now, is very easy.
(i say this with the ease and grace of a person who hasn’t stepped foot in immigration in over a year because of my snazzy two year visa – don’t worry, my time is coming…)
i don’t usually have to hustle at my job as i’m a freelancer and create my own schedule (with my students). it’s often sunny and the climate is excellent. i sit outside on weekday mornings and drink coffee with my husband and dog. the public transport system is almost too good; essentially door to door service. there is an incredibly relaxed vibe to life here that is not found in most other places i’ve been to. everyone is so live and let live. there are never any rude disruptions or anything else unsavory. people are generally friendly (guarantee i wouldn’t have said that in my first year here!). you pass friends on the weekends in town, with their sunglasses, smiles, and easy strides – you know they feel it too. that’s why people don’t leave here. that’s why we don’t leave here.
alex and i even created a hashtag on instagram (#sobodayz) to showcase our most magical and pure south bohemia moments that capture this essence. now that the warmer months are here (hooray!), it’s all even better.
there are many things about the life i’ve personally discovered living here in south bohemia and what society has told me throughout my life that just do not jive together. you should be hustling in your twenties (well, the part of my twenties spent in america, yep – i did). you should be working as hard as you possibly can, while you can – these american values. living here, there’s none of that because there doesn’t have to be. it almost feels like “early retirement” some days… even though i promise i’m still working, and working hard. (especially with the upcoming trip to the states on the horizon) when you’re happy with your job, and there’s no ladder to climb, then what? it’s hard to explain this phenomenon to my friends here, who have suggested i spend more time on hobbies and personal goals, which is nice and helpful, but it still doesn’t get at the heart of the matter. perhaps i should accept contentedness and stop driving forward at something, which seems either antithetical to either my nature, how i was raised in america, or both.
ever the questioning one, i have been asking for a month or so now if life should be this easy feeling this early on. the general ease makes me almost uncomfortable sometimes. i mean, that’s not how i thought it would be at this stage in life! but perhaps, this is what life in europe, especially in a region removed from the bustling capital, is like? in this country, people regularly enjoy four to five weeks of paid vacation a year, not to mention one of the most generous parental maternity leaves in europe. americans sometimes like to poke fun at european governments (especially in the northern regions) for being, in our eyes, too socialized.
i have still spent twenty six years in america, so this learned guilt for a relaxed lifestyle surely will continue to follow me until perhaps, one day it just withers away. the same way that the unfriendly-looking faces on the streets finally turned into neutral ones. i hope so. if my horoscope for last week was any indication (oh mannn, it was on the nose), i need to forge my own way free from societal expectations.
after i wrote this post, alex and i went out on a cafe on the square (it was monday morning and we both happened to be free) and i didn’t think about this stuff at all. a life like this requires a little bit of living in the moment and enjoying where i am today, even if it isn’t as fancy as i one day thought it would be in my early thirties. then again, my only hopes for my future self, which i wrote right before high school graduation at the behest of a guidance counselor, were to be “wise and happy”. trying to make good on that.
if you live abroad, tell me, how to do you reconcile your new lifestyle with values and beliefs from your home country? x
this post is a part of wanderful wednesday.