Some time in the chilly blur of January it dawned on me that I was unfulfilled. Not unhappy, but unfulfilled. It probably happened when I had to catch a tube. I was probably running late, which is the only good reason to catch the tube, and someone was probably running later, pushing and grunting. It might have been in a quiet moment in the cafe, while writing skinny flat white on a little brown notepad. Or when I was walking in the grey street all rain damp and wrapped in scarves, and no one looked me in the eye. I’ve lost the moment it happened, but I woke up one day knowing quite suddenly and with absolute certainty that I had to leave.
Most travellers are searching for something. I don’t believe we’d leave the comfort of home if we were completely fulfilled by what we found there. My generation has the blessing and the curse of boundless opportunity. There is always more for us, if only we strike out to find it. It is perhaps for this reason that we are always wanting more. More, even, with each fulfilment we find. Each time we achieve a dream we begin to dream again, bigger and more fiercely. The back burners of our minds are always simmering away a new plan, a goal, some new challenge or improvement or excitement. I’m no different. I simmer strongly, and I usually give in to the urge for change.
I adore London. But I was a temperamental lover. I fell in and out of love without warning, I yelled, I sooked, I apologised, we embraced. We’d fight about money constantly. It was never going to work out. In the end, London is too big for me, too fast, too concerned with some things I’m not: cash, speed, appearances, getting ahead.
I didn’t faff about. Within two months I left London behind. I don’t think it will notice I’m gone.
I’m writing this barefoot while I watch the last of the night’s rain drip from the thatched roof above me and dimple the surface of a little blue tiled pool. Montanita, Ecuador. It’s 8am and the wet air hasn’t quite reached the tropical heat of full day. From beyond the line of palms and papayas at the edge of the property there’s music playing, an overlapping chorus of voices in Spanish. It’s the rubbish truck, which sings its way through the town every day, cheering itself on. In a few months when I leave this town I’ll understand the words of the song. For now it’s a perfect crackling soundtrack to my breakfast of little ripe bananas and maracuyá. The town wakes slowly.
I know why I’m here. I take my little yellow notebook to Spanish school every day, hoping finally to have two languages in my arsenal. I go out and get pounded by perfect curling waves for a few hours and call it surfing. I practice yoga every sunset on the rooftop overlooking the sea. For now, I have goals. Reasons to be here rather than anywhere else.
When I moved to London I was looking for more: more opportunity, more excitement, greater challenges. I wanted more knowledge and more understanding. And now I’ve left London to search for more again: more meaning, more nature, more stillness, new challenges, and even more adventure.
I’ll learn a new language, and learn again how I am when I’m alone. I’ll learn to surf, learn new things about the ocean, and find adventures in new places with new people. I hope I’ll go back to my old people one day filled with inspiration.
I will try always to remember to appreciate what I have. I’ll be grateful for my health and my happiness. Then, probably, I’ll look for something more.