When you travel there is this natural inclination to form comparisons between home and the vacation spot and often times it’s quite easy to find flaws with home as you relax far away from stress and responsibility. The sun is so much brighter here. The people all smile, and everything is so close by! No matter what locale you travel to, however, by the end of the trip, you are more than ready to venture back home. Home, after all, is the norm. It’s what you know and love and without even realizing it, you have been mentally mapping out your life intending to stay right there.
Ever since college I’ve realized more and more how many roots I’ve planted around North Carolina. I love this state. I’ve gone through more than two thirds of my life here and somehow at 25, I’ve planned my life around being here. Then Australia happened. And for the first time in my life I JUMPED at the chance to throw the largest of all monkey wrenches into my life plan. I immediately found myself comparing everything. With the aid of a few guidebooks I began rattling off random differences between Australia and the US. Did you know bananas can get crazy expensive there? Their winters are our SUMMERS. It’s so much closer to oceans than here! Everything there will try and kill me and here I just have mosquitos…
Somewhere mid-ramble, I caught myself. While in this moment comparisons are natural, I simply can’t compare the old with the new for the four years that I’m abroad. Whatever is there will not be “new” forever, it will be my new normal. Good, bad or ugly, it’s the new life. It will be the new home. Not necessarily better or worse, just different. And that is ok. Now, coming to this conclusion and living it out are two very different things. This life of non-comparison needs practicing if I have any hope of follow-through come February 2015. So when I went to San Diego this past week I figured it was a great place to start.
I’ve been to the west Coast just once before and that was to San Francisco (a whole different world—according to the Californians I know). The flight out was my first shocker. I might as well have flown to Europe for all those hours on the plane. But Australia will require 20+ hours of flying. Oh my gosh that’s so much LONGER than anywhere around—wait. Don’t compare.
The landscape as I flew into the airport was just incredible. Hills, ocean, beautiful houses, beaches…this area has it all. After all these years, I know my landings in Raleigh and Saint Louis like the back of my hand, but this landscape was brand new. As soon as the plane touched down I had this overwhelming feeling that I was embarking on an adventure- a mini-Australia if you will. After all, it is a heavily populated ocean city that’s got a cost of living not favorable to a student. Yep, sounds like Australia.
My aunt and uncle gave my sister and me the royal treatment. We went all over the city, hitting the ocean with some surf lessons, the beach for a lazy day, and the zoo for some exercise. Seriously, we thought we were going to see the animals, but in reality there are MOUNTAINS hidden within the San Diego Zoo. In between the activities we found plenty of time to indulge in delicious drinks and food (Grace and I agree a goal of the trip must have been to fatten us up with sweets).
I found that I loved being beside the ocean, which surprised me. I’ve always loved visiting the ocean, but I’d never thought of myself as the type of person to live beside it. The sun being constantly out made for some really hot days, but the close proximity to the ocean made for some cooling breezes. Suddenly my all too frequent “home to here” comparisons were weighing heavily in favor of the California beaches. It’s not that I liked it more than home, but my new resolve to be open-minded had me appreciating the ocean city life for what it was. The restaurants were fresh, the drinks were breezy and the weather was beautiful (not to mention the company was superb!). This life could be a life I would enjoy, and yet, I’m so settled where I am. Why am I so settled?
I’m learning more and more just how small my world is. I’ve said this in posts before, but I can’t stress it enough. We are so blessed in the US to be so connected to so many different cultures and lifestyles in this melting pot. Everyone talks about how easy it is to travel in Europe, and that seems a popular destination for Americans, but there’s so much of the US left for me to discover! In my whole life I’ve only made two trips to the west side of the country.
My trip to San Diego made me excited to be unsettled. It made me focus on all the positives of where I was without comparing. Normally I am not a fan of big cities and lots of people, but maybe that’s because I’ve always approached those cities with the comparison of home. If I only compare new things to my comfort zone, chances are I won’t ever find something new that comes anywhere close to my old. I must force myself to live beyond compare.Sure, you can’t help but to relate a few things back to your everyday life, but all in all I’m trying to focus on what the here and now offers. I need to make the most of where I am in each moment. And while the point of the post is to NOT compare, I can’t help but to think if Australia is anywhere close to what San Diego is…I might feel right at home!