Friday, May 27, 2005

i'll be as free as...

in october my lease is up, the two big commitments that i have made for the summer will be done... i'll be as free as ever i was.

reading the stories of those "third culture kids" helped crystallise some things i have been thinking about intensely for a few weeks. now i will tell the story of the little girl i was once, and probably still am.

recently a friend reminded me of what i would tell her when we were little: "i'll get married when i'm 40. until then i want to travel around the world and write and stuff. i'm gonna be murphy brown!"

i studied journalism at NYU and found myself much more interested in how mass communication works than in actually being a part of it. so maybe no murphy brown for me. in 2000, before i even got my journalism-media-studies degree, i landed a well-paying (for a fresh grad) internet startup job in manhattan. i tried living a normal yuppie life in new york. that went swimmingly for about a year, but then the job got all corporate and mean, and all of us awesome employees who had been there from the beginning couldn't take it anymore.

so i quit that job shortly after my stock options quarter-vested in May 2000. i was about to move to another internet startup when i attended the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America's national conference in early July. i had gone to this conference every year of my life; this time i was there for a couple of days. while i was there i kept running into the a certain family.

i knew this family (name redacted) from a short-term missions trip i had taken to moldova in 1996. they were a westernfamily who had moved to belarus in 1994 to plant and lead a messianic congregation in the capital city of minsk. during that conference in july of 2000, over a couple of sleepless nights, i heard pretty loud and clear that G-d wanted me to pick up and move to the former soviet union. my parents and others whom i respected thought it was the right move. that summer i corresponded with themand we made plans for me to spend 2001 in belarus.

thus began the journey i had always known i'd take. i realised that when i was a little girl, i was wiser to my own character than i was when i was trying to be a yuppie in new york. upon my return to the States, though, i gradually began to develop a life in my hometown of philadelphia, made (and re-made) amazing friends, fell in love with the congregation in which i'd grown up...

over the next few years i returned to belarus a few times, always for shorter and shorter stints: 6 months, 3 months, 6 weeks, one month... belarus was no longer a new and exotic place to explore; in many ways it had become just another job to me. and meahwhile, my life in philly was picking up. in October 2004 i signed on full-time to the job i'd freelanced in for about two years. i moved into a lovely apartment in narberth. (willie penn sold narberth as 'libertyville' to my ancestor edward reese price for three pounds in 1682.) "as long as i'm single," i thought to myself, "i'm staying in this apartment."

now i'm in a band or two, heavily involved in my wonderful congregation, helping plan activities for that same conference that changed my life back in 2000, making money off of some stocks i bought, my family is close by, i have amazing friends, i live on my broadband connection and i'm working my way through my netflix queue. i have another two-week stint in belarus coming up in the summer.

so. lately i can't shake the feeling that i'm turning into a yuppie again.

i admit i'm a restless person. wanderlust is just part of who i am. i also totally agree with the my rabbi's teaching that G-d doesn't really use "lone rangers"; if you want to be an effective servant of the L-rd, you need to be rooted in a congregation with leaders to whom you are accountable, relationships into which you are willing to invest on a long-term basis, &c.

at the same time, i'm feeling increasingly uncomfortable with my american lifestyle, and increasingly eager to explore something or somewhere totally new. my last stopgap solution was a trip to new zealand for a couple of weeks, but that only whetted my appetite for exploration.

at this point i'm willing to give up even the narberth apartment. and considering how much i love that place, this is a Big Deal. a few options that come quickly to mind: 1. get a car and dig in, living like a normal american, maybe take a train trip around the US and canada for a couple of months next summer
2. go live on an israeli kibbutz for a year
3. empty out my savings account and accrue credit card debt for the first time in my life in order to spend 6 months on a round-the-world trip

man, #3 sure sounds good. i've quite a bit of the northern hemisphere, so really it'd be a round-the-southern-hemisphere trip.

the ideal option: finding a job based in philly, which includes the necessity to explore different parts of the world for about three months out of each year. i have a deeply ingrained distrust of any governments or the UN, so that's right out. they probably wouldn't take me anyway. but i do want to help people, or at least be used in some way to tell their stories. anyone have any brilliant ideas?

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