I had no Philly clients, but within a few weeks I was offered short-term consulting work with a local non-profit. The position would mean a 3 month commitment - it had been a long time since I stayed in one place that long! But it was a great opportunity and the work sounded interesting. It would also enable me to work on a few other project ideas that had been brewing over the past few months. My friend agreed to having me around for a bit longer, so I decided to give it a shot and settled in.
It was a roller coaster transition. There were the wonderful things - reuniting with old friends, time with family, planning meals, geo-meetups, delicious craft beer, live music, and creature comforts like a french press and my own sheets. It was fun exploring Philadelphia, and it is a great city with much to offer - history, cobblestones, music venues, pop-up parks & beer gardens, yoga classes, art museums, the wonderful bike path along the Schuylkill River, new friends, train rides to my father's house, weekend festivals, & to ring in 2015 there was Mummers! It is a bikeable city with plenty of culinary offerings, and even 'bad' pizza isn't pretty darn good! Philadelphia is also accessible to the other east coast cities, and Baltimore was just a train ride or a Greyhound away.
Before I knew it, August became December, and my stay crept from 3 to 5 months. It was a new world - I was commuting to an office, developing a routine, making plans, and having friends and relatives ask questions about my future, weekend, work day, love life... I also came to realize that while I was traveling many of the people I love had moved onto a different stage of their lives. Weddings, engagements, baby showers, house-warming parties... there were many wonderful occasions, and I was grateful to celebrate with others. But these events also reinforced that I was becoming an exception. A single woman in her thirties without kids, pets, or a permanent address... I realized how much pressure we can put on ourselves to adhere to a certain lifestyle and follow societal norms. It was overwhelming at times. I don't even stay put long enough to have a house plant! I began to question things and to rely on the feedback loop. The confidence I gained and independence I cherished during my travels began to waiver. I missed meeting fellow travelers, trying mystery street food, being incognito, not understanding the language, and the excitement travel brings. I also missed warm weather - this was my first taste of winter in 2 years. Snow bird, I understand! When I hesitated to leave Philadelphia and follow some leads in Mauritius, I knew it was time to go. I needed to renew my faith in my own decisions, and continue to live my life the way that makes me happy and fuels my passion and love for the world.
My time in Philly reminded me of the reasons I travel and the relationships I cherish. I am grateful for amazing friends and family, and wouldn't be where I am now without their love and support. I had time and space to reflect on my travels and lessons learned. I was reminded to keep listening no matter where you are, and to find wonder in each day. In the end, do we ever truly know what tomorrow brings? What our partner, children, friends, or family will wake up thinking? If our job will be there in 6 months? If our health will? It is all the great unknown, and we can pay the final price only for ourselves. A wise friend told me that every day is a gift. I am grateful for each day, and believe that the beauty lies in how each of us choose to use that gift.
Today, I choose to find out why Mauritius beckons...