“Why are you leaving?”
I get asked this all the time.
“Why would you even want to move to a foreign country, especially one that doesn’t have Canada’s glorious standard of living, to a town of 300 people that doesn’t even have a paved road, streetlights, grocery store or potable water, and take an 80% pay cut (if you even find work at all)?”
I guess that’s a fair question….
The answer is long, and complicated. Or is it? Maybe it’s just to experience something different for a while. Just to see if waking up every day on a gorgeous Caribbean island and diving every day will feel the same as waking up in Vancouver and going to work in a cubicle every day. Just to check if the novelty wears off. Just to know if I really need the expensive restaurants, being entertained by boyfriends, $12 cocktails, fancy dress clothes for work, high end yoga studios, $75 haircuts, IKEA furniture and endless appointments, social commitments and pedicures to be happy.
And there’s only so many times you can be told by the most important person in your life that they want to be with you forever but then they leave. You can only get to a certain age before people start wondering why you aren’t popping out kids and selling your soul to buy a $700,000 townhouse in Coquitlam with a white picket fence and granite counter-tops. There’s a limit to how many times you can go to work and do your job every day and be offered a measly 3% raise each year and a half-hearted pat on the back for a job well done, apparently. There comes a time when you realize you’ve been doing the exact same thing every day for a long time and you’re probably going to keep doing it for the next 40 years. There’s a maximum number of days that you can spend running around trying to please everyone and being told what to do all day long. And all those things scared the living shit out of me.
When you’re an expat or a long-term traveler, no one questions why you aren’t married yet. No one wonders why you don’t have kids, or why you are still renting an exorbitantly priced 1968 Kitsilano apartment by yourself with no closets, a pink toilet and silverfish everywhere. No one expects you to settle down or to sell out. There’s no 15-hour workdays. You just slow down and enjoy the perpetual “mañana” where everything can wait until you feel like it.
So I’m leaving because I want something different. I want to have enough time to experience and enjoy having no commitments past “hey, might see you for a beer later at Sundowner’s”. I want to not wear a watch without panicking. I want to not hate going to work in the morning. I want to be able to go to work and not get in trouble for looking too casual. I want to go out without makeup on and not feel like a freak. I want to wear flipflops every day because these fucking dress shoes have been hurting my feet for too many years and I’m sick of it. I want to not have to buy anything except groceries and rum punch and have that be enough.
Yes, I’ll have a hard time adjusting to this. My neuroses and chronic need to adhere to a timetable will not disappear right away. I will still get upset when the boat doesn’t arrive on time or people stand me up because someone invited them to a BBQ on the beach and they forgot about having a drink with me. But I will get better at it, and at least then I will know what it’s like to have that lifestyle, and really live it instead of just showing up and trying to do it for a couple weeks on vacation. So I guess the real reason I am leaving is curiosity. I want to know what it’s like, so I’m going to go do it. Maybe it’s as simple as that.