I’m not a big talker. Never have been. In conversations, meetings, social events I think a lot before bringing up a topic of conversation or responding to someone. I mean I think A LOT. I think through entire scenarios, conversations or events in my head before saying something. Or maybe I say nothing, I just keep thinking. I’m so much fun at parties, you should definitely invite me over.
“Do you want to go to the museum tomorrow?” Jason will ask. “Let me think about it” I’ll respond. And I do. I think about it. I do some research online and then I think about what I learned. I’ll think about what else I need to get done the next day. I’ll think about the cost and the time and the weather. And then I’ll think some more. Sometimes he’s still waiting for a response hours later. And I’m still thinking and not saying anything. Oh my god it drives him crazy because he just wants me to say something. And I just want to say something meaningful. I’m an introvert I just don’t talk to talk. It’s not my way and I promise that I’ll say what I need to say eventually. Now you really want me at your next party, don’t you?
Actually, you maybe do want to invite me to your next party because you know who I’ll bring with me? Jason. And that guy? Oh that guy is great at parties because he likes to talk. A lot. And to a lot of people. About a lot of things. He thinks fast and talks almost as fast. It’s not that he doesn’t think things through like I do, he just does it a lot faster. He likes to talk about politics and sports and music and history and a fishing video he just watched and that time in college that the Winnebago broke down on the way home from Spring Break and a story he heard about his sister’s second grade teacher. That man is a natural born storyteller (so, so many stories) and he happens to be really good at it. So you should invite us to your party. Please. Because you know who he has to talk to now? Me. Just me. And oh my god sometimes the talking just drives me crazy (I feel I should declare here that we both DO love each other very much, we just sometimes have some opposite tendencies. But you know what? We both agree that there is no way we would even attempt living this crazy life with anybody else.).
For the past six months or so we’ve been house sitting in places where we are two of a few, if not the only, gringos around. We are living in places where little to no English is spoken and so the pool of people we can have meaningful conversations with is limited to, well, to each other. I know what you’re thinking – learn the language you morons and you’ll be able to make friends and talk to a lot more people. And we are. Estudio español todos los días. And I’ve met some really wonderful people and have had multiple, meaningful conversations in Spanish (at least I think so, the other participants might beg to differ). But we are many Spanish lessons and light years away from being able to have the kind of nuanced conversations that come from familiarity, a certain comfort level and understanding of slang that we have both been craving recently and not just with each other. Yes, I said both. I may not talk a lot, but I’m not mute. Skype, texting, phone calls, instant messaging are all great tools (and please everyone, keep using them!) but they don’t replace the get-togethers where I can joke and tease with my friends, or gossip over a glass (or three) of wine or just catch up on what’s going on in everyone’s life.
In addition to the language barrier, we also have the added dimension of moving constantly. We lived in Playa del Carmen for about a year and during that time developed a nice group of friends and started to become a part of the community. But making the decision to move on to house sitting full-time changed that. Friendships aren’t easy (especially for someone who has to think about how to become a friend) and they take time to nurture and develop. And time in a particular city is something we don’t have. Two months here, three months there, seven months somewhere else. Right now it seems like friends and friendly conversation has been our biggest sacrifice. This part of the nomadic lifestyle that we chose didn’t really come as a surprise. We had lots of really honest conversations about this situation before we decided to do this. “Just me and you. That’s it. Are you okay with that? Am I okay with that?” And obviously we ultimately decided we were. But turning the abstract into reality is hard and we’ve been trying to decide recently if this malaise we were both feeling was us being homesick.
But after thinking about it (Me. A lot) and talking about it (Jason. A lot) we decided we weren’t homesick. We were peoplesick. Okay, that doesn’t sound quite right because we are not sick of people, but rather the opposite. Maybe the right word is lonely? What we are craving isn’t necessarily a different place, just the people that might be in that place. If we could, we’d transport all of friends, family, casual acquaintances here so that we could show off the incredible people and places that we get to experience and then sit around and laugh and talk and tease each other mercilessly. If nothing else, someone besides me could listen to Jason as he talks about that one time he made a bone-crushing, game-saving tackle in a junior high school football game (Jason wants me to point out here that those were not his words but a quote from the local paper. And I’ll point out here that he quotes that paper whenever he can).
I hope this doesn’t come off as whiny or complaining. It’s not meant to be. We love our lives (god do we love our lives) and simply can’t imagine doing anything else. But the reality is that moving around every few months isn’t always easy. I think it’s just a part of long-term travel that people don’t think about but is a very real part of the experience. We know that some of the places we have lined up for future house sits come with a community of people that we already know and/or the opportunity to get to know and we are excited about that. In between we are trying hard to understand and appreciate the places where we are and we also know this peoplesickness will pass. But now? Now I gotta go because I think Jason wants to explain to me about the grilling technique he’s going to use for dinner or an issue with a website he’s working on or maybe his latest video game conquest. Or more likely, all of the above.