Fernweh again.

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

I had the very good fortune to spend the last week and a half in sunny St. Augustine, Florida (and I have the pictures to prove it). There were no hurricanes this time around - not for us, anyway. We caught the very edge of Rita, which churned up the water and gave us some downpours on our last two days there, but other than that, it was sun, sand, surf and shrimp the whole way through.

For ten days I woke up to the sound of the breeze in the palm trees and the waves pounding the beach (Okay, and the air conditioner. And some fans. It was hot.). My first jet-lagged morning back in Brighton, I was awakened at dawn by the sound of carousers shouting on the street, followed (after another brief, fitful bit of sleep) by the doorbell, a shrieking car alarm, and the window washer banging my window shut from the outside. Welcome home!

So I’ve been in a bit of a grouchy, ill-tempered, "this city and everyone in it sucks" kind of mood. It’s a mood which, more often than not, I find myself in whenever I get back from a nice trip. After a lot of contemplation, I think I’ve come to realize that it’s not so much that I dislike Brighton (though the glamour has worn off after five years here, I still think it’s a fine place to live) as it is that when I travel somewhere, I travel there with my whole heart. Whenever I spend time someplace I really like, I can’t help but imagine what it would be like to live there. And by the end of the trip, I think I start to believe that I actually should live there, or that I really do live there. So when I come back to where I actually live, everything feels wrong.

There’s also the obvious issue of familiarity breeding contempt and the grass always being greener everywhere else. When you spend time somewhere nice but unfamiliar, everything seems interesting and exciting and fun. So many places to discover, so much to do! Life is simpler and happier because you’re on vacation, so your only responsibility is to explore all these new things and indulge yourself in food, sleep and relaxation. I find it hard to remember sometimes that, as great as St. Augustine (or Sitka or Seattle or the Scottish Highlands) may be, if I lived there I would still have to work, clean the bathroom, be hassled by ringing phones and doorbells, put up with noisy neighbors (well, maybe not so much in the Highlands…) and deal with all of the other real-life issues that, on some level, are exactly the same no matter where on earth you live.

I am finding it hard at the moment to make the transition from hot and sunny to chilly and grey; from family to no family; from lazy, hedonistic, self-indulgent bliss to the still-incomplete tax return sitting on my desk. But if I’m honest, I’m not finding it hard because my life is difficult and stressful and Brighton is terrible and oppressive - I’m finding it hard because I am actually lazy, hedonistic and self-indulgent by nature and am therefore more suited to a state of permanent vacation than to the responsibilities of adulthood (and I have few enough of those as it is). Oh well. This feeling of discontent will soon pass, I’m sure. But I’ll be craving slow, sultry tropical nights for a while longer yet…


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