I once dated a tall, tanned, and chiseled Australian. Our affair, was indeed an affair: short-lived and insanely passionate. He had an art with enticing, a knack for titillating, and an undeniable way of melting me in the palm of his hand. I didn’t expect more out of what we shared than what we did, but when we played show-and-tell, it certainly wasn’t kindergarten appropriate.
Maybe it was his accent or his blasé attitude toward most everything or his talent of reaching the depth of my heart and other parts in the same stride – but from the second we laid eyes on each other, the light was lit. He was my Foreigner and I was his Southerner, no other title, no other commitment, and no other anything required or effective to describe us. While I thoroughly enjoyed being romanced and teased in the short time we indulged in the company of one another, I was also constantly fretting.
The thing about dating a sexy guy from down under who enjoys going down under is that they don’t really have a concept of time. And though I know it isn’t accurate, I would almost attest to the fact that they don’t understand how to use a phone either. In person, they will fill up the room and then some, but when they’re out of sight, they might as well be totally out of mind, or out of your own mind you will go worrying. Sure, you will mostly likely see them again, but they know they’re lying when they promise to follow-up, and if you expect a long, drawn-out texting conversation during the workday, you’d be as poorly mistaken as I was. Things ultimately fizzled with the Australian because I couldn’t let go of myself enough to appreciate the joint affinity for what it was then.
Years later and a few less entrancing foreigners later, I discovered a theme that the States – or perhaps, just me – doesn’t seem to adapt to. In European countries and obviously with the Aussies, plans aren’t meant to be so concrete. This is an over generalization of several populations, but as a sweeping statement that could be utterly inaccurate (excuse me if that’s the case), foreigners aren’t as much concerned with what they want forever more, but what they want right now. They see life as more in the moment than a year or so from now, or even a week, if you’re the Australian.
I haven’t traveled a significant amount and most of what I’ve learned about culture has been from conversations with tourists in New York, through anthropology and sociology classes in college, and from being an avid reader of current events, as well as history. I don’t observe the ways of life abroad – though I’d love to – and my language skills are limited to English and almost-conversational Italian. But I will say from people I’ve met, what I’ve read, and what I assume – Americans don’t live as beautifully as many in other parts of the world.
And lately, for better or for worse, I’ve been living a little less American.
I’ve been unconcerned with the big picture and more focused on making decisions day-to-day, significant or insignificant, affecting my life greatly or not at all. I’ve liberated myself enough to enjoy carbohydrates to the extreme without feeling too guilty and I’ve accepted last-minute invitations to drink or dine, or to run or to nap. I’ve entertained online and in-the-store decorating dreams of my soon-to-be new apartment, without worrying about price or budget, what’s practical or what’s not. I’ve spent lengthy amounts of time lounging, often alone naked in my own skin, not caring much about what I should be doing, but about what I wanted to do. And not what I want to do that will get me what I want tomorrow, but what I want…now.
And what I want in the moment transforms with the moment. I’ve changed my mind endlessly, I’ve noticed a dramatic shift in my tastes and my preferences in just the last six months, and I’ve adapted to the New York life more so since I started this blog than before I ever frequented WordPress daily. I haven’t planned out my entire weekend in fear that if I didn’t, I would be stranded home, by myself, feeling unsocial and unloved because really, being in the quiet company of myself doesn’t seem like a punishment as much as it does a prize. While I can’t go completely Australian by waking up at noon to lounge aimlessly as my Aussie once described his life prior to the States, other than what work requires me to do after hours, my after hours have been open. To taking a jog, meeting with a new or old friend, or discovering the art of being free from a penciled schedule.
These choices and this shift in my maturity have made me a little less committed. Not to my career, to this blog, to my friends, or to Mr. Possibility, but to myself. The only thing I’m really committed to is the me I am, now. I still put my needs before much anything else, as I should as a 20-something, but I’ve learned how to be less rigid in my own ways. We know people get stuck in their routines and mindsets, and if I can help it, I’d like to be open to change and growth for as long as allowed, if not forever.
But forever is a funny word, isn’t it?
Once we say we’ll do something, love somebody, live somewhere, or be someone forever – you’re attached to whatever and whoever that may be. Or maybe not so much in America, where everything seems to be reversible, excused, or divorce-able. But, overseas in nations where they may live dreamily and think more about wanting in an instant than wanting for a lifetime – once they decide to devote a lifetime, it’s taken seriously.
Because while they were busy not taking themselves or the pressing matters of 10 years from now too seriously, they were learning to listen. To the world and its people, to what makes them happy and satisfied, and what’s easy to move away from. Maybe that’s the trick the Australian was trying to teach me and I never could quite understand until now:
Listen to what you want, don’t be committed to being someone or something forever, and don’t worry about the next time you’ll get what you desire or if you will get it at all, and learn to celebrate your life, instead of wasting it. After all, it is the little things or in the Australian’s case, the not-so-little things, that really do serve their purpose right then, right at the right moment, and though you yearn for more, you’re happy just to of experienced it at all.