It's 5:30pm on a warm Amsterdam afternoon and I'd I'm wearing Birkenstocks, Topshop jeans, an ASOS shirt and a Zara coat. In my hand is my iPhone 6S and the contents of my bag are my camera, wallet, Nars lipstick and perfume. Earlier a young Dutch man had commented, 'so trendy, I like, very nice' in between puffs of his cigarette. In every way I am an established Western woman, the kind you'd see in a coffee shop reading 'A Clockwork Orange' through designer glasses. Except I'm not, at least not right now. I'm in a laundromat and the 12 euros I've just spent on washing and drying my well-travelled clothes will likely mean another supermarket salad for dinner. But show no dismay because this backpacking lifestyle, albeit foreign, is my ideal.
Could it be that the comforts of my previous living were not actually comforts at all? The distraction of things and lifestyle advancement is exactly that, a distraction. I look in the mirror and I do not see a wealthy person but someone who could appear more wealthy if they only had that job, those clothes and lived in that area. I know full well the fickle and fleeting nature of this thinking but it is addictive and this addiction is culturally ingrained. We live and breathe capitalism and the only way to cure ourselves of this dependence is to escape.
And so we do.
We who are rich, live as if we were poor. We jump from place to place living on far less than we could. And it appears cool and hipster and trendy, but those are the dependencies we are running away from.
I don't want my life to be a series of staged Instagram photos. I don't want to rely on being the object of someone else's envy for my own self-gratification. I am Thoreau in need of a Walden Pond. And I am running.
But I cannot run forever. Come February my account will run dry and the 16,000 km distance I have maintained will cease. I'll be back in my room, at work, at uni. I'll catch up with friends at Heart and Soul over an Acai Bowl and we'll complain about how hard it all is. You will set the table for our flat-lay Instagram photo and I'll wait until exactly 5:30PM to post it. I'll go to Law School events and think 'how nice, how swanky,' forgetting that months before I had needed so much more. It's distracting and addictive, but woe is our fate.
And it's all a bit of angst, don't you think. I'll wait like this until I wake up one day and become oblivious to it all. Like T.S Eliot's Prufrock, I will have my time.