The morning of July 21st started out as a fairly normal Tuesday morning in England. The sun rose, the birds sang, the postman delivered the post. Then I woke up, and decided I would live the next two years of my life in Ecuador.
Maybe ‘decided’ isn’t the right word. I had been deciding for days, writing mind-shatteringly convoluted pro-con lists, rationalising that my choice in the end would make no significant difference to my long-term achievement in life, trying to imagine myself happy in London, trying to imagine myself happy in Guayaquil, trying to imagine myself waking up in a year’s time, knowing I’d made the right decision. I just didn’t know what that decision would be.
And then I ate my lunch on Monday 20th July, and thought about how sad it was that I couldn’t even get through a plate of chicken and chips without posing hypothetical questions about the meaning of success and the importance of self-fulfilment, and I decided not to decide anymore. I just decided to do nothing for a while.
So I went to bed, and I woke up, and it was Tuesday, and I suddenly knew I was going to Ecuador. I’m not sure when it was decided, but I knew in that moment that it didn’t matter how much longer I wanted to think about it. It just was. I was going to Ecuador again, and it was bloody brilliant.
So I wrote to my future boss and accepted his job offer, and I put some waffles in the toaster, and I got some quotes from international removals companies and realised I couldn’t afford to ship anything and that once again I would be packing my entire life into a suitcase to move to a new city, and I felt the thrill of adventure rush through me like a sudden gust of wind that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up and your skin prick with goosebumps.
Two days later I broke up with my boyfriend of four years and nine months and I watched him leave the house and walk away and turn the corner until I couldn’t see him anymore and I cried so hard that I had to sit down because I couldn’t breathe properly, and I was silent in the certainty that I was doing the right thing.
On Wednesday 29th July I sat down with a spreadsheet and worked out that on my new salary I’d just about have $25 a month left over for my travel budget, which would mean internal trips only for the next two years. No more exploring new countries for this serial traveller. So I opened up my laptop and deleted the folder marked “Travel Goals & Inspiration” and felt incredibly free and open to the vast possibility of life.
The next afternoon I found myself sitting on the floor of my bedroom surrounded by black bin bags. As I methodically recycled, donated and binned seventy-five percent of my worldly possessions, I couldn’t help but feel perfectly at peace with myself for the first time in a very long time.
On Sunday 2nd August I sent an email resigning from my prestigious, well paid, highly sought after, full-to-the-brim-with-benefits graduate job that I had worked solidly for three months to get. A day later, when the HR representative called to ask me why I’d quit, I told her that I’d been offered a job more in line with my long-term career goals, and that I was taking a 75% paycut for this new job and that it didn’t even come with proper health insurance. And as much as I tried to hold it back, a grin cracked over my face as I told her how sorry I was to have to turn the other opportunity down.
Today I watched the last of the people I went to high school with graduate from her medical degree and I thought about all the future doctors, lawyers and bankers I have known and I thought about coming back to England in two years’ time without savings or a car or a house or a masters degree or a business or a family or any of the signs of success that you’re supposed to have, that you’re supposed to want to have, and I felt like all the dots had finally been joined up.
Everything is going wrong, and it’s bloody brilliant.