Wake Up Where You Are
There’s a moment in the morning when I’m beginning to come into consciousness but my eyes are still closed. Lately, in that moment, I’m not exactly sure where I am in the world, which is both weird and wonderful.
Today, I was grateful to wake up in a big, comfortable bed in the London suburb of Muswell Hill. My friend Lucy, whom I’ve known since college, has trusted me with her family’s lovely home while they’re away on vacation. The kitchen is big and bright and there’s a canopy of trees in the back garden.
I can breathe here.
It’s week two of month three of Remote Year, and this housesitting opportunity is allowing me to take a short hiatus from the program. The timing couldn’t be better, as I’m not a big fan of the setup this month. The Remotes are all living and working in a new communal space called The Collective. It’s a great idea in theory, but I was feeling a bit constricted there. I like my own space, and while each person has a room with a door at the Collective, it’s too small for me to comfortably “live” in. There are plenty of common spaces, but occupying them means I have to be willing to be around people when I really just want to put my head down and work in solitude.
It’s a good time to remember what I value and to take stock in the Remote Year experience. For me, the question isn’t whether Remote Year is delivering on their promises, but whether I’m taking advantage of enough of what they offer for it to be worthwhile.
I absolutely love that Remote Year deals with all of the travel logistics. On travel day, my only real responsibility is to have my bags packed. They pick me up, take me to the airport (or bus), and drop me at my new accommodations on the other side. They also arrange my SIM card and public transport passes, so I can hit the ground running with much less stress than I would if I were going it alone.
On the downside, I’m giving up some of my freedom of choice. I might not get to travel the way I’d prefer (I’m looking at you, 13-hour bus ride), and I’m trusting Remote Year to choose my apartment/living situation for me. Also, I’d typically choose to live alone, and the RY apartments are mostly shared with one or more people (So far, I’ve won the housemate lottery each month so I can’t really complain.)
RY also organizes a ton of events like day trips to local sights, networking events and the like. This would be a plus for lots of people, but I generally don’t attend the organized events, so that one goes into the column of things they’re offering that I’m not that into.
The X factor is of course, the people. Without Remote Year, I wouldn’t have met any of the 70+ others in our group. Many of them are brilliant, talented and inspiring. It’s nice to bump into friendly faces around town and to know I can grab a meal or coffee with any of them, too. I think traveling alone would be, well, lonely.
I can’t say for sure that all of this adds up to the right amount of value for me. I guess I’ll do the math when I’m back in my tiny dorm room.
But since I don’t have to make any major decisions today, I can simply sit at the island in my spacious London kitchen, sip a strong cup of coffee and breathe a bit.