Last week I took a 10-day vacation back “home,” visiting friends and family in the Blue Ridge Mountains and attending a dear friend’s fabulous wedding in New York City. It was amazing, glorious, and a much-needed uplift for my spirits. Yet as I soared across the ocean and over the Andes Mountains, and as the plane descended into the madness of Bogota, I realized I was also headed “home.” I was heading to a city where I had lived for the past six months, a city where I will live for another year and a half. I was heading home to a car that was parked at the airport, to an apartment that was full of my things, to a bed made up with my sheets and back to a desk and a computer in a cubicle with my name on it. But Bogota most certainly does not feel like home.
I think I’ve avoided writing about my new job and about my new city and about my new life because I am afraid of what I will say. I love Colombia and I love exploring new parts of South America. But my weekend adventures are just that- fleeting days here and there, trips measured out to maximize my two days off in a row, glimpses of other cities, brief moments of sunshine so I can forget about the 9-5 grind. The vast majority of my time here is spent sitting in front of a computer, lined up in a row of other computers, trapped in a box and doing work that at best is tedious and at worst is painfully monotonous. There, I said it.
I have known for a long time that I don’t fit very well into boxes, and trying to squeeze myself inside of a box day after day is exhausting. I fill my time outside of work with the least boxy things I can think of- three-hour runs, two-hour yoga classes, three-day weekends at surf camps, wild nights out on the town with crazy new friends, big dinner parties at my fabulous apartment, long bike rides where I hold both my arms open to the sky and close my eyes for as long as I dare. But nothing eases the dread that takes over my brain every Sunday night when I realize I have to cram myself back inside a box by 8am the next morning.
I may sound like a hopeless romantic, but mixed into the jumble of emotions inside of me sits a very pragmatic bone in my body. I tell myself every day that this job is a great career builder, that I will be able to get into Oxford after this, that I am learning and growing professionally in ways I can’t even fathom or imagine yet, and that I just need to sit tight and do the work. My friends tell me it “will get better,” and maybe they are right, but that is what people told me when I struggled to adjust at my first office job, and I haven’t found the adjustment any easier two years later.
Bogota is home, I have forks in a drawer and plates on the shelf, and I sit in a cubicle every day. These are the hard truths I’ve been dealing with lately, and now that I’ve gotten them off my chest maybe I can start to write about my travels again.