Time to Go?

Guestpostravaganza continues for the time being (weigh in with your opinion here) with a really interesting and honest contribution from Abby Tegnelia on a side of travel nobody likes to consider:

Ever since I conned my parents into letting me jet off to Europe on a senior trip with a high school group I didn’t know (I was 12), I’ve been a bona fide traveler. But after many, many trips, studying abroad, backpacking, the whole thing, I slowly began to develop a brand-spanking new obsession: moving. It was no longer enough to see a place for a few weeks or even months; I wanted to live there. I jaunted from NYC to Austin to Las Vegas to LA, and then I knew it was time to branch out from the US. In August, I landed in Costa Rica, on an extended “vacation.” Eight months later, I love being an expat.

But I’ve just started to wonder: “How will I know when it’s time to go home?”

I am now settled into my Costa Rican pueblo, Coco, where I live in a tight-knit little barrio. I have no intention of moving anytime soon. Yet, I’ve recently started debating whether or not I should begin to think about moving “back.”

A few weeks ago, I started getting ready to fly back to NYC to be a bridesmaid for one of my dearest friends. Since I couldn’t attend her bridal shower in person, my best friend sent me the traditional “How well do you know the bride?” questionnaire that they’d be using at the party. Long story short, I didn’t know a single answer. Had I really been gone that long? I’d still been living in NYC when they met and was around quite a lot during their first year together; I’d even grilled him on his intentions like a father from the 50s. Yet, I know nothing about her life now.

It was a small catalyst that soon had my mind racing. Had it been too much of a sacrifice to travel the world in search for… what? Had I alienated myself from my friends, just to be left single and off the career track? I knew this was the old me thinking, not the new (emotionally steady, happy, centered) me. But you know what? The old me wasn’t exactly a dumbass.

What would my future be like if I stay in Coco? When is it time to go?

My biggest frustration is the dating scene, a common complaint for women expats. When you’re just passing through town, it’s easy to notice with a tourist’s eye the 70-year-old gringo with a teenaged local girl on the back of his scooter. But when you get to know everybody, and you know whose ex-husband that is on the scooter, it takes on a whole new meaning. Guys my own age tend to have a certain type of local draped on their arm. I’ve accepted all of this, but I’m wary of my feelings on the subject. I plan on leaving before I grow bitter, if that’s what’s going to happen.

There never really is the perfect time to decide to go. Even though I’m not really ready to leave, do I need to move on?

By the time this is posted, I’ll be in the US for two weddings on the opposite side of the country, two weeks apart. This means 14 days in Manhattan, the city I lived for the longest, where all my friends have stayed, where I love the sharpness of the people and how I can blend in no matter what I do or wear. When I go back, I’ll be nothing short of at peace with the lifestyle I’ve chosen, the experiences I’ve gained. But will I feel the same way if I go back in another five years, still single, in my late 30s, and doing who knows what to make money?

In NYC, I’ll be feeling it out to see if I think I really could make the move back, to using the subway (which I love) and wearing winter clothes (which I detest). I’m open to anything, even something falling from the sky to make me want to stay in Coco, but I do know that I’m listening to the signs and will move back if that’s what events tell me to do. If I stubbornly stay in Costa Rica longer than I need to, I risk the same malaise and unhappiness that kicked off my moving around to begin with. And how counterproductive would that be?

Am I an adrenaline junkie who wants to move around every few years or so and will never be happy settled down? Or if unhappiness rears its ugly head, is it simply because I’m not content settled down here.

Writing this down is the most discussion I’ve had on the matter. I’m actually not over-thinking this one. But knowing that my doubts are there, I’m open to anything, including moving on. Just waiting for the signs….

After more than ten years covering Hollywood for Us Weekly, In Touch, OK and Star magazines, Abby Tegnelia moved last August to Playas del Coco, Costa Rica. There, she runs a celebrity news agency out of her tiny casita, running reporters in LA and NYC for sales all over the world. But she has the most fun on her blog, http://thejungleprincess.com.

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32 thoughts on “Time to Go?”

  1. Wow, what a “real” post Abby. These are often some of the questions that I wrestle with when thinking about actually doing the RTW or expat thing long-term. Sounds like the journey is just beginning!

  2. Go, stay and be where you are happiest Abbs. Your friends are always with you as long as you keep us with you in your heart and thoughts and BBM! Just don’t forget to check in once in a while. Let us know you’re ok. The only reason I’d advise you to move back would be purely selfish. Keep doing what you’re doing for as long as finances/work allows. I’ve lived so many lives in 34 years, but the one thing I didn’t do a ton of was travel, granted that i moved A LOT, it was all within a few states. That’s my one regret in life. I’m planning on changing that though….hopefully starting with a visit to Coco to see you!

  3. I love this post. I’ve felt that I need to move somewhere new and never just felt a short visit would do. I feel this way because I don’t think I have much going for me at home right now. But then I second guess my self and think that even if I move somewhere new and then come back home again I’ll just feel the same empty feeling again. Can I really keep moving to new places? I’m waiting too for signs or just giving myself time to figure things out.
    .-= Joya´s last blog ..One Reason I Want to Go to New Orleans =-.

  4. “The old me wasn’t exactly a dumbass.” — nope, and I feel your conflict! Despite the excitement of traveling and now trying to build a business out of blogging, in the back of my mind I can’t help but all the money I haven’t been putting in my 401k.

    My Dad’s biggest fear about my past (and likely future) stints as an expat in Colombia is that I’ll fall in love, get married, have kids, and not be able to easily return to the USA (and not necessarily in that order!). It’s not something I’d want, but if I could afford Paris, I might not mind the possibility of events unfolding in that manner.

    This post reminds me of my friend Charlie, who has now been living in China for 6 years. He’s happy as a clam, and all along, has expressed no desire to return to the States in the near future. Of course he grew away from his friends at home, but that can happen even when you stay in the same place.
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..SteriPEN: Ulatraviolet Water Purification =-.

    1. That’s always my mom’s biggest fear as well- that i will fall in love and never come home. I honestly could see myself living abroad semi-permantly, except for the part about breaking my parent’s hearts…

      1. I’m in the same boat — I can seriously see myself living abroad at least half time and my parents are worried I’ll do the same thing.

        The US is great and all, but the world is a huge place with lots to see and experience!

  5. I think it is that you just haven’t found the right place yet, or maybe just not in the right time of life for you. I’ve read a few blogs from some well traveled people and after their extensive travels they have a place they call home, I’m sure you’ll get there and hopefully the change in scenery will reinvigorate your travel inspiration.
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..New Brew Tuesday: The Battle of the Modelos =-.

  6. Awesome post darling!!! I think it’s important that you give this a lot of thought and it’s always good to write your thoughts down first. I think you’ll just know when it’s time. You see the signs! Just keep yourself aware (I know easier said than done). Wishing you an amazing time in NYC!!!!!!!!!!!!
    .-= Andi´s last blog ..imgp2629 =-.

  7. Candice, I know what you mean about missing out!! I used to be like that. Wait, I’m still like that… Hello, TBEX…
    Josh, that’s funny. I am jealous sometimes of people who don’t have the travel itch. But since we do, off we go!
    Kristin, thank you!! So glad you understand — those are my exact questions!
    .-= Abby´s last blog ..Home again, home again =-.

  8. Excellent post, and strangely relevant to my own situation. Like Abby, I’ll also be uprooting myself from the NYC magazine industry to travel. And life is GOOD. Why do I feel so compelled to ditch it? I keep coming back to the idea that I’m merely putting it on hold, and I think that’s fair: You can ALWAYS come back, and I prefer that philosophy to “wishing that I had traveled.”
    .-= Josh | The Wander Project´s last blog ..TWP Guide: The World’s Iconic Beers =-.

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