plans, part 2

So I was speaking to someone a week-ish ago who asked me about my writing.

“What would you like to do with your writing? Are you trying to write a book, or…?”

But like. I don’t have this anymore.

I spent all of last year, right up until the very last minute, trying to make these exact plans. And all of my goals kept morphing and changing, bending to the will of the pandemic. And then, pretty much as soon as I landed in Georgia, I just gave it all up. 

I have no goals.

That’s not entirely true: I have some goals, though they’re not lofty enough to truly put them in this category. My goals now are like “eat every day” and “go visit the United States;” the latter of which is truly terrifying. But maybe that’s a story for another day.

But the thing is: I’m just not so naive to believe that we yet have the tools to know how to behave in a post-pandemic world. And for someone like me who engages with the world and not just my home country, I recognize that we could be facing another couple years where, at the very least, the pandemic is still affecting people’s lives in some way.

Out here, we all talk about how difficult it is to make plans. We generally plan about a month ahead at the most, and past that, things in the future can seem filmy and vague. Rules change. Countries close. Put simply: shit happens, and a lot of shit has happened in the past couple of years.

I have some vague idea of “finishing” the Balkans: meaning going to all the places I have been meaning to go since I first got here last January. There’s a festival I’d like to attend in January in North Macedonia, but who know’s if I’ll actually make it there. And I’m just waiting for Azerbaijan to open their land borders with Georgia, so I can take a train ride that I’ve wanted to take for years.

And I’d finally like to see my West Virginia of Europe: Austria. And yeah, I guess Lichtenstein, too. 

And then what?

I have no idea, because honestly, I’m having trouble just planning my birthday trip this year that’s less than a month away. 

See, Rajiv and I have been trying to take this trip together for fucking ages, since last November in Cairo. And in the time in between, visa policies have changed. Entry requirements have changed. Shit, I’ve had the vaccine since then, and I’m even planning to get my booster shot in November.

And now we’re actually going to do it. Except, of course, our plans are completely different than they used to be. 

They are even more exciting. 

Like, bucket list exciting.

And I’ve already told a lot of people about my plans, but we haven’t booked our flights yet so it doesn’t yet seem real. And maybe this will be one of those trips where y’all find out where I’m going when I’ve already arrived.

It just feels right to do it that way.

And you never know – maybe I’ll manage to turn my birthday trip into words this year.

Last year I just couldn’t, I was just trying to figure out Cairo; it was basically the first place I’d been besides Istanbul since I escaped South Africa, and I went a little bit silent online. Especially here.

And I mean, I was turning 40. I know I was expected to have some sort of grand, revelatory story to tell, but it was so much more internal than that. 

But who knows. Maybe that’s one of my goals for this year.


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