Tuesday, November 24, 2009

last visits

"we own time, but time also owns us."
i will miss the poetry on the streets of oslo.

sometimes when you leave a place, you know it's your last visit, at least for the foreseeable future. when i left oslo a week or so ago, it was with a light heart for that fact. i'd enjoyed the city for nearly two years, but commuting via plane will wear you down. especially if you don't get what you need from those around you when you're there - intellectual stimulation, exciting tasks, being included, being consulted on areas of your expertise, drawing on your knowledge and network, positivity towards your ideas (for which they claimed to hire you), managerial support, belief that you are capable of your job despite your gender, i could go on, but i think you get the idea. so leaving oslo, i felt happy that it would be the last time i would be there, at least for the foreseeable future. sometimes life is like that.

but other places, you don't realize that you won't be back anytime soon. like the philippines. i've been there 16 times since december 2004. so it feels really strange that i didn't go there at all in 2009. and i find myself really longing for it. it feels like something has been missing in this year (singapore was NOT close enough and is definitely NOT the same) because i haven't been there. it makes me wonder whether i enjoyed it enough when i was there last november. did i realize that it might be the only time i ever buy a fresh coconut from a young boy who paddled up on his coconut-laden surfboard? did i fully appreciate the uniqueness of that experience at the moment i had it?

and although i returned to manila many times after my visit there in september 2005 with husband and sabin, did i appreciate how great it was to be there together with them? and did i realize it might not happen again? i don't think so. tho' i loved the experience, i didn't place anything extra in it, thinking it might be a once-in-a-lifetime thing. i took for granted that we'd go again. and probably we will, so maybe this angsty feeling is for nothing. and maybe i just have this overwhelming sense of nostalgia  because i keep thinking of that house we looked at on sunday and how sadly frozen in time was.

i know one place that i didn't appreciate enough because i definitely didn't think it would be my last visit and that's Cape Town. of course, there's still a chance that i will go back there at some point, but when i was last there, i didn't realize it would be later rather than sooner.  i didn't realize how very long it would be before i was lounging at moyo at the spiers winery, chatting away on the phone and enjoying a fabulous glass of wine. sigh.

i worry a little bit that the world is changing so much with all of this talk of climate change and that long haul flights (except perhaps to the US), are largely behind me. and i'm changing too. i no longer want to have a job where i travel 150-200 days a year, where i'm away from my home and my family. i want something different from life now. i had great experiences, but maybe now they are just memories. memories of times i wonder if i appreciated enough.

of course, there are places that you hope you don't visit again, despite how colorful and amazing certain aspects of them were. like chennai. honestly, it's quite possibly the most uncharming place on the planet and if i never go back there, i'll be quite ok with that. phuket is another one of those for me. they can keep phuket. tho' i had a fantastic afternoon there, playing in the waves that had so cruelly killed so many less than a year before. it's one of those memories where i was conscious at the time that it was a wholly unique experience that could never be duplicated.

when we left singapore this past summer, husband was quite clear-eyed about it not bothering him at all if he never went back. i feel a bit that way too, since singapore is disneyland with nationhood. tho' if remain in shipping (which i wouldn't rule out), i will likely go there again. but i guess the whole point of these musings is that we never really know what the future holds and where it will take us.


Unknown said...

I really like this post! When I was in South America, and we didn't have time to see everything we wanted, we'd always say we'd go there "next time", but would there be a next time? And if so, when? We may be visiting a completely different place if we leave it, say, ten years. Maybe we never really go back to the same place, because places change and we do too, and our experiences of a place is always different every time we visit.

Lisa-Marie said...

This is entirely true. I think the thing in life is to(where possible) make decisions for the happiness of yourself and the people you are responsible to. If you know you've done that, then at least you know whereer life takes you, you'll hae done the right thing.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful picture sand sentiments...
I am in total awe how you could commute by plane (every day??). I have a very strong fear of flying, so to me this would be unthinkable.;)

A thorough contemplation of life said...

Although, if we knew where life took us, it'd be rather dull!
Fab pictures; can't wait to get travelling myself!


I loved this post - thank you !

spudballoo said...

Gosh, Sabin is SO little in that photo! I feel the same way about Chicago, I pretty much lived there for about 5 years. I totally took it for granted in the end. My last trip was April 05, I didn't realise I was going to be my last trip for a while but pregnancy complications set in and I couldn't fly for the rest of the pregnancy. Then I didn't realise I'd have a complicated birth, not be well enough to work, have another baby blahhhhh and then be made redundant anyway!

So that last trip was THE last trip in the end. And I miss it so much, I kind of long for it. But if I went back it wouldn't be the same because I'd just be a visitor, rather than it being my second home. And my friends have moved on, some literally, others have married, had children etc. I can't recapture 'that' time because it's gone now.

Lovely post x

Gwen said...

Your last sentence was exactly what I was thinking: there's still so much world to see (even though you're way ahead of most of us). Who knows what places in your future will speak to you like the ones in your past.

Personally, I'm voting for Zurich. :)

Maria-Thérèse ~ www.afiori.com said...

Sorry to hear your job was so unfulfilling :-( Good thing you left!

If you don't mind my asking, how come you've been to the Philippines so many times? (Since it's such an unusual place to travel to for fun from the Nordic countries)

Char said...

i know this feeling in a very semi-tiny-abbreviated way. i am grateful that i got to travel to seattle, portland and beautiful cities of the us...but, it is very hard to be away. enjoy your new adventure.

Anonymous said...

such touching words...thank you for sharing. have a wonderful day!

Liz Fulcher, The Fragrant Muse said...

Well, you know how I feel about your changing jobs so I won't go on about that. I will, however, go on and on and on and on about your bubbles! The new header is amazing. You are, indeed, a trendsetter!

Unknown said...

This morning I was just thinking about all the traveling I used to do all around the world...and now I've barely been out of the state in the past four years because of finances. I love traveling...so, so much. I really, really miss it. I took it for granted while I was able. I can't wait to be rich again.

Bee said...


This panaromic view made me realize how many places there are to visit/how many things to do . . . sometimes there just isn't time for re-visitation.

Your Phillipine photos reminded me of Trinidad. How it was once HOME -- and yet I may never go there again.

christina said...

such beautiful photos. look at your baby on that pic, so little. : )

Katea said...

This is really inspiring. You're right, we don't know what the future holds or where it will take us, and right now we maybe can't even envision the "there" that is right there ahead. The path of our travels - whether around our neighborhoods or our planet - all lead us, every single one, into our own futures. It's coming a little bit every minute, whether we worry or not, so why worry? Just be.