Stability comes with it the opportunity to set up a life, to make a home someplace, to buy decent quality possessions. Yet, hear I am on the plane, my old surf t-shirt, $20 dress shoes with holes in the soles, and speaking of holes, you don’t want to know about my current sock and underwear repertoire.
I am now a “young professional,” but honestly, I don’t really want to play the part. I am a backpack person, not interested in a quality briefcase or a good-looking shoulder bag. I love my beat-up possessions. I play the part when I need to, in my dress shirts that either my mom bought me some point in the last seven years or I purchased at the San Francisco Good Will. My Kindle looks like it’s been dropped off a few cliffs (which is not entirely untrue) and I don’t really have a working phone right now. The thing is, I’m pretty content with my collection of weathered wares. I find I am not interested in getting attached to nice things, because I can only carry so much on the road. And I live in a Liberia where theft and intense mold are the norm. If I’m lucky, I can scrub the mold off my favorite pair of shoes or buy back my stolen items on the black market.
I don’t think I have had a stability like this since the middle years of high school, when I was a self-conscious, homebody of a kid who was scared of a lot of things in this world, a lack of stability being my biggest fear. I would look ahead to an upcoming family trip or school event with a suffocating anxiety – scared of the unknown, grasping for the predictability of a routine.
I am employed with a job beyond my wildest dreams. I may not know where I will physically be in the world at any given point, but otherwise, things are more stable than they have been in a really, really long time.
But can I call it stability when I fly halfway around the world every few weeks? When I book one-way plane tickets and make plans a few days in advance, never knowing exactly how long I will need to be in a place before packing my bag and heading back to an airport with my increasingly battered Canadian passport? Turn to the Liberian visa page, and there sit stamps upon stamps recording my entering and exiting of my West African home, a country in which a year ago I knew incredibly little about. Now it is my rock, my routine I come back too – it is the only place in this world where I have neighbors that know my name.
I may have a hole in my right sock, and a phone that just last week went swimming in a swamp, but hey, I don’t think I will be changing anytime soon, because for me, this is stability.