Through a series of decisions entirely my own, I seem to have recently entered into a somewhat permanent state of settling in. Perhaps not so recently, actually, perhaps since September 8th 2010, when I first touched down in Germany and began the process of settling in, in earnest, and crafting my ever-evolving response to ‘how are you settling in?’ And once I started settling in, I never stopped. After Münster, sticks were upped and I wound up in Weiden and settled in there, or rather, became increasingly anxious about Australia while putting down far sturdier roots than I gave myself and Weiden’s soil credit for. And in an effort to assuage that homesickness, I pulled those roots up again and landed back in Sydney and now when everyone asks me The Question ‘how are you settling back in’ I make this weird noise because I’m not really settling in. And that’s not because I don’t want to, it’s more because I can’t. I can’t settle in.
Being here only temporarily puts paid to the ‘settling back in’ thing – I can only settle so far as time will allow – and instead nods more to the ‘being in flux’ thing, another state I seem to have slipped into with a view to remain in long term. I’m here, but I’m looking over there. Just like when I was there, I looked over here. And I’m thinking about What’s Next and when I’ll get there and what that will look like. This state of flux comes about because I’m not settling in here, or anywhere. And I won’t for a few more years due to circumstances quite beyond my control (as opposed to the circumstances within my control that got me into this state of being to begin with. I started the ball rolling, but I didn’t design the course.) So ‘settling in’ and ‘flux’ are brothers, mates, two sides of the same coin we just keep on flipping. Although I seem to be spending a lot of time trying to ‘settle in’, perhaps people would be better off asking, ‘how’s the flux going?’ as bizarre and awkward as that sounds, because then at least I could give a more accurate response.
Anyway. I chose this. I like it. There is something within me that quite enjoys the knowledge that something else is not far away, that feels a sense of security in being unsecured, unattached. In flux. It will probably wear thin, as I get older, as my priorities change, as things happen and grow and gain weight. But for now, I don’t mind constantly settling in somewhere, it keeps things interesting, it keeps things big and rich and complex.
But off the back of the past little while and with the present as it is and the future lottle while lying in wait – and with settling in/fluxing here, quite frankly, not going as smoothly as it could – I feel it’s time to actually get a grip on what settling in actually is. What it entails. Can someone tell me? Is it things? Books, coffee cups, weather appropriate shoes? Furniture? A bed, a wardrobe, a couch? A space to cram these things into? Is it making sure the paperwork is in order – the visa, the insurance, the bank account, the rental contract, the drivers licence? Is it a job? Coffee dates, a local pub? Or is it a state of mind? Is it a sense of understanding of your surroundings, a feeling of competence within them? And does this understanding, this feeling stem from all of the things and papers and a good collection of coffee mugs?
And if that’s settling in, what’s being in flux? Being a little astronaut on earth, gravity-less and bouncing around rooms full of things, waiting until the next door opens and you get sucked into the room on the other side, full of more things to bounce between?
Do you know, for all of my settling in, for all my being in flux, I couldn’t quite tell you.