My ticket to the US has me arriving at Newark Airport on October 17.
But I don’t feel ready to go home yet. I haven’t written the book yet but I’ve been collecting a lot of good stories and experiences. I haven’t figured out how to shoehorn today’s experiences into a book about traveling from Cape to Cairo in 2001, but that’s a detail that I will get ironed out in rewrites (and more rewrites). I tend to think living in a place provides better story fodder than whisking around the continent.
I have been considering extending my stay. I was wondering… what is it like in Mozambique? Malawi? Lesotho? Kruger National Park? I wouldn’t mind renting a place in Nairobi (my original plan before H.M. got the job in Uganda).
Unfortunately, these plans have costs.
1) $100 to change my ticket from Africa to London (it’s a frequent flyer ticket).
2) $200 to change my ticket from London to Newark (this is a normal ticket, paid for in bump vouchers).
3) A few hundred dollars in traveler’s insurance, which would need to be extended.
4) The costs of paying for my Jersey City apartment. I’ve had a tenant who covered costs, but he moves out tomorrow.
So if I were to stay in Africa, I would need to somehow get a tenant that I trust into my apartment. If the Jersey City costs are covered, that helps a lot as it costs much less to live or travel in Africa than to live in Jersey City, where I pay mortgage, taxes, maintenance, phone, utilities, health insurance, blah blah blah.
I have been toying with the idea of going back on the road versus renting in Nairobi or Cape Town. Both have their appeal. And it took me four years to get back to Africa, so I’m unlikely to be back any time soon.
But yesterday a new wrinkle presented itself.
A job offer. One that starts in mid-October. Editing children’s books at a company I worked for previously. Easy commute, mediocre pay, and a job that isn’t difficult. It’s a freelance three-month assignment.
Now the decision-making must begin in agony. Life is not about paying bills, but one must occasionally be realistic.
And perhaps it is easier to write a book with a structured 9-5 job. Life as a freelancer means constant hustling for work and prioritizing the immediate deadline emergencies. 9-5 means having evenings and weekends free.
Still… I don’t want to be working just to pay for my apartment, and I don’t want to turn 40 in April while treading water alone, just getting by for the sake of getting by. It would be nice to have a finished manuscript turned in and be working toward a goal or two instead of waffling around my place and wondering what to do next.
So that’s the question. What would you do? Bear in mind that I’m not rich but I’ve always managed to squeak by somehow.