The Velvet Rut
Some places swallow you in, and never let go
Some cities and places make life exceedingly easy to live. Some cities in America, such as Austin, Texas, was infamous for its easygoing lifestyle, and I think that perhaps Kraków has this similar quality as well. The city, supplied with dozens of well stocked bars and well paying but dead end jobs, plays up the stereotypical city of being one where its residents, whether lifelong or fresh off the plane find life to be comfortable if not numbingly comfortable. It’s also a city where living is cheap and it rarely makes the news because nothing overly major ever happens here. Off the radar, beautiful, relatively inexpensive (although it was far cheaper before the war), and well employed, it looks like the perfect place to be. But perhaps these factors are the ones that can also make you feel like a canary trapped in a golden cage. This is also the primary issue that I’m feeling about living here.
Here in Kraków, I’ve blissfully been in a two year long Velvet Rut, a situation in which a city or place is exceedingly comfortable, easy to live in, but deprived of anything more than it already is. The comfort is beautiful but also grinding. Especially for an anxious person such as myself that always needs to be in motion, always needs to be doing something. Sure there is much to do, from my photo and writing work, to job hunting, to grudgingly finishing my thesis, but the growth upwards and outwards seems like a futile endeavor, like a rocket with no fuel. Being in this rut has of course made me think more and more of the dreaded “What’s next?” question. I perhaps have too much pride to “admit defeat” and move back to the US so soon after graduating. Since I’m also in the bizarre scenario where I qualify for citizenship, I have a few tough decisions to make in the coming months. A short trip for a wedding in Detroit in October will hopefully further snap me out of the mental and geographic rut that I find myself in. I believe that my ultimate fear is that Kraków is not the place for me to grow or mature as I’d like too.
A friend of mine told me the other week over cheap cocktails that perhaps this time in Kraków will be a funny blip in our lives, a time to look back on as a sort of nice, fun and exciting experience that we lived in out twenties and simply that. I hope for the opposite of that frankly, and I believe that it is already. From being established here, having jobs, friends from near and far, and not to mention the extensive travel around Poland and across its borders. Certain experiences in the last two years, such as my month in Bosnia or the fast and intense trip to Lviv will forever to branded into my mind. But perhaps it is the fear itself of being in a rut that creates the rut for you. The fear of there being nothing more and no hope to go further, without realizing that everything you could ever want is right in front of your. The hedonistic part of your mind speaks when it speaks of the Velvet Rut.
In an attempt to resolve this issue, I’ve decided against ultimatums, but rather admitting the fact that hard choices will need to be made very soon. My time in Kraków is coming to a slow end and I can feel it in the air. All of the jobs I want are outside of Poland and mostly back in the United States, Germany, or elsewhere. At some point that little prick will occur in my mind and I’ll feel it as calling out to me as the time and the moment to leave. I guess it’s just preparing for when you’ll feel that little pinch in your mind.