On Traveler’s Unemployment

ON AUGUST 27, 2013, I will be legally unemployed for the first time since I turned 18, over six years ago, and earned my first steady paycheck. I say “steady” because discovery of some legal document tucked away in an Eglinton Avenue filing cabinet could hypothetically prove that my first-ever paycheck was in fact for Timothy’s Coffee, in the summer of 2005, for roughly $40, or the equivalent of one shift at minimum wage; a shift after which I did not return for a second, nor was I asked to.

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The string of retail jobs since then have been varied and necessary: two years at 13 different Black’s Photography shops across Canada, two years at Gap Inc. in Halifax, two months of telemarketing university alumni and asking them for donations of even more money than they’d already given us, because we needed more money, and still do, because we had none then and have none still and nobody wants to just give away money after working so hard to earn it in the first place.

I’ve never had money, really. Friends would tease me in university for being frugal (well, a half-lie: they called me cheap; I prefer “frugal”) and, as if desperately trying to prove them right, I ate an unhealthy amount of No Name-brand dark meat chicken nuggets and iceberg lettuce doused in honey mustard, saving loonies and toonies to instead buy local craft beer and discount Banana Republic clothes. I had little money and even less time.

Immediately out of university, I flew to Busan, South Korea in search of a comfortable life, and found one immediately; now, the problem isn’t earning money, but saving it. I have successfully spent thousands — like, previously unthinkable amounts of money — on travel. My fascination (addiction?) appears among the world’s most expensive hobbies, which has forced a return to my student-era comfort zone of frugality, only evolved: I’ve spent so long scouring the web for cheap flights that it’s become a part-time job. I continue to live sans smartphone despite being easily able to afford and purchase one from any Korean “Gangnam Style”-blasting phone shop.

I have successfully spent thousands — like, previously unthinkable amounts of money — on travel.

So things work cyclically. One year of teaching in Korea has culminated in pitiful savings; two years has earned me a little more. Enough, anyway, to fly around the world backwards, which is a fact I am forced to remind myself every day is a luxury that I can afford, not just with a bit of money, but with all this newfound free time.

For the first time in a really long time, I will have nothing to do. Even when on vacation from Korea, I worry about making flights and impending lesson plans. So it’s a frightening novelty to realize that I will be totally and entirely on my own, with few obligations and no source of income; simply a consumer consuming the world, and being consumed by it. Which, I suppose, by way of preface, is why I began this blog; to provide some sense of lingering commitment and belonging to the world I am closing my eyes to for a few months in my explosion of time and expunging of income.

Basically what I’m trying to say is, I’m available for freelance work.

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