photo by meg. guatemala '08
– Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
thanks to Kent for writing our story...
Five days. I had exactly five days to move the majority of our possessions to Boise, find and sign on an apartment, and hopefully make some good leads on possible job opportunities. Ready for a change of scenery and driven by our not-so-secret love of Boise, we decided the City of Trees was to be our next stop in life.
Venturing through the parched landscape of the Palouse with no AC, my only solace came from the free Styrofoam cups of gas station ice I frequently applied to my forehead, arms, and back. Each cup of ice quickly melted and evaporated off my body, much like the burning Oregon countryside fading into the atmosphere. Without radio or an iPod hookup, I relied on a 99 cent thrift store book-on-tape, Native American Wisdom, to distract me from my thoughts. “It does not require many words to speak the truth,” the sayings of Chief Joseph resonated as I raced down the four lane highway that cuts through the land his people “sold” to the government. After fighting to return home for 25 years he died in exile, never to see the country of his forefathers again. The doctor said he died “of a broken heart.”
My few days as a Boise resident were brief, yet exhilarating, uneventful, yet life changing. Rolling into the city I set my clock forward an hour and changed all my preset radio stations to the local channels. I oriented myself with all the important landmarks one must become familiar with in a new city: the bank, the library, the cheapest gas stations, and the local super markets. I found the biking trails, checked out the Green Belt, and even met the infamous former governor of Idaho, Cecil Andrus. Yup, I was on my way to becoming a full-fledged Idahoan. As I wandered up and down the one-way streets of Bo-Do I envisioned all of the great adventures in store for us there.
And yet, these ideas were surprisingly unsettling. The more I familiarized myself with everything, the more disconnected I felt. It wasn’t the city, the people, the neighborhoods, or the atmosphere. Anyone would be lucky to live in such a wonderful place. It was the fact that my actions, my desires, were not in alignment with my dreams. These conscious pricks worked on my mind like a metronome, but were brushed aside quickly.
After several days of apartment hustling I went by one of the major hospitals in the area to get an update on the job applications I had submitted. Dressed in a snappy suit and carrying my resume I introduced myself to the HR director in hopes to set myself apart from the other candidates. “I’m sorry sir, but everything must be done online. We don’t accept paper resumes and we’ll contact you if we want to do an in person interview,” she immediately replied. “Oh, okay,” I proceeded, “well, my goal in stopping by was to help put a face with the applications and hopefully sit down with someone to discuss my qualifications.” She insisted. “Again, sir, there is nothing here for you.” There is nothing here for me? Perplexed, I thanked her and left.
Later that night I was lying on a friends’ bed pondering my situation and decided to read a small e-book my brother-in-law had sent me called Impossible: The Manifesto by Joel Runyon. The author makes the case that life is an adventure that is not to be contained by societal norms nor ruled by the wishes of others. Essentially, it’s a call to action. It’s a challenge to push your limits and live the life that you have always envisioned. Through his own words, Runyon put a modern spin on classic transcendentalist principles, and although I had read the works of Thoreau, Emerson, and Muir, it wasn’t until this moment that I realized I had been sacrificing my dreams to satisfy someone else’s ideas about life. And then it hit me. I can’t move here, not now. If we were ever going to do something different, this was the time. We had no apartment contract, no car payment, and no demanding jobs. I instantly realized just how easy a big change could be. Beginning to panic, I called Megan and made my case for why we should take advantage of that freedom.
“I think we should drop everything and move to Guatemala,” I blurted. Then, in typical Megan fashion and without hesitation she said, “Let’s do it.” For years we had dreamed of moving to Guatemala to be closer to her family, to polish our Spanish, and to have an adventure. However, this dream had been perpetually on hold as we fulfilled our scholarly duties. And when school was not interfering there was always some other reason why we shouldn’t go—not enough money, time, security, etc. But as we talked we realized that these limitations were not real. They were illusions that we created to justify our inaction. This recognition gave us the confidence we needed to make the change.
Within a week we sold 90 percent of our belongings, bought one-way plane tickets to Guatemala City, and landed employment opportunities with a non-profit education foundation in Chimaltenango, Guatemala doing photography, marketing and web design. We will be living there until next May and will be coming back in time for Megan’s wedding season. We still moved out of Spokane, but not to Boise. Megan’s family was kind enough to offer a place to stay for a couple months, so we are currently living in Heber City, Utah. In the mean time, I am working on a sheep farm hauling hay and moving pipe, and Megan is cleaning houses in between photo shoots. Nothing too glamorous, but it’s refreshing. We've always appreciated change in all its forms.
Thanks for all the excitement and support we've received. We are fortunate to have such wonderful family and friends. We look forward to staying in touch!
Kent & Meg