Here we are, back in Aries. My last month of being 34. It’s almost as if I’ve lived two lives: before and after 18.

As my boyfriend and I walked down Ocean Blvd in Long Beach tonight, I remarked at how far I’ve come from Montana. Everywhere you look here, you’ll see some kind of Palm tree. And so many Birds of Paradise plants. I have to keep reminding myself that parts of the country are under snow.

I am 40 pounds overweight currently, which makes me feel older. I think my more regular schedule will help bring my cravings back under control.

It’s remarkable that I’ve had so much freedom the past 9 years: to vacation as often as I wanted; to work as many days a week as I wanted (which usually meant every day). My current transition back into structure, and the “freedoms” it offers, is already an adjustment.

An episode of Park and Rec tonight spoke of “tourist” syndrome: described as someone who stays a couple years here and there and just takes away stories, rather than caring long-term for the communities and people they touch. That has felt like me, pretty much since I left high school. Probably even before that. When you get uprooted at a young age you learn not to invest because of the heartache it is sure to cause later. The show described a “tourist” as selfish, which sounds harsh. It is probably true in the raw sense, but a negative connotation is not necessary. We can’t always be settlers in life: in some stages we are tourists. But now, just maybe with this partner at this time in my life, I’ll have another opportunity to settle.