nostalgia

Early Morning Musings

I woke up today thinking about New Zealand. I have no idea why. I couldn’t remember the name of that grocery store that I was so in love with, the one that had cheap fresh products perfect for the backpacker budget. New something. New Lands? No, that’s the Justice song I put to my Fraser Island video. New… New… World! New World! Yes I wrote a post about it. After Kaikoura, when I woke up to see the sunrise with tea. Tea sounds nice. I’ll go make some tea and read my post about New World.

That led to watching my road trip video to the boat video to the oceans video to the sandboarding video and I felt myself enter a downward spiral of reminiscing and nostalgia. I knew I didn’t actually want to be on the road again, but I will always miss the lifestyle I had that year.

I’m just shy of a year away from the end of my 300 days around the world, so maybe that’s a contributing factor to this feeling of uncertainty about settling into a single place for so long. Every Timehop that shows me where in Japan I was a year ago is just a countdown to the end of that trip, to the time my first year of travel was over, to that feeling in the Seoul airport when I had a panic attack about going back Stateside. I’m not Stateside now but I am stopped. I live and work in one place, something I haven’t been able to say for almost two years.

And I just got back from San Francisco, the last place that I did live and work. It’s been a rough adjustment since I got back a week ago. I do owe you a blog post on my time there, and that will help explain this a bit, but suffice it to say that reentering my old life for two weeks has put my new life in serious contrast and I’m not sure how it will play out. Yes I am still happy in Antigua, yes I still believe this was the right choice for me right now, and yes I am still staying for the foreseeable future. For the foreseeable future. What lies beyond the seeable I don’t know yet.

I do know that for now, I must make the most of my time here. Many of my friends are on their way out or have already left. Sometimes I feel like I’ll outlast everyone. But then I remember how many people have left and come back and are still around and I am still just getting to know and I know that there is still more for me here. But what some of these friends have said about their final days in Antigua is how much they’ve come to appreciate it at the end, almost like seeing it for the first time again. That instant love that we all felt when we got here, that made us stay here, seems to return when you’re about to leave. So instead of waiting for that moment when I decide to leave, I will try to remember every day how wonderful this place is and make it my own. It won’t be my permanent home, so in a way every day I’m here is like a day on my way out. Even if that final out is still months away.

But for now, I will indulge my nostalgia and watch a few more travel videos. And why not? Those first 300 days remain 300 of the best days of my life. Why wouldn’t I want to relive and remember them any chance I can?

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The Why of Buenos Aires

BA was so incredible to me for 2 reasons: first, the city itself; second, the people I met there.

The city is beautiful. It’s Paris and New York City combined, with classic mid-rise buildings on tree-lined streets, shops and cafes along the ground level, and sculptures, fountains and parks around every corner. Graffiti is also around every corner, but in an artful not harmful way. Every neighborhood has its own feel and just walking the streets is an activity worthy of your time. People are active everywhere, from rollerblading in the park to running along Puerto Madero. And the food – incredible. Not just the delicious steaks but I had great salads, crepes, pulled pork and cheesesteak sandwiches, tacos (actually spicy ones!), and desserts. Then there’s the nightlife. Everything you’ve heard about BA nightlife is true and it still doesn’t prepare you for it. Live performances, DJ dance clubs, or chill local bars, it has something for everyone every night of the week.

BA has an energy and it is addictive. It’s not surprising that so many people visit and don’t leave. It has everything you could want in a city, but it’s more than what it can offer that makes it so special, it’s just the atmosphere. The kind of thing you have to experience to get. So go, experience it, and you’ll see what I mean.

The people I met in BA. Where to start? After being on the road for 3 months I was missing some normalcy in my interactions – having conversations that went beyond where you’re from and where you’re going, being able to message a friend to see what they’re up to today and create a spur of the moment plan, and just generally having people around who you’re comfortable with, who you can actually do nothing but sit on a couch with and still have a good time. I found these people in BA.

This group of solo travelers had all met at different points in their journies and I was lucky enough to be welcomed into their family. Travel times ranged from a few weeks to over a year, so somehow the timing just worked out that everyone was in BA staying at America del Sur. I haven’t ever so quickly felt so at home with a group of people before. We spent hours lounging together in the basement, cooked dinners together, had some crazy fun nights out, hung out in parks, explored the city, and experienced BA with each other.

My first night in BA I had one of the hardest moments of my trip so far: I was missing a close friend’s wedding. My friends and I came up with a plan to FaceTime the night of the rehearsal dinner so I could say hi to all of them together. I was at Alex’s apartment and these people I had just met made sure I had the wifi password, enough time before we went out, and a quiet place to talk. They saw it was important to me and helped me make it work. And then they helped cheer me up since of course I was sad I was missing this big event. I couldn’t have been in a better place for that weekend. That set the stage for the next 2 weeks of good times. When I left for Uruguay I was sad to go, but when I got back it was like I’d never left. I was greeted with big hugs and my plans for the weekend. That was the first night I had to go back to my hostel in Palermo instead of staying at America del Sur. When it was time to leave I said I had to go home. Tom responded, “You are home.” That’s how I felt. For 10 days, I had a home in this year of homelessness.

Goodbyes can be hard, and leaving BA was my hardest goodbye so far. Could it possibly have been even harder than leaving the US? 10 days in this amazing city felt as important to me as a year. When I left, I felt satisfied as a tourist, like I had seen and done all I wanted to, but sad just in life. Couldn’t that perfect combination of city and people last forever? My only comfort was that everyone had either left or was planning on leaving 3 days later. It was over for all of us. But these people will forever mean a lot to me. Thank you for being such a big part of making BA as special as it was.

Bon Voyages

Over the past month I’ve said goodbye to a lot of people. I’ve moved out of the city I loved with some of the best people I’ve ever known, I’ve reconnected with college and high school friends only to say bye again, and I’ve gotten together with family in a wonderful sendoff celebration.

All of these goodbyes have been sad, and they’ve made this very real. But more than anything, they’ve reminded me of all the fantastic, supportive people I have in my life. For that I am forever thankful. I will miss you all so much.

I know I am looking forward to taking a break from our hyper-connected technological world for a bit, but I can’t help but feel grateful that the same technology I’m escaping will allow me to keep in touch from wherever I am in the world. Through this blog, through email, facebook messaging, google hangouts, and WhatsApp (yes I have decided to bring my iPhone as a wireless device), I will at least be able to say some quick hellos and hopefully have some great catch-up sessions while I’m away.

And maybe I’ll be able to convince more people to join me. Or at the very least, I’ll be able to feel like it hasn’t been so long when I see everyone again upon my return.

So for now, all of you have been a part of this journey already. Thanks for everything, thanks for following so far, and I will try my best to follow through on my promise to keep this blog updated so you can all come along with me, at least virtually.

9 hours till my flight.

Auf Wiedersehen, USA.

3 Year One Way Anniversary

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

NY to SF 3 Years Ago

Today is my 3 year anniversary of moving to San Francisco. Which means it’s also the anniversary of the first one way ticket I ever bought.

Traveling one way felt so final. Until that point I’d had round trip journeys – college was limited to 4 years from the start, my flight to study abroad in Germany was 5 months before my return but still round trip, and while living in New York City was a move I always knew I wouldn’t be there forever. The move to San Francisco was the first big decision I made that felt so profoundly life-changing.

Now, on my 3 year anniversary of this first one way adventure, I find myself in a place where I have purchased 7 one way tickets in the past month. SEVEN.

I’m going to take a second and let that sink in. Because that is sort of insane…

 

I remember moving to San Francisco like it was only 3 days ago. While I could write a whole separate blog full of anecdotes about my love for this place and all the people I know here, what stands out for this blog is what that move meant to me in relation to this trip.

After graduating college I landed in NYC more by convenience than desire. Graduating with no job and in the middle of a recession, I applied to internships in the closest metropolis I could, which, being from New Jersey, is NYC. After my internship turned into a full time job I moved into the city. I’m happy I did, I always liked the city and had thought about living there so I wanted to try it out, but it was never meant to be final. I had a plan – NYC for 3 years, travel for a year, then move to SF.

See, San Francisco was my end goal. I had visited family in SF many times growing up and fell in love with it. I knew one day I would be here, and everyone who knew me knew that was my goal. So when I was offered a job for an amazing architecture firm in my dream city, I couldn’t turn it down, it was too good to be true. It was also too early. It meant I had to adjust my plan and move to my dream city before doing my trip.

I viewed this is as a delay, not a cancellation, of the trip. And when I moved out here, instead of thinking I ended up at my destination too soon, I saw it as a sign that I could follow through on my convictions. I had talked about moving to San Francisco for so long and I finally did it. I left behind my comfortable East Coast life (grew up in NJ, college in upstate NY, apartment in NYC) and most of my close friends and immediate family and set off to live a dream.

It has been the best decision I ever made for so many reasons, not the least of which was proving to myself that one day I would have the courage to make the same decision to take off on my trip.

Now that I’ve made this next decision, I am as excited and nervous as I was then, which actually gives me some comfort. If I was right with that risk, I’m sure I’ll be right with this one. So while it’s a little odd to celebrate an anniversary of somewhere I’m about to move out of, it is also a celebration of the confirmation of how right that one way flight can be.

And besides that, my 3 years here are completely worth celebrating. They’ve been some of the best years of my life and I love this city. One day I hope to return and stay for good. Assuming, that is, that after this trip I’ll ever be able to stay in one place for good.

Goodbye Old Passport

I had to replace my old passport before I left – it expired in May. In honor of receiving my new one today (I can actually go now!), here’s a look back at my past 10 years of travel.

The passport I sent in was my passport since I was 17. It served me well on many international excursions, as well as those 6 months in San Francisco when I lost my NJ drivers license and put off taking the test to get my CA one. Whenever I took it out I loved flipping through the pages and seeing the visual proof of places I’ve been. The stamps triggered so many memories. Before I sent it in, just in case they didn’t send it back, which I’ve heard happens even though the website tells you they will, I scanned its pages so I would still have access to the memories. (As of the time of posting this, they still have not sent it back, but they say it may come in a separate mailing.)

Here are a few highlights.

Germany, Hungary, Austria, the U.S.

Germany, Hungary, Austria, the U.S.

Israel, Peru, Germany, Nicaragua, the U.S.

Israel, Peru, Germany, Nicaragua, the U.S.

Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, England, the U.S.

Switzerland, Mexico, Austria, England, the U.S.

Peru, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, the U.S.

Peru, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, the U.S.