Posted in Changes, Lessons, Love, Snapshot, The Barista, Time, Travel, Wishes, Work

Life out of season

I loved Denver – she was just my type.

In appearances, the mountains glistened, the city sprawled, the old became new. In personality, there were a thousand places to go, craft scenes to explore, people to meet. In soul, she was vibrant and alive and six hours from everywhere.

No wonder it was so easy to fall in love – Denver was just my type.

But something was never quite right. Long timers warned me. She’s changed, they said. I didn’t care.

But Denver didn’t love me back. Oh, we were friends, certainly. She took me along for the ride. But the lust was never reciprocated. I was one of many to court her, but in the end she chose another.

She was the heartbeat of Europe with the familiar shoes of Iowa and an exotic note all her own.

She fought me. Threw housing problems, ill-fitting jobs, broken relationships, car theft and exorbitant prices my way. I ignored these signs. I had friends! I had adventures! Surely, we were meant to be, Denver and me.

I loved Denver. She was just my type.

But then, one day, as dreams began to form again, I looked at the dart I’d thrown on a map. I looked at Denver. And I realized with sadness that she didn’t love me back. She’d never given herself to me as I had to her.

The suffocation of the unrequited love affair began. I felt our connection crumbling. I was a barnacle clinging to her rather than a lobster paired for life with this beloved city. Trapped, I felt the urge to flee. What now? Where do I go from here?

I loved Denver. She was just my type.

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Career, Current Events, Dating, feminism, Love, Snapshot, The Barista, Travel

The Serenity of Singlehood

Although statistically the median age of marriage has skyrocketed since the early 90s after remaining static for a hundred years, there’s still a stigma associated with being without a partner.

Don’t believe me, city dwellers?

When was the last time that you read an article that genuinely celebrated the author’s singleness, instead of making-do until the next relationship came along?

I’ve struggled with this mindset.

I have always warned potential mates, “I’m really good at being single,” as a way to prepare them for the fact that I’m going to continue to live my own life with my friends, dreams, and aspirations. If I’m choosing to include you as a significant other, it’s because I want you around as a part of it, not because I’m going to replace everything else in my day with you.

Unsurprisingly, most guys aren’t a huge fan of this.

No worries for me. Like I told them, I’m really good at being single.

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I’m currently reading the book All The Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation. I was on the waiting list at my local library for six months, and it is well worth waiting for. Allow me to share a couple of excepts that resonated with me.

On life after a breakup:

Suddenly, my life was so much richer and so much more full of people to depend on and relate to and connect with. I never felt more fundamentally lonely…than when I was in a relationship. And I’ve never felt more supported and connected and fully appreciated than when I was single!

And on marrying later in life after living in a big city:

It’s not such a bad thing to always have something to do, someone to meet, work to complete, trains to catch, beers to drink, marathons to run, classes to attend. By the time some women find someone to whom they’d like to commit and who’d like to commit to them, perhaps it’s not such a bad thing that they will have, if they were lucky, soaked in their cities and been wrung dry by them, that those who marry later, after a life lived single, may experience it as the relief of slipping between cool sheets after having been out all night. These same women might have greeted entry into the same institution, had they been pressured to enter it earlier, with the indignation of a child being made to go to bed early as the party raged on downstairs.

Many of my small town friends are married. I danced at their weddings and coo over their children. They tell me of their domestic lives, and I cheer for them while inwardly shrinking back in horror from the entrapment of even a long term relationship. There are so many mountains to climb, cities to get lost in, men to flirt with, wines to sample, nights to wane with conversation. For me, singlehood offers the best of all there is. With some recent developments, I’ve realized I’ll be single for at least the next two years, and that concept doesn’t frighten me at all. Oops, I might not date until I’m 27? Meaning at the absolute earliest I’ll be married at 29, if then? Ah, well. Did you hear about that new taco place on Tennyson?

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Last night, I borrowed a sleeping bag from a friend (as mine was lent out to someone else), and headed out into the mountains. With the fire ban in effect, I decided to just car camp near the base of Mt. Bierstadt. I’d hoped to hike it in the morning, but as I rolled by the parking lot, the cars overflowed onto the roadside even at 6:30 in the morning. Anxiety welled up in me, and I realized that I needed solitude. I kept driving down winding roads, occasionally turning and barely keeping track of how to get home. Eventually I found a place to walk around. I spent a good hour strolling, encountering only one other soul as I listened to the river beside me and rejoiced in the gray skies relieving Colorado from the relentless heat.

There was silence. There was solitude. There was no one to call and check in with, no one to text that I’d changed my mind. It was simply the delight of following the open road, following what my body and soul so desperately needed.

Certainly, there are moments of loneliness. But at the end of the day, I crave freedom more than warm arms. I prefer to forge a family out of the friends and city around me than to create one by law. Thanks to the generations of women before me, I’m able to be wild and nomadic and make my own rules. I’m able to be alone or surrounded by people on a whim. It is here, in this self-made world, that I am truly able to find serenity in singlehood.

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Posted in Backyard Tourism, Growing Up, Languages, People, Snapshot, Stories, The Barista, Time, Travel, Wishes, Work

Soul Wide Awake

I know you don’t mean to insult me when you call it a vacation. But I don’t think you realize how wrong that word is.

A vacation is an escape from reality – relaxation, scheduled time to recharge. A vacation has hotels booked, tours planned, beaches chosen.

This is not a vacation.

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I am not escaping from reality – I’m finding it. My soul, at rest in the world of money and responsibilities, stretches and swells here. It fits my body perfectly instead of wearing my skin like a hand-me-down coat: not uncomfortable, but ill-fitting and not my style.

My plans are but a vague outline, often changing on a whim as a passerby says, “We’re going here, want to come?” I stay in a 12-bunk dorm, forgoing privacy and pray the locks hold on the cabinet where I’ve stashed my passport. I dine on street food and cook pasta leftover from a long departed traveler – that is, if the whirlwind of the day reminds me to eat at all.

I wear blisters on my feet with pride as my legs ache from getting lost all day in an unfamiliar city. I sneak into quiet streets to consult my map and compass as to not draw attention to my foreigner status, and curse my body’s need for sleep.

I listen to the cadence of a new language swirl around me and stare at signs, struggling to decipher their meaning. I cringe in shame when a hostel worker or airline employee glances at my American passport and immediately switches to English for my benefit.

You think this is a vacation?

No.

This is travel.

For now, I become she who has been hidden since my last journey into the unknown.

I become she who feels more intensely, sees in brighter colors, and smells the universe each morning. I live with abandon and belong exactly where I am.

I am she who is confident, beautiful, fearless, strong, and fierce. I am she who is curious, radiant, defiant, wild, laughing, and free. I am she who holds her arms open to the world and says, “Here I am! Give me the best you have!”

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My soul is wide awake, and every moment is a precious gift.

And then I return.

Back to the world of routine. Of bills and schedules and putting gas in my car. Of small talk and appointments and wearing a path in the sidewalk I tread each day.

In the traditional world, a groove becomes a rut, and I soon look up from the bottom with fear and trepidation building.

“I can’t leave this,” I tell myself. “I’m too afraid. This isn’t fun, but it’s comfortable. This isn’t right, but at least I know where I’m sleeping and how to get around. I’m afraid to go again. I should stay where it’s safe.”

But that tiny spark that can’t be put out whispers to me, “You must go.”

You think I’m going on vacation?

No.

This is breathing.

This is living the best version of me.

This is seeing my soul wide awake.

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Posted in Changes, Lessons, People, Stories, The Barista, Travel, Wishes, Work

the worst of both worlds

Yesterday, I met the person I want to be when I grow up.

Travelers and nine-to-fivers both, you make me feel guilty.

To the travelers, I am too stable. I own a car, have Netflix, don’t work a miserable job that pays through the roof. I have a lease and insurance and own a few pieces of furniture. It is difficult for me to drop everything in a heartbeat and leave for months at a time.

To the the more traditional, I am too reckless. I have no desire to own my own business or own a house. I’d rather spend money on plane tickets than a bigger apartment, on weekend getaways to another state than an all-inclusive resort.

But yesterday, I met the one that falls halfway between the two worlds. She works a high-paying job that she really likes. She travels all over the globe 2-3 weeks out of the year and takes weekend getaways. And she’s planning her life so that she can retire young and spend her fifties and beyond exploring.

I want to be like her. I want to see the world on my terms, and not because it’s a methodology someone else decided was the “right” way to do things.

And in the meantime, my soul is getting awfully tired of meeting travelers.

I love them. When we meet, my heart leaps with the instant bond of the road. We become friends within minutes, kindred spirits within hours. You’re the ones I call and say, “I’m leaving in an hour, do you want to come?” You’re the ones who draw people to yourselves, and when we all meet in some strange room we dance and sing and love. You’re a part of something bigger, and I feel as though my world expands every time we speak.

And just like that, you’re gone.

You’re a spark. A flame. You burn brightly and beautifully and you make life so much more colorful. And then you’re gone.

“It’s just a new couch to stay on!” you reassure me.

I have many couches.

“It’s an excuse to go to another city/state/country!” you remind me.

I need no excuse.

“I can’t stay here,” you sigh.

I know.

I know you can’t. I know I can’t keep you. I know the same feeling of being trapped, drowning in the sea of tradition and regulation and normalcy. I know the itch of needing to find something new, go somewhere different, do something strange. I know the agony of when a groove becomes a rut. I know the joy of the new, the delight of the change, the thrill of the chase.

I know.

But the constant fluctuation is wearing. When I stay still and you all spin around me, a kaleidoscope of conversations and adventures and traditions. And then I lose you. And my world loses just a little bit of color.

I wonder if it’s worth it.

Is it worth it to fight to find you, to enjoy the hours and days? Is it worth it to enrich each others lives, only to break apart again? Is the pain worth it?

And once again, I’m trapped in the middle. As a traveler, the answer is always yes. For a normal, functioning member of society, the answer is not so simple. I’m constantly seeking out new connections and new friends, and constantly having my heart broken as they leave to continue out in the great wide world.

Worth is a deep, personal question.

Is it worth it?

 

 

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Lessons, Musing, People, Stories, The Barista, Travel

Wolf Girl and the Traveler

Regrets collect like old friends
Here to relive your darkest moments

And it’s hard to dance with a devil on your back
And given half the chance would I take any of it back
It’s a fine romance but it’s left me so undone
It’s always darkest before the dawn

When I make new friends, I’m generally exhausted by the end of the first interaction and ready to go home to recharge myself. The more time I spend with them, the more energy I have. Eventually, the relationship develops to the point where I walk away feeling more alive than I did when I walked in.

And every once in a while, I meet a stranger that immediately belongs.

I realized that national parks had no entrance fee on MLK day and promptly started reaching out in my network to find a companion on my day-off excursion.

In recent weeks, I’ve befriended a traveler who is wandering the globe on social currency. And some of you may remember the story of Wolf Girl from my last post – it turns out that, indeed, we would meet again!

Armed with these two characters, we caffeinated ourselves and gasped at the vistas as we dove into Rocky Mountain National Park. Florence + The Machine played our soundtrack as we got ourselves lost in the park.

Those strangers who immediately belong? They sat in my car and shared their lives.

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For the first time, I felt like I could adequately express my disjointedness. We spoke of growth and failures, shared the places we’d traveled, and brushed the deepest parts of our souls. We stood in the bizarrely warm mountain air and breathed in the ancient new world. The artists spun tales of song and dance, and we spoke of the dreams we’d fulfill for others if we ever won the lottery.

As we made our way back down to Estes Park, we started realizing none of us had eaten that day. By the time we made it back to Boulder, we were punchdrunk and laughing ourselves silly. As we crossed the street aiming for lunch, we ran across a barista dropping supplies in the middle of Broadway. We scooped up her cups and followed her back to her cafe where she bestowed us with free coffee as thanks. When we finally sat down on the tea room floor for sushi, the waitress joined in our laughter – and then a waiter recognized us from earlier in the morning across town.

One of our key conversations of the day? You find what you’re looking for. Wolf Girl shared of a day in New Mexico when she was talking on the phone about needing a place to stay, and a woman handed her a key and said, “Use my guest cottage – it’s just down the street.” The Traveler reflected on arriving in Denver and the bus driver covering his lack of fare. I had stories of my own: we all search for the good in people. And even when life utterly sucks, we find the good.

Shake It Out refrains that it’s always darkest before the dawn. I always interpreted that phrase as meaning life sucks, then it gets amazing. It’s only been recently that I finally realized how ridiculous that was. If you’re lost in the forest in the middle of the night, you don’t suddenly find yourself outside the forest at dawn. But you do find yourself equipped with the tools and abilities needed to get out. It’s the same in life. People are still going to hurt you. Living situations will fall through. You’ll have to find a new job. It will be hard. That difficulty won’t go away. The dawn simply means you’ll be able to handle it. Each experience will grow you, change you, define you. Each person you meet will leave a part of themselves with you. And in the end, you’ll see more clearly than the day before. It’s always darkest before the dawn.

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As I drove home alone, I felt myself energized and alive after a day with strangers-turned-friends. The gifted crystalline whose properties perfectly related to my life weighed down my pocket. My heart was still beating from dancing around a living room watching the sunset over the Flatirons. And I realized that I was growing again. I was alive again.

And life? Life is good.

Thanks, Traveler and Wolf Girl.

 

Posted in Growing Up, Lessons, Musing, People, Snapshot, The Barista, Time, Travel

impostor syndrome

At twenty-five, I’m starting to see my peers as adults.

We’re no longer floundering around, renting our first apartments, burning our first meals, ignoring the squeals on our brakes until our cars are unable to stop.

We’re looking for a place that suits us and our budget instead of one or the other.

We’re developing spice racks – and have a few key dishes we can whip out for guests.

We regularly change our oil and cheer when our insurance rates go down.

We have a logical, thoughtful exchanges that I’m far more accustomed to having with people 3-5 years older than me, and later find out my conversation partner is a few months younger.

I look around in astonishment and realize that without my consent, I’ve grown up. I have conversations about retirement accounts and the practicality of millennials being willing or able to leave the workforce. I track my expenses and have a budget. I have a shiny university degree that says I show up and do my work. I keep being put into positions of authority where I hire and train and manage people and places.

By all external manifestations, I’m an adult.

And I feel like I’m an utter impostor.

This isn’t one of those “Adults shouldn’t have to grow up! Be a child! Have fun! Enjoy life!”

I’m a traveler. I absolutely adore life.

It is the responsibility aspect.

I get surprised when someone comments that I’m doing really well at something, or call me a sweet person. I’m just floating through life, doing what I think I should be doing. I don’t feel like anything I do is exceptional – it simply is what it is.

I sometimes feel like I intentionally stopped at 19, but my body continued without me. Hence I feel like an impostor. The only time I get carded anymore is when I’m with a beardless man (which in and of itself is a little insulting – I mean, yes, I’m plenty old enough to buy this drink, but really? I don’t look 30 yet!).

I was talking to some friends about this situation the other day, and we bemoaned wishing we were still 19. Back then, we had no money but somehow everything just worked. We had all the adventures, all the magic, and being poor was more fun than stressful. We didn’t sleep but had energy, we didn’t eat well but it didn’t affect us.

Now, just a few years later… it all falls apart. We get home from work and are too tired to do anything. We manage to socialize once a week or so, but after a few hours happily escape to our beds. Money means something, and the lack of it is scary. We thank our lucky stars that we don’t have children to throw into this mess of life, being responsible for a tiny creature when we can hardly afford to clothe ourselves. (Oh, yes, living in an expensive city because we love it and want to work at something we love has its disadvantages.)

We’re impostors. We feel like we don’t belong here – and yet somehow, we’re told that we do. Others look at the beautiful final reel instead of the raw footage and think somehow we have it figured out. Somehow, someone, somewhere, decided that we deserve the title of being an adult.

I may not believe it.

I may get confused when people assign it to me.

But somehow, it’s mine. And if that’s the case, I need to claim it, redefine it, make it fit me rather than the other way around. I need to be comfortable with it, greet it like a friend rather than a person I need to impress.

It’s a dangerous thing, this impostor syndrome.

I met a delightful stranger the other day. Very rarely do people answer the question, “How are you?” genuinely. But she did. She looked at me sadly and said, “I’m wrestling with the wolves, trying to decide which one to feed. So I bought a one-way ticket to Mexico for tonight.” To my surprise, I saw her two days later. “Wait,” I exclaimed. “Why aren’t you in Mexico?!” Her eyes twinkled, and I could see the relief that had been absent before. “I moved to Boulder instead. The universe reorganized itself – I’ve never wanted to live there! But things just… worked. So I moved instead of leaving.”

I don’t know if I’ll ever run into this young woman again. But she has it figured out. She allows herself to get lost and find herself again. That genuine response to reality was confusing and beautiful all at once. She embraced the uncertainty, and in doing so, staked her claim on who she wanted to be.

So today, I sit here sipping coffee and dreaming. I may feel like an impostor, but I’m going to find me.

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Posted in Changes, Family, Growing Up, People, The Barista

traveler to transplant

This morning, Denver awoke to it’s first snowfall of the season.

I’ve managed to befriend mostly transplants since moving out here, and we were bemused by the beginning of winter. We come from states where this snow would mark the end of sunshine for six months. We come from states where we sadly tuck our tshirts in the back of the closet and brace for subfreezing temperatures until spring. We come from states where blizzards will continue for days, take a break, then continue to dump for another week. We come from states where if the temperature happens to rise above 32*, we cringe because we know that black ice awaits come sunset.

Denver’s first snowfall had almost entirely melted by 10am.
For transplants, winter on the Front Range is comical.

I moved out here in January, and the locals immediately sympathized. “Oh, dear, welcome. How are you handling Colorado winters?”

“Oh, you mean the winter where I can wear a sundress several times a month?”
“Oh, you mean the winter where you are all confused that the snow is still on the ground after a week?”
“Oh, you mean the winter where even after the first snowfall I can forget my coat inside?”

Yeah, I like these kinds of winters.

It’s a good thing, too, because for the first time in my life I’ve transplanted instead of traveled. I’m in the United States but won’t be going home for Christmas. A twenty-two hour round trip drive is not nearly as practical as a six hour one when I’m only able to get two days off at a time.

A part of me is very lonely thinking of this reality. My birthday falls in between Christmas and New Years, so that week of winter has always been special for me. When I was talking with my mom today and confessed I probably wouldn’t be able to afford coming home for Christmas, she told me, “It’s not like I don’t care about you, but I also don’t expect you to. You’re in a new phase of your life and living much further away. Come home when you can.”

Armed with this blessing, I’m looking forward to the season instead of dreading the loneliness. Recently, I’ve found myself falling into a group of 20-30somethings that have a family dinner every Tuesday night. It’s a low key potluck style dinner with a different theme every week. It’s a group of transplants where little effort is required to build relationships – they just happen naturally. The Tuesday Crew has flowing conversations instead of “Oh, welcome! Let me put all this focus on you and learn about every intimate detail with the entire group staring at you!” I’ve been able to slip in and out, building my awareness and excitement with every week. And every time I walk in, I walk out less exhausted.

Uprooting and beginning a new life in a new city is much more difficult than flitting from country to country and living out of hostels. Traveler relationships are a thousand times easier than transplant ones. Travelers meet on a whim and form a connection for life. Transplants go out of their way to find each other and have to make an intentional choice to meet again. But this group of transplants makes the idea of a winter on the mountains much more enjoyable – there’s a future, but there’s also the present.

The first snow has fallen, but it doesn’t signal the end of anything this year. Instead, it’s new beginnings and life within adulthood. Friendmas, anyone?

 

Posted in Backyard Tourism, Growing Up, People, Snapshot, The Barista

backyard memorials

I’ve been living in Colorado for ten months.

I would consider this to be the beginning of the best parts of moving to a new location.

I am starting to learn my way around the city, but I’m still new enough to see the wonder and excitement of being here. There’s still many corners to explore, but I’m not entirely reliant on my gps to get me there. I’m settling into friendships that are no longer hard work to maintain, but rather bring the energy of comfort.

I remember when Iowa City got to this point – when I started wanting my friends to come visit so I could show them around instead of awkwardly getting turned around with them. It’s the time when instead of being a drifter, I start to be local. As odd as this sounds, I had That Moment with Glenna this week for a rather somber occasion.

We were only about 8 years old during the Columbine massacre in 1999, but the effects of that radiated throughout our lives. As our friends get their teaching licenses and have their own classrooms of children, we hear the stories of the drills they go through to keep their students safe in the event of another Sandy Hook.

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When I first moved out here, I lived in Littleton – only about three miles from the high school. I first went to the memorial alone, weeks after arriving, and still in awe of the mountain range before me. “How,” I wondered, “could anyone do something so horrible with something so beautiful beside them every day?”

Shows my naivety.

I brought Glenna to the memorial this week. We walked around slowly, reading the tributes and the memories. There were some dying flowers contrasting the colorful autumnal changes. The sun was shining in the late afternoon and a warm breeze danced around the quiet, sunken space. We walked to the top of the hill, pondering the students from the school. Where are they now, and what have they done with their lives? What about generations to follow – what is going to university like and realizing that the entire world knows about your high school?

As we walked back down, Glenna took hold of my hand. We stepped in silence, slipping away from the memorial and past the children’s playground on our way to the car.

It was my moment of showing my friend something important that brought me to my next stage. This is becoming home. And moments of sadness and remembrance are a part of that.

I may have no personal connection to Columbine, but it is now woven into my story just a little tighter. And even just for a day, looking out over the mountains in the shadow of the high school, I took a breath and was thankful to be surrounded by home.

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Posted in Lessons, People, Something New, Stories, The Barista

the girl in the red dress

It really sucks that we are so bad at learning from others’ life lessons. At least I am – if you’re one of those mythical creatures that floats through life because you take to heart what others have warned you about, let’s chat.

My mentor Hiba did her best to steer me on a better path. And the longer I stood in her shoes (well, I wore flats instead of heels), the wiser she got.

One piece of advice I wish I would have heeded far earlier:

“Take yourself on a date. Be selfish, and take care of you, too.”

Giving tends to be my default mode. “Alright, I’ll figure it out. Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” was my answer to every problem – my old staff made fun of me because of it.

Hiba, on the other hand, urged me to take a break.

So tonight, I finally did.

I put on a dress I haven’t worn since freshman year of college. I got my hair cut in it. I went out for sushi in it – and actually bought a drink other than water! I found a necklace that I really liked and spent money on myself for fun. I went to a coffee shop with a flawless view of downtown to watch the moon rise above it. I turned my phone off and told no one where I was going.

Not going to lie, I felt vulnerable all night. I felt guilty spending money on myself with no practical application. I was on display – each person I interacted with said, “I’d hoped I’d be the one to get you.” A single female on a Saturday night, wearing a formal dress and looking content: I was a curiosity. They wanted to know my story.

Tonight, I had no name. Tonight, I wasn’t calming emergencies. Tonight, I wasn’t fixing problems. Tonight, I wasn’t building friendships or asking questions or catching up with my family. Tonight I wasn’t reading the news or a novel or anything where it was someone elses’ words and ideas. Tonight, I was just alone with me – in the constant company of the girl in the red dress.

“Take yourself out on a date,” Hiba urged me.

It’s a scary prospect. I didn’t find it lonely – par for the course of a solo traveler, more people talked to me when I was alone. But being alone meant that I actually had to listen to my inner voice.

It’s in there that I’m vulnerable: tender, quiet, exposed. My soul peeks out from the shadows where it hides, protected.

Take yourself out on a date. Learn from my mistakes, because I didn’t learn from my mentor’s.

It will probably not be bright and beautiful, because to allow yourself to be open the raw emotions and experiences of solitude is frightening. But it is revealing. It is cleansing. It is needed.

So try.

Take yourself out on a date. And find your own story.

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the red dress: seven years earlier
Posted in Backyard Tourism, Lessons, The Barista, Travel

the price of travel

As much as I wish I had an infinite source of income, my reality is that of a struggling millennial. I dream of far off places and distant lands, but try to have the best of both worlds by living in an interesting city and surrounding myself with interesting characters.

If I truly wanted to travel the world, all the blog posts tell me what I should do: teach English in South Korea. Live in my parent’s basement and work a miserable corporate job for a few years, driving a beater car that I’ve inherited. Spend my time at my home base with no outings.

Frankly, I can’t do that.

I see adventures as having levels.

Macroadventures are the round-the-world travel – the kind that you quit your socially accepted reality and go jetsetting and developing culture shock.

Microadventures are the 1-2 week vacation style – the time you take off of work and delve into something interesting.

Nanoadventures are what you can fit into a weekend – the type where people don’t even know you’ve disappeared.

If I never did nano or microadventures, I could easily have saved up for another macroadventure.

But I can’t do that. The last time I tried, I spiraled into a depression that left me helpless for six months.

So I choose to live.

I choose to pack an overnight bag in five minutes and be out the door in a heartbeat.

I choose to meet strangers at new restaurants and cafes.

I choose to spend my hours elaborating on my knowledge base, rather than sitting content and waiting for the next international flight.

I’m not rich.

I watch my pennies, and cringe when I fork over rent and car insurance, knowing I’m trapped on the quieter side of life for a few more days until my next paycheck. I squirrel away the dollars into a travel fund, counting the numbers growing far slower than I wish they would.

I know they could, but I choose the adventures that allow memories every week or every month, instead of only every year.

Sometimes, that is paying the entrance fee to a national park.

Sometimes, that is buying a coloring book to fill in while Skyping with my college roommate.

I’m learning that I don’t have to feel guilty for following my own path. I’m not a grand-scale traveler, nor am I climbing any corporate ladder. I’m just taking each day at its own worth and enjoying being alive – right here in my own back yard.