Stu-de-ooooh

The very first studio apartment I ever moved into, four years ago, was the size of a postage stamp. It had a murphy bed, a tiny bathroom, and a small kitchen. I remember what it felt like at the end of the first day, my mom climbing in her car to go back home, and then it was just me, surrounded by boxes in a tiny little room. It was scary; it was exciting. It was so quiet.

Moving into that studio was the most independent thing I had ever done… and I needed so badly to be independent then. I needed to prove I could be alone and survive. Not only did I grow to absolutely love living alone, I swore I would never not live alone again. I cried when I left that apartment. It symbolized so much. It was hard to leave, even if I was just going three blocks down the road.

My next studio was a little larger. This time, I had a small outside patio, backed up to a cement wall. It wasn’t much, but from noon to 1pm it got some pretty sunshine. Neighbor and I took advantage of the hour as often as we could. It was an upgrade to have an outside space, a few more square feet, and a place to put my actual bed (although I ended up missing the murphy).

My life changed even more between those walls. I made lifelong friends, I started cooking more often, I went through a serious smoothie phase, I watched the entire first season of True Detective, and I learned what it was like to have Neighbor full time. It was a huge adjustment, but I was happy.

Going against everything I had claimed I would never do, but wanting a yard for Neighbor, I moved into a giant blue house the following year. It didn’t take long for me to regret the decision. It was a good house, good roommates, and having a yard was an absolute luxury, but I missed my independence. I missed having all my things exactly where I wanted, not having to clean up after anyone but myself, my own kitchen, and being able to walk naked from the shower to my room without a care in the world.

When all the original roommates were checking out (one moved to Seattle; one bought a house outside the city), I happily signed a lease for a studio down the road. As my move-in date drew nearer, however, I started to feel panicked. My life was much different than it had been when I first started living alone. Not only that, but my anxiety/depression was the worst it had ever been. A feeling of loneliness and futility followed me around every day, and that was with roommates around, other human interaction. Working from home didn’t make it easier, either. The idea of living by myself (and working by myself) in a new studio scared me. If I was sad then, I would definitely be even more sad in a new space, alone.

The move in day came and went. The same scenario where Mom leaves and I’m alone for the first time. Surrounded by boxes, the strange new sounds, the quiet. There are moments of sadness, of loneliness, and there are moments of happiness, familiarity. Each day, this new place has felt a little more homey. As I type this, Neighbor and I are sitting out on our teeny balcony, enjoying the summer evening, and I can honestly say I’m happy here, right now, in this moment.

Life is weird. It’s hard. It’s never, ever what you expect it to be. If I was a superhero, Change would be my arch-nemesis. I am always fighting change. But change is how I grow, change pushes me to be stronger. And every time, change brings me new surprises, new memories to look back on and think, why was I ever so scared?

I hope this time around isn’t any different.

Staying Grounded

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Remember that one time I said I was going to blog every day? Let’s just all have a good healthy laugh over that one, shall we? That being said, I have been traveling like a maniac lately.

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I live in airports.
I sleep in terminals.
I work in coffee shops.

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There are so many rewarding aspects to a career as a travel writer, but it has its serious down falls. Like now, for instance, I’m high over Mexico City, flying home from the last of two press trips. This is my eighth flight in eleven days- and I still have one more to go. I’m at Hour 3 of 8 hours total of flying today. I woke up at 4:45am; I won’t get home until midnight. Because this isn’t my first rodeo, I know when I walk in my front door tonight I’ll be exhausted, hungry and overwhelmed from an entire day of trying to get back.

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For all of the frustrations and foibles of traveling, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for the world. The people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve been blessed to have, the ways my eyes have been opened to different people and cultures – I know the opportunity I am given to see the world is more than most people will get in a lifetime, yet still I find reasons to complain. Long lines, missed connections, hours spent waiting on the tarmac, hours spent waiting to board, hours spent waiting. Yet it seems every time I throw myself into an exasperated tizzy, I am quickly confronted by something or someone who teaches me better. For all the posh accommodations and luxury settings, these trips often are the times I am most humbled and most reminded of all the things I am so lucky to have at home – a supportive, loving family / admirable, true friends / the world’s most neurotic (but handsome!) dog / and a city that inspires me, grows me, and welcomes me back every time.

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Like It Or Not
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Blogging everyday is like Thanksgiving dinner. I love all the sides – the mash potatoes, the stuffing, the chacuterie plate we all snack on leading up to big meal. But the turkey? Meh. I could do without the turkey. It’s the same with blogging – I love all the steps I take leading up to the actual blogging itself. I get my laptop and head to my favorite coffee shop, order a coffee, set my stuff out stragetically on the table, take in the atmosphere … but when it’s time to blog? Meh. What is there to write about?
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What’s annoying is on the way to the coffee shop I have a million ibrilliant ideas that are relevant and clever. What’s even more annoying is that I call myself a writer, but when the time comes to write – I got nothing.
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On that note, blogging is also an exercise in self-confidence. I would post much more often if I didn’t finish some piece of writing, re-read it, and immediately delete it, telling myself, “No one wants to hear this. This is boring. Try again later.”
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So whether I like it or not, I am force blogging. I’m going to write myself a schedule, I am going to write every day, and I’m not going to second guess myself.
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Doing it.
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For real.
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Ready. Set. Go.
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I’m not afraid of heights, but lately it feels like I’ve been standing on the edge of a cliff, one foot dangling precariously over nothingness, transferring my weight from what is rooted in the ground to what is completely unknown. Like the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon. All I can do is pray that in the end, if I have faith in the construction, I will come down on something solid.

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The tears finally came, filling my eyes, brimming over, running down my cheeks. I pushed back up against my bedroom wall and slid down until I had crumpled into a heap, my head between my knees, arms lying limp at my sides.

When I was little, I would lay in bed holding my sheet up, filling it with air, and then letting it fall around me, like a dusting of snow. This is the closest way I can describe how the grief found me. It fell down around me, all at once, encompassing. I cried for the sudden change in the present; I cried for the smoldering remains of the past. I cried because I was equally as excited as I was terrified. I cried because life is not fair and because it is strangely wonderful. I cried because I felt everything at once.