So a bee keeping, yurt building, compost master specialist it is.

I wish I knew what I was doing for more than 10 days at a time. It seems to be the nature of my life recently that my ideas and feelings are an infinite knot that cannot straighten out so I can tie it into anything useful. I ended my last travels 3 months ago and returned home reluctantly filled with conviction that I will be gone by September, not knowing where, perhaps a farm in Holland or maybe Colorado? Within 2 weeks of being home I got a job at farmer markets collecting compost and doing outreach and education about composting in New York. SCORE! I mean for an environmental junkie in the coined urban jungle this is a gold mine and a great way to spend a few months before I leave, because I’m definitely leaving no matter what.

A few weeks later, the job is still great but my hands are 10 feet in front me keeping everything back. I’m not staying and I’m not happy, as Kundera said, no man (or woman) can be happy when they long to leave the place they live. Holland falls by the wayside so does thoughts of Colorado and I realize that I can’t seem to straighten out this knot; I’m leaving, as I’ve said, but where am I going? So I start putting my hand down. I come to the conclusion I will stay until after the New Year, I missed the holidays last year and it seems pointless to do that again. So now what I have 6 months left here I’m going to need to figure out how to be a part of something.

A few weeks after that my job completely transforms everything, I started meeting so many artists, writers, and other environmental minded folks. There are farms where I can get paid to work in upstate NY? People own permaculture design businesses here? Your friend works in waste prevention? You want to build a tiny house in the middle of the woods too? Let’s make dinner sometimes and design our future tree houses!!! There is this promise of opportunities and the life I have wanted right here under my nose and I am finally starting to smell it. But so what? I’m leaving remember.

There are all just promises leaving or staying, at any point something can and probably will break no choice will be permanent, but that isn’t what really matters anyway. Right now I am just trying to wiggle the end point out of a knot without making another knot so I have something to concrete to hold onto. But everything is shifting, and I spend hours listening to youtube playlists and occasionally finding things like, what should I do with my life, while googling places to live in the Pacific Northwest. Places that aren’t too expensive, or pretentious, or hippie filled (is that even a problem?), and oh wait can I even find a job? Wait that farm looked awesome do I want to work there? Wait loans, right job. Wait are there even jobs that don’t require me to know how to treat water contamination? Then I close my eyes and listen to Hozier and wonder what is going on? Where am I being led to?

I haven’t written since I left Iceland. I guess I’ve been waiting to have something solid to say, but when you stand on ice playing with a knotted string all you can do is hop when you hear a crack, and try to hold onto the last knot you managed to untie or maybe tied, hard to tell.

My insistent seeking of certainty is the only consistency I’ve been experiencing, I might as well let go of that too.


CouchSurfing and the Kindness of Strangers

I have been travelling for 5 months, and have slept in 30 different beds across 8 countries. If my math is correct that is a different bed about every 5 days. Well the word bed is used loosely sometimes it was a couch, a floor, or a van. When I spoke about my trip before I left and people asked where I would stay throughout my travels I said, somewhat practically, I’ll wwoof and couch surf. Now after all is traveled and done, they weren’t necessarily difficult things to do but as I sit here thinking about all the places I have been it seems like an incredible feat. I am in Iceland right now, took advantage of the free lay-over, and am couch surfing in a flat right next to the ocean, with an unfortunately sick Icelander. I spent most of the day exploring empty, cold, rainy, but beautiful Iceland and saw my host intermittently for meals. I cooked us soup, well with canned soup much actual cooking wasn’t necessary, for dinner before he crawled back into bed to nurse his cough and fever. The last thing he said before he snuggled in, “You can have anything you like here, feel like this is your home.” I felt that familiar feeling of comfort I had throughout a lot of my travels, whether it has been an hour or a month, I was welcomed here.

Honestly couch surfing is a bit strange. Don’t get me wrong I love it and it is very beautiful in its’ oddity, I think it is the most amazing online community. I have officially couch surfed through the site 9 times and have met people through the site many more times than that. The people who truly integrate in the couch surfing community, host or surfer, openly share their lives for however long a time they are in each other’s company. It is easier to set no limits, they are easier to remember. It is a strange and beautiful thing to do this, and then when you do you can’t remember where you are or if it has been a day or a week, time exists in an alternative way. A conversation can last a lifetime and a month is gone in a blink.

I have relied on the kindness of strangers so much during my travels, well rather I have relied on strangers, the kindness was just an added bonus. There is usually this moment when I am first introduced to a new space when I am alone for a few minutes to settle in, drop my huge backpack, and shake my coat to the floor.  During this time my host gets us a drink or food, or me a towel or an extra blanket and in those few minutes I shake my head and smile in awe of people.

I was in Bristol doing a short –term internship for two weeks. It was a pretty incredible experience. From the first moment I stepped into the city my relationship with it was visual and loud, I had so many interactions that made me feel a part of it and not a visitor. I stayed with three different people throughout the two weeks, all very different but they were all able to show me their Bristol and their lives in unique and intimate ways. When I got to the last place, where  I stayed with a friend of a friend who very quickly became a great friend of mine. Within 24 hours she had bought breakfast for us, made up my bed in the spare room, made welsh cakes (little circles of love), and had washed and hung up my laundry while I was at work. Granted there was a little essay writing procrastination going on there and I don’t know maybe to someone else that is just what a host does, but to me that generosity is really rare and special. I think offering a bed to someone is incredibly nice but also sort of not a big deal like here, I have space do your thing. But what I have found is that every bed I slept in wasn’t just a bed, but a whole experience, a whole story, a whole life.

At moments it could be exhausting or slightly overbearing, but the majority of the time it was just beautiful. This give and take of energy and perspectives and hearts. It’s amazing having conversations with people from Glasgow, to Malaga, to Iceland and everywhere in between. Many people think and struggle with the same issues but everyone approaches it from different pasts and perspectives. The intricate details of these lived experiences are as different as they could be seen as similar.

I guess it is just the sheer volume of kindness that I am taking away with me. It seems to be that in our daily lives of work or school, eat, sleep repeat it doesn’t always leave room to truly meet people and integrate into their lives on a Tuesday morning at 10am. It doesn’t leave room to just spend an afternoon making up games on the patio on top of the finca, or lying in bed for hours in a purple room talking to someone like you’re talking to yourself. But taking the time to view people in their lives at these moment allows you to exist in alternative time and see people in their private unguarded ways. I feel flooded and freed by all the stories I took part in over these past 5 months and 30 beds. All the narratives hold a part of me, it may be that I want to continue to write the story or I don’t know why I was ever there, but I am better for every single place I laid my head.

I’m swelling and these stories are my helium, but unlike a balloon my skin is proving to be infinitely elastic.

WWOOF España: Finding Peace in the Finca

So my last post was all about a wwoof experience gone completely awry. In the true contrarian habit of life and travel, I now want to write about one that gets it right.





A week after leaving the farm in Yecla. I got on a bus from Malaga to Torrox exhausted from sleepless noisy hostels, but as usual optimistic. Two fellow Americans were waiting for me at the bus stop. Their last place of residency was also NY; I was really surprised to find two other Brooklyn residents, (not native) in this rural part of Spain. I don’t remember much from that short car ride, just fleeting thoughts that the open air and windy dusty roads were a good start. I walk through the doors of a stunning Spanish villa and am transported back to England. There are 10 other people standing in the living room, all from the UK, except the two other Americans. They are all smiles and, “Are you ok?” I stand there somewhat consciously trying to grapple my head around all the people and their places here. Eventually all the pieces come together and I figure out who the hosts are, who are visiting family members, who are past and present wwoofers; who stays and who goes.

I was at Finca La Paz for a little under a month and the shifting of wwoofers, and visitors, and friends was consistent and played a huge part in my stay. But what played a larger role was the finca, the land, the garden; and what I could find there. The garden has been up and running for about six years and in the last two years or so a permaculture design and practice has been more rigorously implemented.  There were 12 huertos, vegetable beds, and over 60 different fruit trees not including dozens of olive trees. I could spend a post on each vegetable bed I think, expect for two and seven. Two just had asparagus that we just looked at in confusion for the first two weeks or so and eventually started watering twice a day. Bed seven just had sweet potato whose irrigation got turned off so they looked a little maltreated. But I spent a few hours weeding and mulching and with the irrigation back on in 10 only days or so they looked grateful for being remembered.



So permaculture is basically using nature with nature and not against itself. No spraying of pesticides, no extreme use of fossil fuels, only for the strimmer. We don’t just weed carelessly and profusely, rather we pull weeds and mulch, using them around vegetables and fruits to protect the soil from the drying tendencies of the wind and the sun. There are no chemical fertilizers, but the soil in the south of Spain is extremely dry so once a week there is a plant feed. There are four different types of fertilizers we used: potassium, nitrogen, iron, and manure water. The potassium is made up of ash from the fire place mixed with water. The nitrogen water is made of these weeds called stinging nettles. Their name is pretty self- explanatory, if you touch them with your bare hands you feel this burning, stinging sensation for about 10 minutes then it goes away. There was an agave plant that really helped for the impatient, like me. Mush up the stinging nettles and add water for nitrogen water. The iron water is made up of old pieces of iron soaked in the water and the sun for ages. Add more water, get more iron water. Manure water is exactly how it sounds. Let manure, a pretty horses’ or handsome donkeys’, sit in a tub for about a year so it becomes all liquid and gross-ish, and then it’s like Herminoe waved a piece of wood around, or time just passed, either way it’s manure water. All that is needed is a thin layer of feed into a watering can and then it is fully diluted with water.

A wwoofer veteran who has been coming to finca la paz every winter for four years left a manual behind with all the rules and guides of what to do; connecting huerto  to huerto. He wrote some lovely quotes one is, “Trust mother nature she knows how to take care of herself better than you do.” I guess that is what permaculture is, it is acknowledging the fact that the natural forest thrives and lives so well without human interaction. To use nature for cultivation we should follow the model she has set.


Now in our oil drenched, energy obsessed age of comfort that is easier said than done. There are all these things we need. But besides that we have processed nature so far from herself it will take a few years for her to get her groove back. When she does, we may have to change a few of these needs to not cramp her style too much. Long hot showers, high toilet paper usage, non-local diets, electricity and running water for days. If we think about the source of many things we find “normal” well they are actually quite luxurious. If we think of the amount of energy and water is used for flushing toilets, running water while washing dishes, fully lite homes in the nighttime, and having excess food waste (as I am guilty of as someone pointed out because I tend to leave a bite behind), it isn’t permaculture. It isn’t using nature the way it was intended to be use. But baby-steps, this isn’t a sprint.




Every week I spent at finca la paz was like taking baby steps; in my mind, intellect, and emotions. My knowledge of the garden and my familiarity with what the plants needed and liked slowly grew. Getting to know the chickens better and looking after them. Making a compost heap with brown and green matter. Planting baby tomato and basil plants with another wwoofer and watching both relationships grow. Coming from an experience that left my guard sky high and slowly letting the daily tasks and the sun melt it down. Like putting straw under strawberries to keep the slugs from munching into them as the sun burned into my muscles. Or carrying sacks of heavy manure up and down the hill in the garden. Harvesting lettuce, oranges, avocadoes, swiss chard, arugula, strawberries, onions, calbrese, broccoli, and many more food items for our lunches and dinners. Skipping down to the chicken house to collect eggs every evening around sunset. Eventually I started to find my equilibrium and optimism in my tasks and the people around me in a balance unlike I have ever had before.

It wasn’t that I was always comfortable or always felt amazing, rather multiple times in a day I felt so present. Now thinking back on it what dragged my emotions in all sorts of turny ways didn’t have to do with the garden. Working there gave mIMG_1515e a calm presentness that can only be truly recognized when it’s gone. But I did appreciate it along the way; at the point when I turned off my knee-jerk reaction to run and seek for who knows what, I saw how truly amazing it all was.


Another quote from our garden guide, “You can cut down all the flowers, but you can’t cut down the spring.” There is this consistent renewal of energy in nature that is just there, pulsing, driving, procuring, coming. It can’t be stopped. Pain can be felt and others can try to put you down or attempt to take pieces of you from yourself; but each of us as individuals and collectively are a force of ourselves that cannot be stopped. To be immersed in the beauty of that left me feeling aided in the pursuit of my life, I guess, or something of the sort. It is just an energy that cannot be defined.


WWOOF España: Cuando las cosas se Desmoronan

I don’t want to write this story, but I feel unsure how to move forward with this online journal of mine without telling it. So here it is.  I arrived at a farm in Yecla, Spain on Feburary 21st. I was told before that there would be a man named Justo on the farm and other wwoofers. My bus pulls into the station at about 11pm and Justo was there waiting for me. He spoke only Spanish, but really slow Spanish which I was grateful for; my Spanish has been slowly improving but it’s nowhere near fluency. In the car on the way to his house he mentioned something about another pueblo or house and how I could ride a bike to go there. I just learned how to ride a bike recently (I know, no judgments please) and was nervous that there was a lot of travel for work. So I asked a question about if there is a lot of work at this other house. He obviously misunderstood and said this isn’t a hotel. I immediately felt uncomfortable, offended, and honestly a little bad about wwoofer reputation that he just met me and felt the need to remind me that his home isn’t a hotel.

The next day when there were only two places set for breakfast I realized that there were no other wwoofers. I was looking forward to working with people, but was pretty indifferent at the same time, it is just how things go. He has a beautiful home there is a patio in the middle of it where the sun or stars can shine down. It is in the shape of a square and opposite the main house are two spare rooms where the wwoofers sleep. The bedroom was made up of a mat with a sleeping bag, a bathroom, and no heat. In the back of the house was a huge garden with lots of plants covered with mulch next to rows of broccoli, lettuce, garbanzo beans. Lots of nice green things. We gathered vegetables for lunch and headed to “el campo.” Where we worked is about a 7 minute drive from the house and basically the whole time I was there we were putting up fences to protect the almond trees from the rabbits. The work was monotonous, physical, and a bit technical. Also the weather was really cold and windy. But it was good, I like the feeling of being physically exhausted and then eating the healthy slow food. I felt great. When we return to the house for dinner I felt that Justo had become more comfortable with me.  He started sharing his opinions about all the problems in the world, and about how America, New York in particular, is the devil’s home etc. I have my own feelings about my home city and country from personal, social, and political perspectives. My opinions are not more valid than another persons; but it is difficult to listen to someone speak with so much authority on a place they have never even been. At first it was a conversation between similarly minded people. But it soon became a lecture about everything, particularly food. He went onto say food is so important and he understands this more than other people and how what he grew was far superior to everything. I understood what he meant but I also thought of all those farms in Ireland I saw and how I met so many people who were actively living lives off the grid. No use of fossils fuels, limited use of supermarkets and who composted everything, down to their own poop. I was confused and tired and just waiting impatiently for my exit.

The next few days were about the same. The same demanding work, the same organic food, and Justo’s attitude remained the same but became more difficult as the complaining and judging became more insistent. He would say how his whole life is a lot of work and no one else wants to work, no other life is as difficult as his. How he wants to change the world with his almond trees and organic food. How the wwoofers come from big cities and they don’t work enough and having them is more work for him. How wwoofers don’t respect his life. Also how everyone kept leaving. How no one wanted to work as hard for a brighter future. How no one cared as much as he did. Sometime in the middle of my stay I finally said, I thought that the work was fine, that the food was good but that the energy was really negative and heavy. And that I felt he had many great facets to his life here but that it doesn’t matter if it isn’t a place people want to live. I said that for him to get what he wanted he couldn’t expect everyone who came here to be who he wanted them to be. That he would have to change as well. He said he heard me but then I think he just started resenting that exact thing about everyone. No one was him; therefore, everyone was somehow less.

Things just got harder. The next Friday, after we finished working I was looking forward to running away to my cold room. But he started talking about not having wwoofers anymore and how he was just alone. He basically reiterated all the negative things he had said previously. I went and took a shower and stayed in my room the rest of the evening not even resurfacing for dinner. The next day was the same, he was quiet. I ate breakfast and was off for the day, so I take a bike ride. I came back and helped him in the garden a bit before lunch. We ate in silence for the most part, then I mention something my brother told me about the soil on Church Ave in Brooklyn. They were going to grow something but the soil was so bad from years of pollution that is was impossible. I just said it to say something really and to talk about sustainability and hopefully lead to something about alternative ideas of growing food in NYC. A few moments later he said, “I am sad today.” I really didn’t want to but of course I said “Por que?”

He went on to say how he is dead, how the world is dead, and how everyone thinks everything is far away. The soil in NYC, the war in Iraq, Hiroshima, all these things are far away and everything is dead. He said he can stay in his little oasis and nothing can be done about the rest of the world. The energy has stopped, and he is already dead. I try to say something, and he cuts me off, “You and me no talky talky.” He went on to say, “Tu tienes no problemas, you are good, you are fine.” I was  infuriated I had confided in him things about me and what my life has been like. How my father works 7 days a week, how the people he blames for ruining the world also affect the people in America, in NYC, and how I know people who struggle every day to make ends meet, just the same as him. Not everyone can work the land, not everyone is concerned with the making of food, but that doesn’t make them less than him. That last day he just seemed to see his life and nothing else outside of it.

I see this as the problem. The people in suits have no idea about his life and the struggles he faces. And he dismiss everyone who doesn’t have the same values as him. There is no communication, no understanding, and no balance. It doesn’t matter what you do or what your cause is if you’re not willing to integrate your ideas in the reality of our distorted world. No one will hear you and no one will want to be a part of want you want to create.

He goes on ignoring me and saying he is dead. I left shaking. Of all the farms in Spain how the hell did I end up here? I also think he is right. Wwoofers, people, me, a lot of time we use words and not as many actions. Even wwoofers, I mean I have only met a few but not all of them want to change the world they seem to just want an escape and are looking for people who will facilitate that. I sit there thinking ok, I can see what he is saying, but why does he refuse to see me? I went back and asked him if he wants me to leave, he said no, “Es tu casa.” I leave. He comes back and says maybe I should leave and goes on and on, its so much Spanish and my effort to understand dwindles all I hear, “Muerte, todo est muerte.” He has so much and he doesn’t see, he can’t change the world if he can’t even find happiness in the one he has created. He finally leaft to go to el campo. When he came back I ask him when I should leave, he doesn’t respond. I said there are buses tomorrow. “Si, manana major.” Fine. I showed him the bus times and he says, “Que? Am I a taxi?” I prepare the food, I do this and that. At that point I started to cry, is he actually saying I don’t work right now? I said I am not a bad person or a bad worker and he knows this, he had given me many compliments about my work before. He just says you don’t help enough with the food. “Lo siento,” I throw my hands in the air and leave. I go to my room shivering and crying. Then I stopped, this is just life after all.

I packed up my stuff. In the morning I woke up really early to make the first bus, got my things together and left. I said to him good-bye. “Gracias, buenas suerte en su vida.” He wished me the same. I start the 1.5 hour walk to the bus with about 22kg (48lbs) of stuff. I try to hitch but no one would pick me up. I think I felt almost every emotion on that walk to the bus. As I was leaving, I think I was a bit numb, in shock of the situation. Then I started to want to cry. Then I felt grateful, for my strength. That for some reason even though life keeps handing me shit I don’t break down. Then I started thinking about how bad is this truly. For centuries people have been exiled from their land and have had to walk toward new lives. People have walked much further with much more baggage. People have dealt with so much more difficult situations than I have. But in the world I live in, having a bad hair day can ruin your week. Someone leaving you can ruin your decade. To the people I know what happened to me is basically the worst thing that could happen outside physical pain/ death. I thought about that. I thought a lot about my last few days there, replaying our conversations in my head. I thought about how I am not mad; how I felt disbelief about the situation. But also how I felt really bad for him, he must be so sad in his life to treat me like this. I thought about how much this sucks, but this is a part of life and worst things will happen. I mean good things will happen too, and there will be times when nothing happens. I eventually get on the bus and my whole body collapses in exhaustion. As we drive out of Yecla, I thought it is only 9:30am and it’s already over.

My mind continued to write the story way after I sat on that bus. But eventually the script stops, the story integrates among all the other stories told and untold. Life just goes on.

Berlin Daze

Berlin Daze

Berlin was cray-cray. But right now I want to focus on the sanity. I went to Mauerpark flea market the Sunday I was in Berlin. And I lost my friend for almost an hour while it was ice raining, but that is besides the point. I went into a book stand and saw a section of English books and a title that started, “The Abortion:” and finished, “An Historical Romance 1966,” caught my eye. It is by Richard Brautigan and I’ve never heard of him but as I perused the reviews I saw that he was compared to Vonnegut and that is gold to me. So I went to go pay and the very nice looking sales guy told me a bit about his life; apparently Brautigan is very famous and one of his favorite authors, and he got this book when he spent a summer in San Francisco.

Side note: I find it incredible that I meet so many people who life stories expand outside of the country they were born. Many people I have met spent summers here, years there, had really random jobs down under, and it is so casual. And then it surprises me to realize I am one of those people.

After I bought the book, he somewhat bashfully gives me a card deck lay out of post-it notes, everyone who buys a book receives a fortune. I was so excited and thought I really need to actually purchase things at markets more frequently. The writing is in German but translates to, “Don’t hide from the things of life into love. But don’t hide from love into the things of life.” I smiled and walked away trying to not forget it but of course I did and had it translated again at a coffee shop.

It reminds me of a Yeats quote or end of a poem rather, my friend recently sent me.

“A mermaid found a swimming lad, picked him for her own
Pressed her body to his body
Laughed; and plunging down
Forgot in cruel happiness, that even lovers drown.”

Two somewhat cautious ideas about love and life. Referring to the post-it, even if it isn’t love we hide behind, perhaps it is our principals, we all have a crutch we use to hid from our life when we are afraid or unsure. And touching on Yeats, it is important to note that love or whatever that thing is we seek can as easily be our fall as our saving grace. I guess both quotes really call for balance. Balance is good and all, but being  good and safe, aren’t always the best ways to live. Sometimes things are really up and sometimes situations have me down, but then I put on my rational face and look at things and realize I am fine. Like 95% of the time, if I am being rational and clear-headed my life is fine, my concerns do not really hurt me. I mean it is not a bad thing but it’s not really a good thing either. Maybe it is time to get so lost in something, I drown. Or maybe I shouldn’t. There are no answers just some musings over words.

Where The Magic Is


Everything I am immersed in while travelling is unfamiliar. After a while the unfamiliarity can have this numbing affect. The newness is more of a passing thought, “Oh this is so beautiful,” “Nice to meet you,” as the new faces and places pass by. But in realization of these small moments is where travel magic lies.

I was just in Berlin with a friend from high school, the type of friend where words are like vomit and you’re looking at pieces you’re not sure you ate. We were talking about connections and the big and small moments of our travels. I think with all the bumps along the road I forgot what my travel connections were made of.

There aren’t always BIG moments. Being in Ireland was so different and so much of everything I was looking for that is was made of many small GRAND moments that were easy to share and see. My New Years was one of the most entertaining and unforgettable evenings/ mornings I have ever had. What happened in Scotland really separates me out from the rest. In those stories lie the GRANDEUR of travel. But travelling is still life and life on the road isn’t automatically a different life, it is still my life. Even in LARGENESS I sometimes express disconnect, I am working on my grass is always greener outlook. Basically I’m saying looking for a diamond is pointless in a sea of jewels.

Today I landed in Madrid, and I have been so excited to get to Spain. I quickly realize no one speaks English, at all, not even a “I don’t speak English.” Just a “No,” then very fast Spanish. I use extremely bad Spanish to get around, but with many hand movements and picking up so some key words, I’m ok. After an hour of walking with my laptop backpack weighing down on my shoulders I arrive at what I believe is Retiro’s park just because it screams splendor. I collapse on a bench exhausted and turn my face to the sun feeling the warmth wash over me. Everything in my body felt the tension of lack of sleep and lots of walking and then slowly I relaxed, like you do when sinking into a comfortable bed after a really long day. I keep my eyes closed for awhile and when I feel the sun shift I open them and stare at the black/brown branches against the blue mostly cloudless sky. I heard runners sneakers crunching on the sidewalk and birds being birds. I thought this is where my travel magic lies. In the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday I can really feel this park the way I never could feel the piece of grass I awkwardly sat in on my lunch hour, really 42 minutes, while I was working my 9-5. I can take this moment and let it wash over me, through me, and understand a piece of something.

For some people travel lie in the ridiculous stories of nights out and adventures with strangers you meet at the hostels. For me it is that too, but mostly it isn’t. That isn’t why I set out to do this.

For me it lies in hitchhiking for the first time and having the young dad who picked us up ask me for advice about motivating his daughter.  It is meeting a boy on a plane and becoming the type of friends who get coffee and update each other on our lives.    It is trying every vegan restaurant in Glasgow.                  It is moving hay for three hours.    It is listening to French rap in a gorgeous flat in Brussels with a guy I met two years ago.       It is being at a birthday party in Holland and connecting with a woman who invites me to her home for the summer.    It is being in a club in Berlin and having strangers touch you.        It is spending three weeks with a girl non-stop and missing her when she leaves.      It is having someone tell me I’m a “stay”  people.    It is eating vegan for 5 days.     It is spending three hours trying to get two donkeys back behind the gate.  It is touching knees with strangers who don’t speak my language.    It is walking a horse on a dark road with trucks and cars driving by.       It is getting shown way too many youtube videos and me trying to escape in a one room flat.            It is watching a lot of movie classics.         It is not wearing a bra for two weeks.       It is really not liking a girl then completely changing my opinion about her and actively seeing that no, I do not know all.     It is doing yoga in front of a burning fire.      It is watching my friend sing at an open mic in Manchester and being her manager for a night.            It is cutting down my own Christmas tree.       It is getting into all 5 grad schools I applied to.    It is being surrounded by pink moss and tall green trees. It is being in the evolution of a 5 day relationship.     It is being on a farm by myself for a day and realizing I knew how to do everything and really feeling proud and relaxed.     It is being honest.     It is mediating for the first time and crying afterwards and having a friend of nine years hug me.

It is travelling for 9 hours and seeing the smiling face of a person I just met but feel really safe with.

These moments and many, many more like these fulfill my travels. These are the moments that I will remember along with the LARGE ones. They aren’t all HUGE stories of romance and scandal, rather quiet exploration that is LOUD to me. In the end the BIGNESS is in the small, and that makes me happy.

Moments On The Road

I just read my dear friends’ blog post Goodbye to All That. She is famous in the WordPress community and I always watch in awe as her words and photographs reach so many people. Every once in a while we would meet in DC or NY. She would come by bouncing with disheveled hair, headphones in, and a recommendation of what we should cook or which restaurant we should go to. Then we would sit for hours, way after the food and drinks have been finished, and attempt to describe ourselves with our wishes, desires, observations; I like to think we said almost everything. We would come up with brilliant phrases that we didn’t write down and would then forget because we just kept going and going. No phrase could answer our questions, our words would be lucky if they flirted onto any part of it. I think it was difficult for us because we are hyper-aware that these anxieties we feel do not compare with poverty, famine, poor water supplies, and disease that many people face. Our problems come from a society we view as numb. I think I can say for both of us, we were looking for a way to feel again.

I am in Brussels now, I came here to visit a friend; and it hasn’t been the way I thought it would be, the way I wanted it to be.  At first I was really at odds with the situation. Partly because I miss the farm, I am missing the woods I could disappear into and find my reflection. But the longer I stay here the easier it is for me to enjoy the way it is rather than the way I wanted it to be.

Traveling isn’t a magic potion. It doesn’t automatically make you happier; rather it offers you the tools to better choose for yourself.  There are beautiful things to see, different food to try, here in Brussels amazing beer, and the people. I think travel allows you to shed a layer of yourself. It is not that you so easily find yourself, as it goes; but for me it is that I seem to remain in a sponge- like form. I am open to everything and anything that comes into my company and that expands the definition of who I am. I have had doubts, anxieties, worries over my choices, an annoying trait I’m trying to get rid of, been frustrated, and disappointed so far on this trip. But regardless of each of those emotions at the end of the day I’m happy. This is the only thing I wanted to do, this is the only place I want to be. And I am feeling all of it.