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.
So right now I am sitting in a student dorm in Edinburgh, with this lovely boy I met on the plane ride here from Dublin. This week has been full of surprising twists. So backing up to Saturday, the plan of this week was to be in Edinburgh for one day and then go to the Highlands for the week. But as soon as I arrived in Edinburgh I got an email from my mind my house host saying she is in the hospital from an asthma attack and she isn’t sure when she will be out. So I immediately begin wracking my brain for a second option my couch surfing host welcomes me to stay the rest of the week and I plan to go to Glasgow for the weekend to fill the rest of the time. I take this unexpected twist as an equally great a path to travel and spend time walking around the city and all its lovely coffee shops and windy roads.
Yesterday I found I got into the University of Edinburgh! I am so happy about it, I love this city and I being here feels right to me. Earlier today I met with the director of my program and it went great and I left and got lunch with my new friend and just felt the feeling of things being alright. We go to the library so I can attempt to blog, blogging is literally and pathetically on my to-do list every day.
I open up my Facebook to find that the girl that hosted me last month in Ireland via couch surfing had passed away. Her brother sent me a super simple message saying there was an accident and she is no longer with us and wishing me well. That was it. I had a tangerine half in my mouth and I stopped mid –chew and my friend stared at me asking what was wrong and I didn’t know what to say or how to react I just kept re-reading the message trying to figure out what to do with the tangerine in my mouth and saying I’m sorry and stuttering and I finally said it out loud and I couldn’t believe it even as I said it. I immediately go to call the girl I had couch-surfed with and we sat together on Gmail not knowing what to say and not understanding what we read.
I stayed at her house just two nights one weekend and then one night randomly the next weekend. I had just texted her on New Years Eve. I hardly knew her, but I know her, we spent time together and that means something. And now she is gone.
I haven’t experienced much death in my life, and I know that will change, death will be a part of my life as it is a part of everyone’s. This introduction was just odd. It touched upon my choices; to travel, and couch surf, and to enter into all of these people’s lives even if only for a moment. It isn’t that the more I gain the more I can lose but rather that lost can be so easily found among everything. The wider my net is cast the more I bring into me, good or bad.
So now I am sitting here in this dorm, a YouTube mix is droning in the background, my new friend is making diner and I am writing this seeking the best medium for me to work my way through this. Thinking of her brother and her family and then all the inconsequential things of my life… Another person is about to arrive and I’ll just keep moving, casting my net, and dealing with all the things that stick.