Two months ago today, I landed in Cork, Ireland to begin my year of solo travels. My body feels like it’s been a long time, but my heart is still eager for so much more. So what have I learned and lost and found and loved so far?
- Ten whole words of Greek and a growing familiarity with the Greek alphabet. I recently puzzled out Assyrtico on a wine list and felt like a powerful sorceress. This plus a bunch of French.
- Nothing in the world makes me feel as peaceful and sane and whole as the sea.
- A regular yoga practice is important if you’re 33 and still occasionally climbing out of hostel bunks and sleeping on ferries.
- Big cities make me feel alive and free. And sometimes anxious too, but never bored.
- A skirt and a pair of pajamas, and a sports bra for all those runs I never took. Walking 10-12 miles a day has been enough.
- Any sense of what day of the week it is, at all times.
- The ability to spring out of bed at 5:15 am every morning and work out for an hour every single day.
- 10 pounds, according to the first scale I’ve seen in my travels.
- A clearer sense of what drives me in life: Art. Beauty. History. Curiosity about other people and other lives and other places.
- My tolerance level for bus rides: it’s 2.5 hours until I want to throw up while also screaming from boredom (I can’t read or watch anything on a bus or in a car).
- I actually have a decent sense of direction, except when very tired. Then I will do three full loops of a small downtown, looking for a restaurant that’s in front of my eyes (my life, yesterday).
- €.50 in a bus ticket kiosk in Crete. That was a big day.
- My friends, my family, my bed, and my cat. Watching my nephew and nieces grow, and celebrating happy times with my family and supporting my friends in hard ones.
- The ability to do laundry whenever I want. And the ability to not think about laundry at least once a day. I got on the bus today with a German guy who was cute but smelled like BO that’s been festering for weeks in a small cave filled with more sweat and possibly rotting onions, and I never want someone to think that about me. So I do a lot of laundry.
- Dunkin’ Donuts (for real, this is a deep hole in my heart, I will not apologize).
- Having more than three outfits, and more than two makeup looks (with or without red lips are my current choices). This is actually probably number one, maybe above the cat. God I miss clothes.
- The independence and confidence I feel growing in myself every day. If I can interpret a Greek wine list today, what amazing things can I do tomorrow?
- The people I’ve met so far: kind, open-hearted, curious, joyful, and interesting. The world is a big and beautiful place. Except for French supermarket cashiers, who are the grumpiest people I’ve ever encountered.
- Not having to open a computer even once. No distribution list nightmares or email server crashes (my internal comms peeps feel me on that one).
- Having so much precious, fleeting, ever-advancing time. Never saying “oh I’m just sooo busy” to anyone. Traveling slowly. Doing a whole bunch of nothing a lot, in between all the adventures. It’s good for the soul.
My biggest takeaway from this trip so far?
It’s hard and it’s scary and it’s lonesome sometimes, but it’s worth all of it.
I’m really, really fucking proud of myself for doing this.