Feelings Since Coming Home

I. Am. Bored. I thought I would enjoy doing nothing and relaxing before school starts, but going from doing so much for three months to doing absolutely nothing is making me go a little insane. I almost wish I could access my course schedules so I could get a head start on reading or something to keep me productively occupied.

 

The funny thing about being home is that nothing has changed except for me. Everything is and was exactly where I left it. My job, my bedroom, the beach, my family, the traffic, it is all the same – only I have changed.

 

I have been home for officially a week and it has taken me just about that amount of time to realize that I actually have changed. I didn’t think I did while I was away. It took coming home to realize how much I had changed while I was away because I didn’t feel the change happening. I think a lot of my restlessness comes from not being used to actually doing nothing except for a few serving shifts every week. Before I left for Europe 3 months ago, I was a full-time student, working, and planning for the trip of a lifetime. I was busy. I haven’t known boredom and doing nothing for a long time, it seems. It’s weird waking up every day, not having to do anything, nothing to explore. Not walking out of a hostel to a new city, surrounded by new people.

 

It’s weird going from travel mode to being at home, no longer a tourist. As a solo traveler, you have to talk to people. Socialize. There’s almost always someone to talk to. Traveling alone definitely brought me out of my shell. But at home, I’ve crawled right back into it. I don’t know many people here. I don’t have many friends who are right here. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. But not having anyone to socialize with definitely contributes to my boredom.

 

Yesterday I was on the beach feeling a little restless. It wasn’t how I wanted to feel in my favorite place. It took me a little while to allow myself to enjoy the nothingness again – to enjoy the way I used to feel when sitting along the shore.

 

Just like while traveling, I have to remind myself to enjoy the present moment. Life moves by fast. Appreciate every moment. Don’t take the time you have where you are for granted because as soon as you leave you’ll long to be there again. Never stop enjoying. Don’t forget how to enjoy what you used to enjoy because it is enjoyment nonetheless. Get out of your head. Pay attention.

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Energized and Exhausted All at Once

Leaving to go home is just as surreal as coming here was, except at home I will at least know what to expect. 

My last days were spent doing relatively nothing. I am not necessarily tired of traveling, but I am tired of being a tourist. Doing touristic things. Surrounded by people who have no self awareness or know how to walk. If/when I do this again, I don’t want to be a tourist in the summer; I want it to be off season – less people, less heat, less money. 

When I got to London on Saturday, I napped and rode the metro around a bit and made my way to see Big Ben. It was right beside me the second I got off the metro. I tried to make my way down the street to Buckingham Palace, but the streets were so packed you could barely walk. It just wasn’t what I was in the mood for, and I don’t regret not taking advantage of my time there. 

I am more excited to go home than I ever imagined I would be. I am looking forward to going back to work and making money. I am looking forward to going back to school. I truly do feel energized. I’m ready. I took my time off and I’m ready to jump back in, full force. It’s going to be an incredibly busy semester, but I have never felt more ready, and I couldn’t be happier about that. 

Doing this… looking back on it… I can’t believe I really did it. I got through it. And it was so easy. It was so much easier than I thought it would be. And I’m so excited to do it again one day, but totally differently. If this experience and life in general have taught me anything it is that I can literally do whatever I want. Whatever I set my mind to. 

I was talking to a girl from back home who is only a year younger than me, who is struggling with where she is in life and has a lot to figure out. I gave her a brief insight into my life and what I’ve overcome. I look back at the worst times in my life, getting into serious trouble, dating the worst people, not caring about myself or my education, and I think back to that person and sometimes I can’t really believe it was me. It’s like speaking in third person. She did this. She did that. She had a bad reputation. But it was all me. I did those things. I had a bad reputation. But I’m not that person anymore. I’ve come so far. And now I’ve seen so much. I’ve been to so many places. I’ve experienced different cultures and have fallen in love with them. And I love my life. 

If you were to tell me this is what I would be doing five years ago, I would have called bullshit. But so much has happened in five years. I thought I had been through it all when I was only 17 but it was only just the beginning. My childhood and adolescence were the worst times of my life but I am so thankful for the experience and the hurdles I have had to jump over. Not a lot has been straight up given to me. I’ve had to earn it all. I am more thankful for my shitty childhood than most people ever would be because I have moved on from it and I have grown from it. I don’t linger in the past. And no matter how much I complain and bitch, I really do love my life and the way that I am living it.

On this journey I have met so many people. So many ages from so many places, traveling for their own reasons. And it has inspired me in so many ways. Some people work in hostels for accommodation, some do other farming jobs or workaways, and I have learned so much from these people and what they do. There are so many ways to travel the world and the world needs more curious people. 

I loved seeing so much in so much time but I am already looking forward to coming back so I can do things so much differently. I didn’t know what I was in for and I didn’t know about the number of opportunities there are out here. I can’t wait to spend more time in fewer places. Return to some places and see even more. But I am definitely ready to go back home for now. I am energized and exhausted all at once. Energized for life but exhausted from constantly moving around. I miss a routine. And one day I will create a routine in a country over here. But until then… school will come first. And I will enjoy my days on the beach. Loving life. As always.

1 week left in a 3 month journey 

Being in places you’ve only ever seen pictures of is surreal. Being on a different continent for 3 months and living in hostels has been surreal. I already miss the places that I visited 2 months ago. I miss the places I visited a week ago. And in a week, I’ll be missing it all. 

3 months has flown by. I have learned more about the world and myself in three months than I could have in a lifetime. I have learned to depend on only myself. I have learned to trust my instincts. I have learned that people in this world are generally kind and willing to help you. I have learned a lot about patience. I have learned a lot about pace. Moving at the right one. Giving myself time to enjoy and take in my environments. I have learned to value myself.

If I can make any promise to myself, it is to not let myself become distracted or to distract myself in unhealthy ways. I want to live for myself and improve myself. I want to create strong bonds built on realistic expectations rather than weak promises by people who just don’t care. 

I think I know exactly what I want from my life. It’s hard to not let people, their beliefs, and their opinions get in the way of what I know I want. It’s hard not to let the meager prospect of love or a relationship blind me and erase my dreams. Everything that is meant to happen will happen and one day I will find exactly what I’m looking for.

When I graduate from university in December of 2018, I want to move to the south of Spain and teach English as a foreign language for at least a year. I want to do that for myself. To learn Spanish. To be where I want to be in a country that I know I loved. I want to live in a beautiful place without living out of a backpack with packing cubes and dirty clothes. 

Traveling has made me realize how big this world is and how much there is to do in it. It’s overwhelming. How many opportunities there are and how much I can do. I love where I live but why stay in one place? 

I think the reason I miss home so much is because it is what it is – home. I know its quirks. I know where to go for empty beaches. I know the traffic times to avoid. It’s home. But I can make a home anywhere. I have moved from where I’ve grown up thinking I would never be able to start over. But I started over in New York. I started over in Florida. And in those moments, that was the best thing for me. The only way to see how far you can go is to go somewhere. Test yourself. Don’t let anything get in your way.

The Simplicity of Home

I love where I live. That’s no secret. The beach is where I spend a lot of my time, waiting for the sun to set. I spend hours and hours sitting on the seashore. Sometimes reading. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing. I figured while I traveled I would get my fix of beaches elsewhere. The coasts of Ireland, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece were all beautiful in their own ways. I enjoyed being there and appreciated their beauties. But it isn’t the same.

The beauty of being home is knowing where to go to escape the crowds. But here I am a tourist. In some places my time has been limited. I haven’t been able to truly appreciate my solitude along the shore. Nowhere has managed to give me the same feeling I get when I am back home, sitting on my blanket, watching the waves crash, with no one around me as day turns to night. Sun setting, moon rising.

I miss and love the powder, white sand. The small crabs that pop out of their holes, watching me intently. The birds that fly by and stare at the sea the same way I do. Living in Florida for the last three years has changed me. I never imagined such a positive impact. To have such a relationship with nature. I love the shore more than anything. And no matter where I am, or how beautiful it is, nowhere gives me the same feeling I get when I am back home. Because that is where I became who I am. That’s what I miss the most. The calm feeling, the simplicity of home. 

Old Habits Die Hard // Expectations Ruin Reality 

I went from a tired mind of school and work and school and work to hostels, bars, and sight seeing. Something different everyday but somehow almost the same. I was definitely more social when I first started my trip as opposed to now. I would go on pub crawl after pub crawl. I would try to involve myself as often as I could, as if I weren’t comfortable being alone, but I always was. With a slower pace, I am more alone, and I enjoy it. I don’t feel obligated to do anything or see anything or socialize, because let’s be real, I’m just not the most social person in the world most of the time. Even back home, I hang out with maybe 3 people outside of work and school. I’ll go out every so often but I don’t party until 3 or 4am. I relate closer to a grandma than I do a person my own age. When I first started traveling, I was excited and social, but no matter what, old habits die hard, and I am forever an introvert living in a very social world. I don’t socialize out of obligation at this point on my trip, and I don’t do anything because I feel like I “have to” or would be missing out if I didn’t. A lot of people come to these big cities to party. I came to enjoy myself in food and culture, without necessarily getting hammered every night of the week.
And I’m enjoying myself. I might even be enjoying myself more now than I did when I started my trip. I’ve gotten into a nice groove all by myself. I enjoy planning my days according to myself, my budget, and my energy. I’m comfortable going into a bar by myself and sitting there with a beer and perhaps a journal to jot down some thoughts in. Limited amounts of social energy is a real thing and I find it more than necessary to recharge frequently. If I don’t, I get physically and emotionally tired. Reserved and inattentive. And I’m comfortable doing everything alone. Even sight seeing. I don’t need someone with me and if I want to socialize, then I will. 

Last night I went to a cool, underground bar in Prague. I had asked my walking tour guide for a good place to drink a beer that isn’t loaded with tourists and he recommended it. He said it wasn’t necessarily full of tourists, but not necessarily locals either – a lot of people from all over the place who moved to Prague and work there, or travelers. So I went. When you walk in, there’s a black metal gate door restricting you from walking right downstairs. You get a “chip” bracelet that you put money on and then you order beer or any other drink based off of how much money is on your chip, and if you run out, you just run upstairs and reload it. 
I put 100CZK on my chip, figuring I wouldn’t be there for more than 2 beers (most beers are 35-50CZK) and the guy buzzed me through the gate. I walked through and was met with darkness and stairs. “Downstairs?” I stupidly asked, because there were literally only one set of stairs. He joked and said “no, upstairs” and I made my way down. At the bottom of the first set of stairs was a big Irish wolfhound, laying there, uninterested in me passing by. At the bottom of the second set of stairs were a few old swings, to the right a brightly lit room with foosball tables, and to the left was darkness with some LED lights. I walked down the hall and found a “tea” bar and looked confused. An old man was sitting next to it and I said, “beer?” And he smiled and pointed down the hall. I got my beer and found a seat in the main area; it was early so it was pretty empty. There were two people sitting on stage, one playing guitar, and then a few other people just sitting and chatting. I sat there, sipping my beer, writing. As I finished my first beer and went up for my second, more people were slowly starting to pour in. One of the girls close to me was definitely an American, so when the other two people she was sitting with left, I asked her where she was from. 
We ended up talking for a while, and then more people came over to talk to us, and I ended up reloading my chip for more beer. On the other side of the bar was live music and I didn’t even notice it until the few people I was with all decided to wander around. Oddly enough I ended up meeting more Americans than anything else, but it still wasn’t that touristy. The Czechs talked to each other, and the English speakers talked to each other. Before I knew it, it was midnight, and I think I ended up walking home around 1. The bar was very close to my hostel, so before I headed inside, I grabbed some chips and took a seat outside. A homeless man decided to lay down right next to me before security took him away. 
For a city that I didn’t plan on going out in, on a night that I didn’t plan on staying out, and for desiring my alone time, I had the best time. I think the best things happen when you don’t want them to, or expect them to. 
Everything happens when you least expect it. Expectations always ruin living. 

The Simple Moments 

I have always lived a simple life. And the moments I enjoy the most while traveling are the most simple, living the way the locals live. Sipping on a flat white in Dublin, while eating a mile high lemon meringue tart and writing. Walking in the rain in Killarney National Park and finding myself in the greenest of woods. Eating a monstrous fish n chips in Dingle with a girl I had just met on the bus, overwhelmed at the portion of food in front of me. Sitting in a square full of students, cheap sangria in hand, feeling no different than the people I was surrounded by. Scarfing down a warm pastei de bellum after tearing packets of powdered sugar and cinnamon with my teeth in the middle of the street. Sitting in a bar where the students go in Sevilla, eating cheap appetizers of ham, cheese, and calamari, drinking endless supplies of cold, cheap buckets of beer. Sitting in the street at 4am drunk, talking and laughing with fellow hostel mates. Sipping wine and writing while waiting for my truffle risotto in Rome. Being determined to finish every ounce of cheese on my first cheese plate of France, taking my time while sitting next to the port in Marseille. Standing at the top of Notre Dame after a miserable walk up hill in Marseille to witness a magnificent view, wind blowing, of the entire city and sea. Falling asleep on an outdoor sofa on a vineyard in Brignoles, listening to nothing but the chirping of birds and cicadas under the shade of a tree. Sitting next to the dolphins and watching them swim by in the aquarium in Genoa. Sipping wine and watching the sun melt into the mountains in Kos. Wandering the isles of Naschmarkt in Vienna, tasting the foods that the vendors urge me to try, spending 8euro on nuts without a single regret because they were that damn good. Sitting in the streets of Brno with the cheapest craft beer I’ve ever came into contact with, jumping over language barriers with locals. Sipping even cheaper beer in a bar no tourist would have ever found on a random side street. Nothing but a small sign on the door to even let you know there was a bar there. And now, sitting in a local cafe with Barbora, me writing, her painting, sipping coffee and eating bread with different spreads.

These are the moments I will remember most. The most simple. The ones that require no thought. My entire life is nothing but an accumulation of simple moments of food, drink, nature, and laughter. And the simple moments will always be what I remember most because they are what I miss the most at home. Drinking shock top and eating nachos and wings where I work. Playing board games at my sister’s with my niece and nephew, making inappropriate jokes and watching them get emotional from winning or losing. Sitting for hours and hours on the beach while the sun sets, reading and smoking, and making my mom mad from all of the sand I drag back into the house. Simplicity is all I need in this life. And the simple moments are what I always remember. 

An Overly Emotional Woman Leaving Greece

The dangers of being a woman. I for one, am controlled by my hormones every month – I’m not currently on birth control, meaning nothing is really regulated, and my PMS and emotions are in full force sometimes. It’s a powerful thing, to be controlled by a cycle… the things that wouldn’t typically bother me push me to limits I’m not comfortable with. The things that I can easily brush off and remind myself not to worry about are things that I start to worry about. But only for a few days until the storm passes. I have to remind myself it’s just that time. But it isn’t easy. Feeling the need to cry all the time. I know I’m stronger than that. I know I’m stronger than how my mind makes me believe. Especially when you’re crying for no reason at all, it’s hard to make it stop when you don’t even know how to comfort yourself. 
Anyway. Now that that’s off my mind…. 
Greece was heaven. The sunsets were the most astounding, stunning sunsets I’ve come to witness. So clear. Not blinding. The full sun in all of its glory melting into the mountains. Blink and you might miss it. She disappears before you can catch her. We are the same in that sense. 
Taking the time out of the day to watch the sunset is the most romantic way to interact with the Earth. It is so stunning it hurts and it’s the one thing I miss most about being back home besides the beach. If I’m being honest, no where I have been has beaches even remotely comparable to back home. Between the sea, the sand, and the sun at home… I am spoiled by nature and I am even more in love with back home than I was before I left. And seriously, I spent almost every free evening at the beach watching the sunset. But Greece won in that sense. The beach was a little too rocky for my liking, but that’s just because I’m accustomed to soft white powder from home. 
I stayed at two resorts for two nights each. The first was of lesser “quality” says online and now says me. I’m not picky, but the AC in my room did not work, making it difficult to sleep because opening the doors resulted in being eaten alive by mosquitos. The staff at Aeolos, my first resort, was spectacular. They were all so kind and helpful to me with my little blue all-inclusive bracelet. I was taken to my bungalow by a woman who barely spoke English and waiting for me was a bottle of wine and fruit in a gift basket, along with a beautiful view of the sea from my door. Many of the employees were surprised at the fact that I was completely alone. The first night at dinner, no one said anything, because it was their first sight of me being alone. The next day, a man at lunch asked if I were alone. I said I was, and he asked where I came from. “Ah, the US! So far from home. Why are you here?” I explained I have been traveling and that this was a short, cheap flight from Bologna. 
There was always a good amount of food and a good amount of beach chairs, even though it was too windy to really sit outside and enjoy the beach my full day there. You could see another Greek island and Turkey right from where I was. I’m upset that I didn’t make it out to Turkey, but I spent a long afternoon in Kos Town instead. I walked around, I bought a dress, and I took my time seeing all that I could see. I have a problem with my impatience and rushing so I’m really trying to learn how to take things slowly. 
They had little events going on for kids and water aerobics, tennis, and ping pong for adults. At night, they had other small events happenings that I didn’t really participate in, but I definitely took advantage of the endless supply of wine, beer, and local spirits. By the time the night was over, I was sufficiently drunk and went straight to bed.
 I unfortunately barely slept because of the lack of air conditioning. It was too hot, so I woke up before the sun and relaxed in the main part of the hotel while I waited for breakfast. I was checked out and ready to go before 11am and took a bus into town, and then caught a taxi from there and to my next resort. Suddenly, a hangover hit – and I honestly thought I was going to throw up in the cab. It was bad. I got to my hotel, checked in, and I was two hours early technically so my room was not ready but I was given my bracelet, and was told that I could relax by the pool, get drinks, or go to lunch. So I wandered around for a bit before heading upstairs to eat. The dining room was…. insane and had an outside eating area as well. There was a wall of bread. A wall. Of. Bread. And more food than you could ever fathom. The dessert section alone was almost as big as the entire buffet of my previous resort. 
I went back for check-in and was brought to my room with a welcome drink. The man who brought me had to walk me out of the building and into a separate part of the hotel for those prime sea views. I had a double bed all to myself, rather than two twins pushed together like in the last resort. And the air conditioning worked!!!!!! So I napped, took advantage of the gym, had dinner and then went up to the roof top bar. IT wasn’t apart of the all inclusive so I just got a beer and got a prime spot for the sunset. The sun set over the mountains and I watched it melt. Like I said. The sunsets here were pretty incomparable to anywhere else I’ve ever been. After sunset, I went back to my room for a little while. When I came back to the main hotel, there were traditional Greek dancers by the bar and I took a seat to watch and drink. I asked for the all inclusive menu and it had everything you would ever want in the world – the good liquors, the fancy mixed drinks, everything – I was in heaven. I ordered a pina colada and then started chatting with the bartender. I got a mojito, and he gave me another before I was even finished with my first. Then shots for me and the other all inclusives I was sitting near. And then he made me a rainbow drink that was even too sweeet for me to totally enjoy – and I was already pretty drunk. I went upstairs for the “late night snack” option which was basically just dinner leftovers, ate to soak up the alcohol, and went to bed. 
The next day I hung out by the pool, had a few drinks, ate more than I want to admit, and then I had a massage that I never wanted to end. I don’t know if it’s just Europe, but she touched me basically everywhere. She even rubbed my belly. And she couldn’t have been much older than me! 
After that, I went to dinner, went up to the roof to bar, had a glass of wine for another spectacular sunset before going to the bar for the evening. It was more of the same… lots of drinks, just no greek dancing. 
This morning I checked out at 1140 and was basically expecting the woman at reception to cut off my bracelet and say see ya later, peasant! But instead, she asked me what time my flight was, and I told her it wasn’t until 9 pm. I asked her if I was able to have lunch still while I waited, and she said, “Well you would have to -” and then I held up my wrist with my all inclusive bracelet and she said, “Oh, you are all inclusive. Go to the pool, go to the bar, eat some lunch, have dinner too, then we will get you a cab to the airport.” It made me feel a lot better knowing that I could relax all day and not have to worry too much about getting around. It sucks having to pay for so much transportation but the next month I intend to live easily and cheaply. 
The next month I am traveling at a slower pace and I am really looking forward to it. A few nights in Rome, then I fly out to Vienna – from Vienna, I am taking a bus to Brno, then Prague. From Prague, I fly to Denmark!!! To finally see one of my best friends who has been living and studying in Denmark/Sweden for years. I haven’t seen her since the end of 2013 so I am really looking forward to spending a relaxed week with her. We will travel to Amsterdam together by plane, then I will fly to Paris for five nights before flying to London. From London, I will go home. I can’t believe my trip is already 2/3 over. It has flown by so far. But I have to say.. I am really looking forward to going home. I didn’t think I would actually miss it as much as I do. I appreciate my life so much more than I ever have. I think for that reason alone, this trip is beyond worth it.