So how was your summer?

Okay, this one goes out to my fellow travelers and adventurists. How do you respond to how was your summer/ how was your trip?

I find myself bombarded by this question on the daily, even more so now that I’m back at Uni and surrounded by friends I haven’t seen in several months, and every time I’m hit with it, I find myself at a loss for what to say. It was wonderful? It was beautiful? It was incredible? It was the most incredibly prolific, life changing, thought provoking, unimaginably difficult while ridiculously fulfilling life experience I have ever found myself in?

“It was great! How was your summer?” – Me, every single time.

I have no single response for how my summer was, because no single sentence will ever come close to explaining what I experienced. Nor will I ever really share the entirety of what happened this summer with another human. One, because some parts of it are better left unsaid (you all know this is true hah), and two, because every story and experience I have from my time abroad is sacred, and contextually based. What I mean by that, is that the experiences themselves were so meaningful because of the environment I was in, the mindset I was carrying, and most importantly the people I was meeting.

I may never regale another human with my travel tales in their entirety, simply because I don’t believe they’ll understand, and I will admit that to some extent that truly saddens me, but I find so much happiness in knowing that the other individuals I shared my travels and adventures and struggles with will always remember our moments too.

Trying to explain a trip that so powerfully changed you in a way that doesn’t make you sound like some kind of hokey, hippy dippy, yoga doing, travel blog writing (wait, is that low key me?) human is damn near impossible. But, to those other humans I met along the way, or completed my program with, the feeling was a mutually shared experience. So I suppose I must find consolation in that.

I must admit though, that I forgot that this was what home is. I forgot that normal twenty one year olds don’t spend their summers doing the things I did, seeking some kind of clarity within themselves. The friends I’ve come home to spent their summers doing internships and studying for their GRE’s. Arguably what I should have been doing, but what I’m so glad I did not.

For wanting to come home so badly, the feeling has all of a sudden come to resemble falling into a pool of stagnant water.

x

 

 

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It’s Friday

Two things happened today that I want to write about.

I realize this may not necessarily be the most eloquent or well thought out post… but so often that notion has prevented me from posting on here. Whay purpose does this blog carry if it fails to act as my secrete keeper though
in whatever form my secrets present themselves in.
So, given my rather limited time frame here, I’m going to attempt a one shot, no edits post. Here’s hopin’ the grammatical errors and general typos aren’t too offensive.

Since my sophomore year of high school (I’m now a senior in college), I’ve attended the same open mic at my local Starbucks. I’ve grown up in this space. Those who have regularly attended have witnessed every boy, every bad haircut, and every awkward phase that has come through my life in the last six or seven years. Miraculously they’ve all accepted me though; cherished, celebrated, encouraged me in whatever form I have presented myself in. That version of myself was also the acoustic guitar, crooney love balled wheeling version of myself and today, after many many years of doing just that, I ditched my guitar for simply, myself.

I went up today and I read something that I had written. Now I should note here that I by no means consider myself a poet, a writer, or really even an individual capable of coherently stringing sentences together on a day to day basis. But there I was, standing in front of some incredibly talented poets, writers and musicians… without my guitar, on a whim.

I read my twenty one life lessons– or at least an abridged/ spiely version of them. And as my open mic ended I was honestly ready to simply book it out of there because while I hadn’t regretted my choice to go up, I didn’t feel quite as inclined to hang around either.

But then to my surprise I was actually approached by other performers and attenders who wanted to compliment my insights. In particular, a  lovely woman who stopped me on the way out made my night. She stated that for twenty one, I was very put together; she complimented my lessons, my appearance, and then quipped that I seemed thirty. Hah.

On the flip side, my parents left for Europe today. They’re going on their own grand adventure, and I am truly excited for them to experience the same wonders I did. They too will enjoy the sites in their own respective way, while most definitely gaining different insights, but I maintain it will be a beautiful experience regardless.

My mother called me from the airport whilst I was at my open mic and as we chatted through a hurried conversation, she said goodbye and then almost as though it were customary, she threw in three words I have never heard my mother say directly to me before. “I love you.”

Deep dark secrete cave, hold this one dear. That’s right folks, my parents have never said I love you to me. Or my brother for that fact. It used to really eat me up inside. To some extent it still does. And arguably it’s why I have a laundry list of issues with the men in my life and loving another human, BUT, here it was. Over the phone. Casually dropped into a conversation that ranged from “make sure you lock your doors” to “eat a french baguette for me.”

I have more to say about this late event but alas I am out of time. Let this be stated though… life lesson thirteen was about loving my parents. And today, I was given the opportunity to really, truly, begin learning that lesson.

My brain is a carnivorous jumble.

x

It’s Thursday.

 

A few days ago I began writing a post questioning the longevity of my Euro high. A week had passed since my return and despite being cast into more or less the same routine I had left behind, I had managed to maintain an air of resilience towards the mundane.

I never finished said post (so far my drafts folder stands at a solid nineteen), but I did get an answer today when I crashed. Sort of.

I took the day off, my first real day off since my return actually, and while it began seemingly well it seems to have crash landed. And I’m not quite sure how to proceed. Hence why I find myself writing this post.

I’ve been surrounded by an untold amount of individuals since my return to the US. And I’ve been incredibly happy as result. But something today has triggered a wave of sadness… and it’s almost as though I am coming off an actual high. Only this wasn’t some sort of chemically induced high, it was a natural, life fortified high that made me feel as though I could take on any challenge happily.

Perhaps this is simply a gentle reminder that I am only human.

 

 

the addendum continued

When did finding comfort in myself translate into seeking solitude?

I did see the boy that broke up with me while I was abroad today. And I won’t lie, despite my new seemingly nonchalant demeanor and disregard for stress these days (the result of my lasting Euro high), I still felt a smidge of apprehension about the whole thing.
But then I experienced the same exact feeling I experienced in Rome, when an individual I had met in Greece discussed the possibility of flying out to meet me there under a romantic pretense.

I have this image in my head where the next man I choose to let in my life stands tall, attentive, heartfelt, and strong– and it’s an image I refuse to let go of or alter now. In my heart, I know what I deserve and I what desire. And so to that end, when the individual I had met in Greece admitted to having feelings for me, and I myself encouraged it by flirting, I simultaneously felt interest, and the rush of an emotion I have yet to label. All I can say is that a large part of me wanted this person to remain where they were… because I didn’t want them. Not in that way. I wanted them as a friend.

And so today, as the boy that broke up with me while I was abroad sat across a table from me and discussed the happenings of his life… I felt myself ease into the comfort of friendship. Which is what he asked for. And for as ridiculous as it sounds, what I found myself agreeing to in between a healthy chant of asshole. Because the romantic feelings I had thought had lingered, had shifted into platonic ones. I no longer felt the rush of emotion I used to feel when in his presence, but rather a comfortable sense of content which I’m sure he himself reciprocated.

I surprised myself with that one though, because I never truly valued myself as an individual enough to believe that I could succeed and stand alone. For years, I had depended upon the person next to me; the image of myself in my head always existed with a shape shifting man next to me.

But today that changed; the image in my head was of a single soul standing alone. Tall. Proud.Victorious.

So here’s to the man I dated, becoming the first man I blatantly called an asshole, becoming my friend.

 

I’m coming home I’m coming home I’m coming home.

All the adventure doesn’t beat home. Doesn’t beat the humans in my life. Doesn’t beat family. Doesn’t beat the life I’ve created for myself.

How can every thing feel so simultaneously similar and different? 

I’m coming home to the same life as a changed person. 

It’s 1AM.. and I need to wake up in four and a half hours to leave for the airport, but I can’t fall asleep. I’ve tried all my usual tactics to no avail, and so now I am instead choosing to expand on a writing prompt I gave myself earlier in the day. Basically I asked myself to write one emotion/ human/ moment/ site/ place/ feeling/ etc that has been of importance to me during this trip associated with each letter of the alphabet.

Alive

Brave

Catastrophic 

Darling

Elated

First

George(s)

Humbled

Insatiable 

Jacob

Knawing   

Lost (/loved/lusted/lingered) 

Moment

Novice

Overcome

Philosophy (possibility)

Quit 

Righteous

Shore

Theodore

Upturned

Volcanic

Why (you no eat more?)

Xcelled (k, I’m a cheater) 

Yellow

Zara 

Twenty One Life Lessons for this Twenty First Year of Life

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Twenty one has had very little to do with alcohol and very much to do with soul searching.

  1. Courage comes masked in several forms, and it is the most important virtue you carry. Celebrate your courageous decisions daily and acknowledge that what others see and what you feel may sometimes be separate values.
    Courage can come as:
         forgiveness
         ignorance
         anger
         solitude
         acceptance
         silence
         leaving
  2. Despite the contrary attitude against this: what others say about you when you are absent, matters. Leave behind the best reputation you can for yourself, but understand that it may not always be the most accurate representation of you who are. Regardless, be remembered for your kindness, radiance, and ability.
    We die twice as humans: once, as our bodies fail to sustain life, and twice, as we are thought of for the last time on Earth by another soul.
  3. Dwell less on end results and more on journey’s. From every given situation and scenario there are happy moments. Hang on to those and focus less on where things have ended, if not ideal.
  4. You can never change the beginning, but you can always change the end. Unhappy? End it.Dissatisfied? Alter it. Lost? Go in another direction.
  5. Wishes are empty, actions are definite. Stop wishing, and start investing your energy more in making decisions that will push you closer to achieving your goals, however small they may be.
  6. Forgive and forget those who have hurt, angered, upset, or forgotten you. Why are you so angry? Why can you not forgive them? Why can you not forget about them? Write them letters. Mail them to no particular addresses.
  7. Stop letting people call you Alli because it’s easier for them. When did you start hiding behind a nickname for their convenience? When did Alli replace Tiasha? Stick with T, it’s who you are. You did this summer, and it felt more honest.
  8. Stop nodding your head yes when you actually mean no. Just because thirty five other people understand doesn’t mean you do. Ask questions when confused, or even curious. Stop being afraid of being wrong and find the courage to be the one who asks.
  9. Celebrate how much energy was spent to put you here on Earth! Understand how much energy your body requires to function on a daily basis. Look at the particles that have to come together for your very being to exist. Consider all the moments that had to happen just as they did, in just the right order in order for you to come into creation. Look at how grandiose your very existence is, and appreciate it. 
  10. Stop fearing that you won’t be accepted; join more clubs and organizations at Maryland. Look at what you have achieved in the last year– look at how many new people you’ve met and friends you have made. Look at how much you have been accepted just as you are.
  11. Every individual you allow to be in your life has the potential and the power to hurt you. This ranges from mom and dad to your coworkers and internship mates. Words and actions and looks and stares and vulnerability hurt… but the chance to surround yourself with people of all varieties is the most sacred experience we as humans have.
  12. Celebrate your accomplishments more thoroughly. You work so incredibly hard and stress so incredibly much during the journey– and have absolutely no problem sharing the struggle– but spend so little time acknowledging the end result. You are worth the celebration when victorious. 
  13. Understand that your parents are human too, and that they they did the very best that they could. Look at the life you have cultivated as result of your parents immigrating to the US. Why are you so angry at them for sacrificing so much for you? Why have you claimed and believed that they did not love you for so long? Is it because they never said it? Think back. You know they showed it. 
    How often do you tell your friends you love them? Does it mean you do not love them if you don’t say it? Of course not. But say it anyway.
    How often do you hold back the notion of love because of some silly past insecurity?
    Your parents love you and for that, they deserve the world. Stop arguing with them. Stop hating them for the past. Start creating a future.
    Spend time with them. Love them. Accept them. As you age, they age as well.
  14. Embrace the notion that you are finally finding comfort in yourself. Embrace your confidence, and spread it onto others.
  15. Life works on a relative, sliding time scale. Believe that not every moment, individual, or instance is meant to be long lasting or permanent. Short lived things are just as important and meaningful. Remember your seventh birthday birthday candles? They flickered for seconds before blowing away as afterthoughts, but for those seven seconds they were everything. The embers that people leave behind are just as important.
  16. Celebrate the culture you were born into. Stop being ashamed, and hang onto the pride you have recently rediscovered. You are from a beautiful place that carries beautiful history. Learn about it, ask about it, and spread information about it.
  17. Leaving people behind in your past as you move forward (i.e. cutting people out) doesn’t make you a bad human. Sometimes people don’t deserve forgiveness, or the chance to bring their bad energy back into your life. Your journey forward is simply that– yours.
  18. Believe in the best in people, right up until they give you a reason not to.
  19. Fear is dependent upon your desire to acknowledge its existence. Remove the power away from the condition.  
  20. Introduce the men in your life to your parents.
    *make sure the men in your life are worthy of being introduced to your parents.
  21. Who you decide to become this year can be radically different from the person you were last year — the person that you were last month. You are whatever current version of yourself that you choose to be and that is all the grief you are allowed to receive about changing. Growth is absolute.

You made it to twenty one when there were moments you didn’t believe you would make it to the next day. You have been beaten and bruised, but you have  also made it. This is a gentle reminder of all the insights you have found.

x

 

I suck at writing.

It’s my final week here in Greece and I’ve collectively made… six posts while here? And have they even been about being here? Of course not, half of those six have revolved around a silly breakup.
Everyone knows that heartbreak has a tendency to force the pen… but arguably, travel should too.

This trip has been about so much more than the end of a relationship —

This trip has been a metaphoric leap into an abyss of sorts. It has been delightful, and painful, and euphoric, and exploratory, and downright pitifully lonely at times— but as it comes closer and closer to ending, it draws closer and closer to the beginning of the second, and final leg.

I wish I had written more about my time here in Greece, but I also realize that it isn’t too late to write down the missing pieces now.

Greece has been such an odd adventure, and as I write this now I find myself spinning with emotion. I have to leave to teach a class in a few minutes now, and in needing to do so I’ll be losing this train of thought… but if Greece has taught me anything, it is that every moment of my life has happened just as it should have. So who knows, maybe in the grand scheme of things, leaving will give me even greater clarity than I seem to think I have now.

 

Be back in an hour, unless something else extraordinary happens.

x