Jul 21, 2013


Fourty-eight hours ago I was bawling my eyes out at an Italian public bus stop.

Not out of sadness, or even happiness. Just out of - fullness.

In this moment, I am seated on my single bed, in my dorm room, my cat at my feet and a pile of laundry on the floor begging to be washed. My backpack has been put away - having traveled to 5 countries in the past 24 days. That bus stop in Italy is so far away. But I have a strange familiar feeling in my guts when I remember the brief moment.

I think the feeling started at that bus stop 2 days ago as I began the 23 hour door to door journey across Europe and Russia and finally landing in my neighborhood in China.


I just returned from yet another journey. And I "really needed that."

It had been 18 months since I packed up my trusty LL Bean backpack and jet set to another country besides America. India was my last great journey in January, 2012. Since then, I've been on other journeys called, "falling in love," and, "finishing a doctorate degree," and, "getting pooped on by your job." All legitimate journeys. But I tend to like mine a little more tangible. Dirt under your finger nails, tangible. 

I needed to move. To ride trains I'd never been on. To hold a slip of paper with directions scribbled in pen and hope I make it to my destination. I needed to find strangers hairs in my sheets at grummy hotels and mime things to people because I don't speak their language. I needed to decipher subway maps and new currency and eat foods I didn't know the name of. I needed to be alone in a city I had never been in before. That's my greatest adrenaline.

Luckily, my parents had the same idea for rejuvenation and planned a family cruise in Eastern Europe. Bingo! My ticket to a European adventure. I am not lost on the fact that this was an undeserved blessing. Timely, yet undeserved.

For 10 days I had them all to myself in a new (and very comfortable) place. We cruised on an NCL ship from Venice to Greece and it was fabulous. We had a penthouse. We were spoiled. I never want to see a chocolate chip cookie again. (just kidding, ha!). I am forever grateful to my family that they make time and effort to see both my LA-based sister and myself. It's the most stabilizing force in my life - my family.

But alas, the cruise had to end, and they left me all by my lonesome on an overnight train to Paris. I was deciding where to go a few months ago, and was hit by the reality that I could actually go anywhere I wanted. That's insane. A few weeks later, I had a difficult event at work and was feeling down in the dumps about myself, my life, my future, the state of the universe, etc. My boyfriend asked me what he could do to make me feel better. "Nothing," I said as I turned to him and a light bulb went off in my head, "I'm going to Paris." And that was that. Work could be as dumb as it wanted because I was going to Paris.The birth country of my Mamaw, a place my family visited together 14 years ago, a place where I have vivid memories of enchantment as a child. I would go to Paris to make it all better.

So I did. And it worked.

I went to Paris and then traveled the Eurostar under the English Tunnel (so cool!) to see a good friend and old classmate from Chinese class a few years ago. Seeing London with a local was awesome. If you've never had clotted cream, you need to stop reading my dumb blog and get yourself to the nearest fancy bakery ASAP. It's luscious. So luscious. Uhhhh take me back there now and feed me. Even the memory makes me hungry.

After traversing France and England by train, I flew back to Venice for my return flight home to China. That's where the feelings hit me.

I thought about money and time and energy and how it's not "fair" that I have the time, finances, and health to just jet set wherever I feel like. I thought of my Chinese friends and the bubble they live in. I thought of the new visa laws that went into place in China on July 1st and how they may or may not affect my life in China. I thought about the dreams I used to have and the dreams I now have and how they have morphed as I see the world and study new things. I thought about faith. The having and the lacking and the need for more. I thought about how heavy my backpack was and how bad I felt for myself having to carry it because I'm not a youthful 22 year old anymore and my back (and everything else) hurt. I thought about how happy I was to see my cat. I thought about how crazy I am to miss my cat so much. I thought about my boyfriend and how I had this adventure without him and how I wish we could be in two places at once. But I thought mostly about my family, who gave my sister and I (and themselves) this great gift of a vacation and also allowed me to continue on traveling alone. I'm forever grateful.

I'm rejuvenated.

Let me share it with you: 

Greece is GORG

the fam in Santorini

beware the Santorini donkeys

Mykonos, Greece

Can you spot my parents? In Venice.

Corfu, Greece

Our home for a week. Lucky ducks.

<3 br="">

Venice, Italy

Vacation selfies in Paris, France

My proper English friend treating me to afternoon tea!

Touring Cambridge, her alumnus. (smarty pants!)

British meat pie = calories what? Don't care. SO good.

Big Ben doesn't seem that big in person.

I love that backpack.

China bound.

Sometimes it takes getting out of your life for a bit to realize how thankful you are for it. Ya know?

walk slow. xoxo.

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