It’s hard to feel at home somewhere when you’re constantly looking forward to leaving. Since November 2016, I’ve been wheels-up once a month either for work or for personal trips -- vacations and family obligations, marketing events and conferences -- all blending together into a smoothie of airports, business receipts, breweries, hotel rooms, and thousands of miles in between.
Last month, for the first time, I stepped out of the Portland airport and felt happy to be home. I couldn’t wait to start my life again. Compare this to last year when I got back from my summer vacation and cried for hours. I told Peter over and over I feel trapped. I’ve been sitting with that feeling for so long, and I think it’s finally left me.
What is life but change? And what is happiness but looking at each change as a new adventure?
When I visited LA in November for work, I met a bunch of creative, energetic people who inspired me to try and be more like them. Vancouver in February made me see how big the world can be when you open yourself up to it. Omaha in April helped me grow closer to someone I’ve always been too afraid to get to know. Flying to Chicago to see my little brother graduate college filled me with hope and excitement for the future. In July, spending a week in Canada with my close and extended family made me feel so lucky to have the life and support system that I do. It’s easy to take these things for granted, and in the process, loathe everything about my life: my crappy apartment, my stressful job, the holes in my social life… but why do I have to return to the same old stagnant, unhappy place I’ve been?
When I get back from a trip, I get to restart. Traveling changes my perspective on what I have, want, and need. It changes the way I think about my relationships. Where traveling used to be a good excuse to put thousands of miles between myself and my problems, now, I know each trip is an opportunity to fine-tune my outlook and connect with myself again -- and better yet, to make connections outside of myself. Or, you know, just to figure shit out rather than ignoring it - airplanes are great places for thinking. (In fact, the first post I made to this blog was written in my notes app on an airplane. Case in point.)
Since my last post, I turned 25. It’s cheesy to say, but, having my birthday to pivot off of has really helped me come to the terms with the person I am and am becoming. I spent most of my 24th year fretting about not only honoring the person I used to be, but being her again somehow. Not about making her proud or proving her self-doubt wrong, which seems healthier, right? I was punishing myself for not being the person I was or wanted to be when I was 16, 19, or even 22.
So, traveling used to be all about escaping a prison of my own making. But running away from pain doesn’t mean it goes away - it always finds you again (or you find it). I don’t want to live that way.
I want to be present in my life while looking forward to the future. I want to be present in my life so I can care for myself and others in a way I haven’t been able to in a while. I want to pack my bags, take off, and feel like I’m embarking on an adventure, not like I’m on furlough from my own life.
On that note, when I returned from my June trip to Chicago, I knew that I had to start to make good on some promises: To get off my couch, to love myself and my city again, and to feel satisfied and fulfilled by my life. Easy, right?
Turns out it isn’t as hard as I thought, even when I started this blog. The weather helps for sure, but Peter and I are keeping busy visiting places we haven’t eaten or tasted beer before; venturing outdoors; making plans. Don’t get me wrong, since my birthday we’ve done plenty of couch-sitting (and have watched every single episode of Trailer Park Boys) -- but we also went to the river, and for a hike in Forest Park, and to a new brewery that might be one of our all-time favorites, and discovered our new favorite pizza -- and let me tell you, it’s incredible what venturing beyond your 10-block radius can do.
So, this weekend, do yourselves a favor and visit Baerlic Brewing and order the No. 4 from Ranch pizza. Or maybe park your car behind a West Hills porsche and wander onto some random trailhead in Forest Park. When you drive across the Fremont bridge, roll your windows down and take in the best 365 view of the west side. If that view isn't good enough, brave the heat and the sun and plant yourself on Revolution Hall’s new rooftop patio. Make reservations at Han Oak and treat yourself to the best dumplings you’ll ever eat in a garage.
Being kind to myself has taught me to appreciate the world around me so much more. It’s allowed me to feel excited about making plans, trying new things, and building/rebuilding my relationships with others. I’m so thankful for the people in my life, near and far, who (whether they know it or not) have taught me to be patient with myself and others this summer; the people who have been kind to me even when I feel it’s undeserved. Thank you -- for sticking with me and believing in me, laughing at my dad jokes, drinking beer with me, and putting up with my music choices.
I am home. And I’m so happy to be here. And when I leave for Austin for 16 days, I’ll take comfort in knowing that there won’t be anxiety when I return -- only joy.