I mentioned October was a force to be reckoned with. It was extremely hard for me emotionally and then there was one final surprise punch the very first few hours of November while I was on a trip to New York. I spent the rest of the month regaining my footing and licking my wounds. Luckily November tends to be great for my soul because of the reunions that start happening around Thanksgiving.
There’s a lie I tell myself often. That I’m unlucky in love but very lucky with friendship. The lie is I’m not unlucky in love and I should stop telling myself that because I will manifest it. When things fall apart for me romantically, as it kind of did with a new person in New York, I am always humbly moved by the depth of love and friendship my support system instantly extends me. Hours after upsetting news even in New York, I was able to spend time with close friends who live there. They offered me warm shelter and a trip to famed bookstore, The Strand, and bowls of noodles two days in a row. How lucky am I to find that kind of comfort and love when I’m in New York? One of my friends even took me to New Jersey so I can cross another state in my 50 states quest, bringing this year’s total to 5 new states. I was only shooting for 4 new states this year!
The week I got back from the trip to New York, I packed up my life in three days and moved from North Austin to South Austin, which cut down my work commute from 2 hours a day to 30 minutes a day. I have a new roommate and marveled that last year I was packing up my life and sobbed the whole way through. In just one year’s time, I moved again and though I wasn’t sobbing, I wept over another man. It amazed me how far one year took me. If you told me last year that in an exactly a year I’ll be crying over someone else, I’d dismiss your general credibility.
I went to the second reading party of my life (hosted by the same person of the first reading party). It’s one of my favorite kinds of parties. I had many coffee dates with friends and was reunited with two of my best friends in Houston for our Annual Day of Magic. This year’s Day of Magic included swinging on swings with children in a park, admiring a field of light, and sneaking up to a rooftop of a skyscraper to take photos. I am newly resolved to hang out on the rooftops of skyscrapers at night more often in 2015. It lit a fire in me!
Not depicted on Instagram, a comped ride to and from the airport from Blacklane. I wasn’t otherwise compensated for trying them out. It was such a welcomed sight to see the driver greeting us with a sign, “Monkeys in Austin.” When you order luxury rides from Blacklane you can customize the greeting sign and it tickled me to surprise my friends with our self-ascribed group nickname of “monkeys.” Also not depicted on Instagram was me fulfilling a bucket list item by riding a mechanical bull. 2014 has been a successful bucket list year for me!
October was a force to be reckoned with. I am someone who pays attention to anniversaries, even the sad and heartbreaking ones. October contained the one year anniversaries of the deaths of two friends and the anniversary of the breakup of a six year relationship. The first week of October was hard. I nearly missed the anniversary of one of my friends’ passing. Luckily Treavor so sweetly sent me flowers in her memory and reminded me. I nearly missed it because I had a sick puppy and it hit me how alone I am essentially. The last time Bob the Dog was sick, I had a work-from-home boyfriend who could let him out every hour. I went home three times in one day while living an hour north from work to clean up after Bob. I threw myself pity parties and then quickly had to switch gears to celebrate the wedding of one of my close friends in Houston.
I went to Houston twice in October. The second time was to have a weekend with Oprah with my best friend. I’m still riding the motivational wave of Oprah’s The Life You Want Tour. In fact, her opening speech alluded to stars and the Milky Way and I paid homage by dressing up as the Milky Way for Halloween in New York City.
As I mentioned in my August Instagram recap, I was in Greece the last few days of August and first week of September. In September I was in Santorini and then I ended the trip with a couple of days in Athens. It was surreal to finally cross off a couple of things on my bucket list that I’ve had on my list for almost two decades.
I went to my second Chris Guillebeau book signing with Anita and bought Happiness of Pursuit. Also with Anita, I attended a party where Ethan Hawke was an honored guest at the Arlyn Music Studio and a Texas politics festival where we sat a few feet away from Wendy Davis, candidate for Texas governor.
Not depicted on Instagram was me spontaneously taking the stage of a comedy show for 90 seconds and dishing out unoriginal jokes and having the crowd and stage full of professional comedians in stitches. I’ve been secretly dreaming of delving into stand-up comedy and that experience gave me a fun glimpse into that dream. I also had drinks with three friends and somehow while buzzed, we hatched a plan to go to New York City for Halloween. A week later, still compelled when sober, we booked our tickets. Since then, our trip of four friends have grown to a seven people group trip!
Last month I finally experienced something that has been on my life list since high school, and that is to visit Greece. MJ, Anita, and I spent over a week island hopping around Greece and my favorite island visited was Santorini. I always learn about myself when I travel to new places. In Greece, I learned I can plan a trip around beaches. I assumed I was someone who prefers the metropolitan and urban travel destinations. I thought I’d always pick the Lourve or the Met over sunbathing and reading in sand. The rush of navigating a subway system over wading into a deep blue sea. Greece, and more specifically, Santorini seduced me with its pink and orange sunsets and blue horizons.
Like my trip to the Grand Canyon in March, Greece taught me the beauty and luxury of slowing down. To let moments lap at you. We spent a lot of our time leisurely moving from beach to cafe with a beach view to another restaurant with an amazing view. The beautiful views were so abundant, it felt like an embarrassment of riches. I read four books on this trip and ate my weight in mussels and creamy carbonara. I also skinny-dipped for the first time and was exhilarated I crossed this off my list in the Aegean Sea instead of an apartment complex pool back at home.
I started 2014 in the wake of a break-up of a six-year relationship and since then have been on this journey of self-discovery and rediscovery. I’m so thankful Santorini and other islands of Greece were part of this year’s story.
In August, I had a photo-taking meet up with a friend. We chased the light around downtown Austin and snapped photos to hone and practice our skill. It was during this endeavor that I met a unicorn.
I met up with a couple of guy friends. The three of us sat on a balcony, drinking sake and eating chocolate and shared painful stories, punctuated with humorous anecdotes that relieved us of the ache. After I peeled myself from the refuge of the balcony floor, I received a Snapchat photo from another friend captioned “boys’ night”. I responded with a group selfie with the same caption. We made an unlikely trio and our night of being vulnerable with each other is not typical for us. So much so that I doubt we’ll ever do it again and yet this night was the most comforting night I had in August.
August ended with my leaving for my big trip of the year. Anita, MJ, and I left on the 28th to fly to Athens. By the end of August we had started island hopping in Greece. We sunbathed in Mykonos and walked around Santorini. I can’t wait to show you the rest of the photos from Greece in the September recap.
Not depicted on Instagram, I went on a couple of dates with someone I’ve been harboring unrequited feelings for for months. It hasn’t progressed much after that but it remains a highlight of the month. As painful as it is to not see reciprocation, being around him makes me smile. Oh the angst!
I was invited to a wedding in a small town in North Carolina and used that opportunity to drive in and out of North Carolina three times to visit South Carolina and Virginia. This road trip sold me on solo travel. I drove into Houston to fly to Charlotte, North Carolina and then I drove to Charleston, South Carolina to spend the night. Then back up to north North Carolina for the wedding and the night. The following morning, I drove almost three hours to see a sight in Virginia, and then four and a half more hours back down to North Carolina to visit the Biltmore and spend the night in Asheville. In the span of 5 days, I drove a total of 24 hours. I’m still recovering but it was all worth it. I’m officially at 25 states now in my 50 states travel goal.
I didn’t know much about North Carolina and someone earlier in the year told me it was his favorite state. He’s been to 48 states. As I was driving through it and spent a day and a night in his favorite town, I just had to text him despite not being in contact with him much. I told him I get it! I am completely smitten with North Carolina and I especially love Asheville. I can see myself settling in a town like Asheville. It feels like a smaller, friendlier, more charming version of Austin. And I say this truly loving my hometown, Austin.
If hypothetically I lived in Asheville, I’d invest in the annual pass to the Biltmore. The grounds and gardens are so expansive and beautiful. I saw people bringing lounge chairs and blankets and bikes. As I was being shuttled from the house to my car, I asked the shuttle driver if he ever tired of the breathtaking views, seeing it day in and out. I have a theory that when humans get too comfortable and familiar in their relationships and surroundings, it’s inevitable they start taking people and things for granted. He told me he never tires of it because the surroundings change with the seasons. The gardens change with the seasons. He said he could spend his days off back at the Biltmore if he lived closer. And as I admired the views and remembered breathing in the scents of the gardens and greenhouses, I believed him.
Some time ago a nomadic soul who recently planted roots asked me how I managed to keep the explorer in me fulfilled when I’m not traveling. There are infinite amount of experiences to be had which means you don’t necessarily have to get on a plane to start exploring. As much as I love traveling, it’s not always feasible to hop on a plane or jump in the car with an out of town destination.
Be a sponge for local news and events. I am always on the lookout for things to do in Austin and Houston, my home-bases. Even if my schedule isn’t free, I’ll mentally bookmark the local gems. Just last week I finally checked out a rooftop telescope that has been open to the public at the University of Texas for decades. I saw Jupiter and four of her moons. I’ve had access to this building for thirteen years and still just manage to experience its roof and peer at Jupiter for the first time. Examples of some of my local gems? In Houston there’s an obscure museum called the National Museum of Funeral History and in Austin we have the Cathedral of Junk. What does your town have? When was the last time you checked out your local tourist spots?
Be deliberate. I’ve been consciously looking for a new experience at least once a week since the summer of 2005. I have not missed a week and it comes so easily to me now. It can be as small as trying a new restaurant or cooking with a new ingredient or finally taking that dorky Segway tour of your city. Scan your Livingsocal and Groupon emails for new experiences in your town. That’s how I found myself taking a bee-keeping class and rolling down a hill strapped inside a plastic ball. All of these experiences required no booking of airfare or lodging.
Have friends with adventurous spirits. I recommend being friends (and dating) people who aren’t afraid of looking stupid. People who don’t mind making fools of themselves as they learn how to ride that Segway or who are brave enough to be in that plastic ball with you. These like-minded friends will also be in the know of all the unique nooks and crannies your town has that most locals take for granted.
Be open and say yes. I’m willing to bet that a lot of us are so comfortable with the familiar that we make excuses. Excuses are dangerous stories we tell ourselves on why we can’t have or do something. Adventures aren’t limited to faraway places. Be open. Next time something strikes your fancy, google it along with your city. See if your city has a sensory deprivation chamber after you hear about it on the Joe Rogan podcast. If your friend invites you to a reading party, even if it’s easier to just read in your pajamas at home and not suffer the social anxiety you get from meeting new people, say yes.
Traveling is an easy gateway into the feelings you’re bound to feel when your horizons are being stretched and you are seeing things for the first time. I get it. I can never get enough of travel. But it’s still possible to feel awestruck anywhere you happen to be.
I usually plan my trips around metropolitan destinations. However, I hadn’t spent time with Ashley Riordan, Nicole, and Ashley D as a foursome since we went to Vegas almost two years ago. I also never visited a National Park before and still need to scratch off Arizona on my 50 states list. So when Ashley Riordan expressed an interest in visiting the Grand Canyon, we all jumped aboard and had a reunion trip. I’ve never experienced nature so breathtaking in person. I landed back in Austin with such an ache in my heart. The views and backdrops of our weekend there were unreal and being around girls I love so much felt like finding a long lost beloved sweatshirt that still fits. I newly resolve to travel with them at the very least once a year.
If you want a more thorough recap of our trip, might I suggest Ashley Riordan’s? But first take a look at my favorite photos.
In September, I inherited a used DSLR to pursue learning photography, spent a day in Miami to help my friend paint her new house, spent a weekend in the country close to Dallas with friends, and read a book in a day.
Yesterday I was telling you that I was probably going to fail my traveling resolution for the first time in three years. A day after predicting the failure, I booked a weekend trip to Nashville, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky. It took me six hours from Anita asking me if I’ve ever been to Tennessee to make this happen. In two days, I’ll see two states and will fulfill my travel resolution two days before year’s end. It may seem a bit extreme to go for only two days but my budget and need to achieve my goals motivate a lot of my rash decisions.
I’ve never traveled by myself for pleasure. I’ve had a taste of it when I used to travel for work on my own. I know this will be an exercise in getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. My life is about to change in a couple of weeks and I’ve been grieving the old life ever since I committed to this change. By the time I take this trip, it will be the end of 2013 and a month into my new life. I think the timing is perfect. As an extrovert, I self-medicate with the company of others. Traveling solo will enable me to be quiet and listen to my thoughts. Reflect and finally spend time with my journal. I’ll come back into Houston in time to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve with Kim and her friends.
It’ll be the first New Year’s Eve I’ve spent outside of Austin in 7 years. It’ll be the first New Year’s Eve in a decade, I won’t be at a party. Like this weekend trip, it’ll be just what I need.
Question: What are your experiences with traveling by yourself?