This time of year is consistently filled with excitement (and for some, dread.) Softening twilights signal the end of summer, when we put down our popsicles (or mugs of hot tea, if you’re a San Franciscan) and pick up our books, strap on our backpacks. It’s back to school time.

The little girl who loved school, who couldn’t wait for classes to begin…could hardly have predicted the evolution of the phrase “back to school” as a thirty-year-old. She likely could not imagine that one simple object and its meaning, its weight, would evolve alongside her.

 

Backpacking SF beach-8


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Well, just for the week.

And yes, you can consider this post’s title my best attempt at a terrible, belated April Fool’s joke.

After a whirlwind visit to Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day, where I got an intensive lesson on Irish life past and present (and by that I mean more than just multiple hours spent wearing green and cozily sipping pints — did you see it all on Snapchat?) I’ve been home for just two weeks and already, I’m heading back out there into the world again.

As many of you know, I took a long break from even uttering the word ‘travel’ after a worst nightmare came to life on the road at the end of last year. I wasn’t sure when or how I’d resume my usual manner. So, I resolved to press pause on traveling and stay home for the foreseeable future…only to then lose my apartment.

In the months that followed, I tread water daily just trying to stay afloat. And when it feels like you’re drowning, the best way to survive without panicking is…(?) to find your footing. I sought and found great comfort in re-establishing myself in a new home and rooting myself in a daily routine.

In pursuit of this balance I’ve sharpened my skills for finding adventure in my own backyard, staying curious, active, and engaged with life and culture even when I’m not traveling. Yet at some point, even the boldest routines can begin to feel stale. (Isn’t repetition what creates a routine, after all?)

Once again I find myself seeking that familiar desire to stretch to the unfamiliar, like a runner whose legs ache to hit the trail. Still, more than ever to date, I respect, need, and value my life at home.  


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Life is made up of hundreds, thousands, of little moments. Sometimes these pockets of time seem to make sense. Other times they’re random and endlessly confusing. Still there are slivers of our lives in which we feel irrefutably connected. This is a story about one of those times.

Dozens of little coincidences (which go much farther back) led me to open up an email newsletter this morning and read it through. Isn’t that how life always is, a series of sychronisms until they add up to something meaningful? I put it out of my head and went about my day.

Oddly, one of my favorite little quirks of living in San Francisco is riding the MUNI (the bus system and public transportation in SF.) It never fails to be an interesting spectacle. It is always humbling. Yet after getting ready to board a bus from Tahoe triggered a panic attack (due to parallels with what happened in Colombia,) I’ve steered clear of buses whenever possible. It was only because it was raining (and because the cafe I intended to work out of did not have wifi!) that I left for home at that precise moment. Feeling raindrops speckle on my skin like splattered paint, I decided it was time to try the bus again.

Like any good series of coincidences, this story really begins earlier in the day when I opened that email newsletter.  Perhaps it goes even farther back, to my seeking reiki healing therapy in the past few months.


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I spent the last month in both Paris and Colombia.

In Colombia I was a victim of violent crime in a “safe” area of the country. With a gun to my head, I lost my passport and all of my possessions, along with a large part of my faith in travel and in humanity. The days that followed were some of the darkest of my life.

Mere days earlier I was feeling all too light in the City of Light — my happy place, my beacon of beauty, a place that brings light to my eyes and fire to my soul. I return to Paris as often as possible — but not too often, for I yearn to experience more of the world. I know that the globe is far from being full of pastries and side streets, pungent cheeses and cute cafes.

With that in mind, I booked a ticket to Colombia — partly due to the recommendations of other travelers, partly to give a previously ‘no-go’ destination a chance.  I was confident, I was comfortable, I was fearless.

I wanted to experience the “real” Colombia. I believe, sadly, that is exactly  what I got. Never could I have imagined I’d be part of a bus hijacking. Never did I think I’d actually be faced with a moment in which my life could have ended, just because I was traveling there.

It was my first time in South America.


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Ever get that feeling?

It’s as if you’re jogging… (let’s be honest, it’s been awhile – but bear with me) and the view is great, the wind is in your hair, a pulsing energy flows through you. For a minute, you can feel it: complete freedom.

There are also those moments when your knees begin to ache, the wind feels like it’s slapping you in the face, and your lungs are having trouble keeping up with your legs. Each step weighs you down more than the last. The pain and the doubt sets in, and you ask yourself, why I am doing this?  Why am I still running right now…and when is it going to be over?

I calculated the days I’ve spent on the road in the first half of the year. For a person with part-time travel as the goal, it wasn’t pretty. There was a period of three months when I was home for a total of 2.5 weeks time.

I started to feel like an out-of-shape jogger.


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