Dear Self,

When you are stuck inside your own head, remember times like these:

Remember that the world is big, and nothing is permanent, and don’t forget to laugh.

(I made this in 2013, after I spent a year in France. I remember it exists twice a year or so, and every time I watch it, it gives me life. It’s always a good thing to remember.)

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I just got back from the Greek island, Patmos, where I didn’t see even one cloud in the sky the entire time I was there. Not one. The idea that there was literally not even one hiding somewhere was so absurdly ideal to my friend Harrison and I that we actually started looking for them, trying to seek them out. But they really just did not exist in that slice of sky. It couldn’t be true, and it was.

It was after hiking to a small, cliff-entangled beach, sitting near the water’s edge by myself, that I realized there was nowhere I would rather be.

(I know, I know, this is how these kinds of things always happen, right? Always sitting somewhere unimaginably gorgeous, reflecting the Big Questions to a body of water. Maybe it will make it seem more like a true, awkward human life if I include the detail that it was literally so windy on this beach that sand was slapping me in the face during the entirety of this seemingly serene moment. The only comfortable place to sit and avoid sand in my mouth was to sit IN the icy water, and I still had an inch of salt and sand packed into my scalp.)

Anyway.

While sitting there, I simply became aware of the fact that I wasn’t waiting for anything. Or wanting for anything. I wasn’t wishing I were somewhere else, or reaching to check my phone, or creating a quiet to-do list in my head. I wasn’t already mentally on to the next thing, and I felt no pressure to be.

Even with my big, impending move back to the United States, and how overwhelmed I’ve felt from the past year. That I would turn back up in America with no job, or life plan, or even health insurance. That I still wasn’t quite sure how I would pay rent the following week, and that my diabetes CGM sensor died at the beginning of my trip and I couldn’t replace it, and I was frustrated and scared. Despite feeling so unsure, so orbital and in-between everything in my life, I sensed an unfolding in which I would ultimately be alright.

Patmos is gentle and mystical.

I spent so many hours on one specific perch of the hotel overlooking the sea and the cliffs that I can feel it in my bones even as I type this, even while I watch rain smear down my windows in Amsterdam.

Patmos radiated a calm to me that I’ve long heard about from others, but never felt in myself. It was unprecedented and wholly unexpected, but I hope to carry that calm with me as I move through rougher waters. It was so subtle and haunting, moving through me in a whisper while I wasn’t really doing anything at all.

I was just there, only being, and it felt so intrinsically enough.

 

 

Something funny has happened both times I’ve moved abroad: I become way more active online, especially with social media. Partly it has to do with the fact that I’m visiting a lot of really cool places that I want to share. But even more than that, it’s for myself… it is the easiest way to feel like I’m still connected to everyone at home. I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook which is 90% hate and 10% appreciation for Facebook Messenger because that is how I often communicate overseas. Social media makes me feel like I’m still keeping in touch with people, even when I barely am. It makes me feel involved, even when I’m a billion miles away.

Blogging does too, but it takes more time and thoughtfulness, and recently, I’ve been taking that time and doing other things with it. I’ve been going on more micro-adventures and meeting new people……..and watching a lot of Game of Thrones……. (I started it two weeks ago and I’m on season 5, so.) Not blogging felt good for a few weeks. And now blogging feels good again.

So, I’ll catch you up on some of the things I’ve been doing lately instead of blogging:

– I went to the Amsterdam Coffee Festival and drank 11 coffees and had the BEST TIME EVER

– I went to the Rollende Keukens Food Truck Festival and ate 3 fried crickets among other things

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It appears as though I’ve started a new collection!

I got the English one in America, the Dutch one in the Netherlands, and the RUSSIAN (which I thought was Greek at first, my bad) one in the Netherlands, too… for some reason. I think I also probably have a French one lying around somewhere from when I studied abroad, too.

Do you think I’m the only person in the world collecting all the languages of Lantus? Probably. Because it’s weird.

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I am a self-professed street food connoisseur.

As a traveler (or human in general) who is perpetually on a tight budget, street food is the most cost-efficient way to try a country’s local foods. In a lot of cities, street food is really its own culture, anyways, and has grown to be a large part of the city’s local cuisine as a whole. Portland, for instance, is famous for its food trucks and food truck courts. People don’t just go to them because they are fast and cheap; they go to them because they are a staple in the city, and because they are good.

Here are some of the Amsterdam street food staples that I’ve experienced so far.

(Yes, I ate all of these things. Yes, I’m sure I can eat them. No, I haven’t forgotten I’m diabetic, but thank you for the reminder. While we’re at reminders, I’ll just put it out there that I probably know more about my own chronic illness than you know about my chronic illness. A perk of having one, I suppose! Nothing personal!)

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