It’s my 27th birthday in two days!
To celebrate I’m heading down to Si Phan Don in Laos, also known as the 4,000 Islands. As many of you know, I spend every birthday of my 20s in a different city. My 21st was in San Diego, my 22nd in Las Vegas, my 23rd in Melbourne, my 24th in Wellington, my 25th in Veneta, my 26th in Chicago, and now my 27th will be in Si Phan Don!
I also wanted to celebrate by sharing 27 things I’ve learned from almost three decades on this planet. I mean, you get wiser with age, right? Well, let’s hope so!
My 20s thus far have been all about that learning curve of life. When I look back on who I was in my early 20s, circa 2011, it almost feels like another person. Then again, to my core, I’m still me.
There’s nothing like an Asian night bus to make you think of your own mortality,
The stained curtains swing side to side in tune to the curves as we go around again.
I have The xx on repeat, thinking about all of life’s little defeats and how I got here.
The driver is going 80 on a hairpin turn, the wheels hugging the road just slightly so,
Will this be the last thing I see before I go?
It started raining at sunset tonight.
I looked up at the sky and it brought me back to that night. There were crashing waves and mojitos. The rain was coming down in buckets, we had to shout to hear each other over the noise.
If you were here, we would look up at the rain falling down on our faces and laugh at the perfect way in which it paralleled a 90s romantic comedy.
We would pause as we took our eyes away from the oncoming storm to notice the graceful way the falling sun framed our faces, our glances lingering a second too long.
And you learn
To build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is
Too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way
Of falling down in mid flight
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much
So you plant your own garden
And decorate your own soul
Instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers
And you learn
That you really can endure
That you are really strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and you learn
With every goodbye you learn.
-Veronica A. Shoffstall
So, today has finally come.
The day I’ve been dreading since I first started making memories, and realized just how much you meant to me. The day that I can no longer come for a visit over strong black coffee and talk for hours about nothing much except life.
February 15th, 2017.
I will remember this day until my day comes, the day you passed away.
It’s that time of the year again. 2016 is already coming to a close, and I’m preparing for a new 12 months of goals, travel, and life. When I look back on 2016, I see a year that was difficult, challenging, and a whole lot of fun too. I based myself in North America this year and had many wonderful adventures starting from the Pacific Northwest.
This was an epic year of travel for me. I traveled to more US states than I thought possible in a year, and, to my glee, I finally added Canada to my destinations. In fact, I visited Canada four separate times throughout the year. I just couldn’t get enough of the Great White North.
No matter which side of the American election you were on this November, you’ll have to agree that where America stands on the world stage is a bit uncertain right now. My country has decided to put someone in power who has no previous diplomatic or political experience. We have decided to choose a leader that wants to close America’s borders, and increase the ethnocentric mindset that already exists in this country.
This has caused alarm for a lot of American travelers and expats. I’m unsure if visa regulations will change for the worse in the next few years. I’m dreading how much anti-American sentiment I’ll get from other foreign travelers for simply being from a country who elected someone like Trump. I’ve already received backlash from other travelers in the last couple of weeks and I didn’t even vote for the guy.
I’m tired you guys. Exhausted might be a better word. I try my best to spread positivity on this blog and to focus on the good, but sometimes, sometimes, I have to be honest and talk about the negativity too.
The America I left 3 years ago, is not the same one I came back to last March. Perhaps I was blinded by my love for my country, never having spent a decent amount of time away from it previously. I know this was not a sudden change, it’s something that has been building throughout the decades, probably, to be honest, since America was born. But the America I came back to last March, the one I’ve been living in for the past year and a half is unrecognizable to me now.
It’s official. I bought my plane ticket two nights ago. The start of an adventure I know all too well, I’m moving abroad again to a new part of the world. I’ll be leaving for Hong Kong in October and traveling around multiple countries before possibly settling down in the Philippines or another place that my heart likes.
“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” – Maya Angelou
In lieu of my Atlas Weekly post this Sunday, I wanted to instead take a moment to pay my respects to all the innocent people who lost their lives this week.