September was an exciting month of returning back to California and setting up a base in San Francisco. It was a bit surreal to be back stateside after only a few months abroad, but I couldn’t deny how happy it made me to be back in California and in a culture that I knew like the back of my hand.
I had to keep pinching myself to remind myself that I was actually home and that I didn’t have plans to leave again anytime soon. It was a weird but refreshing feeling.
After running around trying to see as much as possible in Portugal and Morocco in August, it was nice to simply slow down and focus on my work, my writing, and spending quality time with family.
I turn a quarter of a century old tomorrow. I’m in the Oregon countryside with my family and I’m just as happy as I was when I turned 21 in San Diego, 22 in Las Vegas, 23 in Melbourne, Australia, and 24 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Funny enough, this house in the country is actually where I first started this blog. I feel like I’m exactly where I’m meant to be, my immediate future is staring at me from around the corner. That future that determines so much of how my life will go.
25 sounded so old to my teenage and younger self. To my 24 year old self I still feel young, I’m at the cusp of many an exciting endeavor, I’m also in the dark of what the next year will entail.
I decided to not go straight into an intellectually stimulating (or probably more accurate, a mind numbingly) entry level job from my college graduation.
I’ve always been a worrier, someone who doubted and second guessed things. Then I took a chance and did something I always wanted to do: I moved abroad. I did it without an idea of what job I would find to keep me afloat, with which friends I would find a new perspective, with what inspiration I would find throughout the course of my two years away from home.
And in the end, it worked out just as it was meant to. As I’ve traveled up the coast of California and Oregon for the past two months, I’ve found how much I still appreciate and love my friends I knew from college, from past travels, and the new friends I’ve met through them.
How it feels like no time has passed at all. This initial veer off the idealized path has created a domino effect in my life. My passions come back to me, knock the breath out of me, I’m in love with so many things. But that’s always how I wanted to spend my life.
To me, it shows how genuinely happy I am going into this milestone birthday, how content and even excited I am with how my life is going even though I may not know exactly what I’m doing with it, or even what I’m doing tomorrow or the next day.
All I know is that music and writing have popped up time and time again through the years, and I don’t believe in coincidence.
I want to finish a master’s degree, I want to record an album and play at open mics or on the street just for the fun of it. I want to start a stellar record collection and become even broader with my music tastes. I want to write a book, to write full time for this blog. I want to become fluent in Spanish and travel to South America, go to Argentina and learn how to properly tango.
I want to take a cross country road trip with my boyfriend in our beat up van through the States and Canada. I want to settle down in Portland for awhile. I want to teach English in Japan, and live in London just to write for a summer. I want to go to concerts constantly, and festivals as much as my bank account allows.
I want to continually learn, to grow and find out how many ways I can enjoy life in the process.
In my (almost) 25 years I’ve earned my open water scuba certification, took culinary classes in Italy, traveled to 20 countries, completely started over in 4 different cities, received my bachelor’s degree in psychology, skydived over the middle of New Zealand, traveled on my own, volunteered at music festivals in Australia, fell in love with guitar, and lived.
I’ve dealt with loss, sadness, loneliness and self doubt. I’ve gone through the spectrum of emotions and come out on the other side with a sunnier disposition and an attitude that I can face anything I put my mind to.
I don’t see why I can’t do the rest of it as well, because all of those plans I mentioned before, I truly hope to one day do.
I’m finally figuring myself out: my confidence, what I love and what I don’t, what I want and what I’m willing to do to make sure my ambitions become reality.
25 is a year to not only get things done, but to enjoy it and embrace any fears or reluctances I may have. I can only imagine it’ll just get better as I get into my late 20s. So, here’s to a quarter of a century of living, and a quarter of a century to figure out where I really want to go is where I am in the present.
As Ben Howard once wrote, “Climb out. Out enough to see the curl of the world.” I’ve taken that to heart ever since.
Snapshot memories is a new weekly series, giving a visual glimpse into different destinations and unique ways to view them. It’s also a way for me to look back on travels that occurred before and after I started this blog, and to give each place I’ve traveled the attention it deserves.
This week my memories go back to Austin.
Austin, Texas. My first trip to the South and the live music capital of the world.
I was feeling restless after coming home from a summer in Europe with no immediate travels in the works. It was the middle of winter, and I had saved enough money at my first bartending gig to spend it on a trip somewhere in the States during the holidays.
It didn’t take me long to choose Austin, Texas. I’d always wanted to check out the South (although Austin I’ve heard is much different from the rest of the South), and Austin’s fascination with live music made it a shoe-in.
I was fine with going on my own, maybe taking a long Greyhound ride to get to Texas and spending a week exploring the city by myself.
On a whim, I invited my boyfriend at the time, and he said he would love to see the city with me, an avid musician and music lover himself, it sounded like a perfect way to use our winter vacation.
We jumped on a plane to save time, and stayed in the HI Austin Hostel to save money, exploring the the Texas capital for about a week. Austin is a fairly walkable city, but it was also convenient to bus into the city and wander from there.
My favorite aspect about Austin was the fact that even though it was winter, and therefore the down season, there was endless live music to be found. We would just walk down the main drag on Sixth Street, wandering from bar to bar, following whatever music we were in the mood for that night.
We listened to tons of live music that week, anything from indie rock, to country folk, to jazz, and even stumbled into a dueling piano bar one night.
A cool thing about Austin is the bat population that famously exists under the “bat bridge”. We were in the wrong season to see all of the bats while we were there, but Austin apparently has a huge bat population, especially under this one bridge near the city.
Although unique, I thought it was a strange thing for a city to have at the time, but after spending a year in Australia with a crazy bat population in most cities, I find it the most normal thing now.
One of my favorite memories from the trip was going to a restaurant called Rasta Pasta near the university. Run by a Jamaican staff, it served delicious Rastafarian pasta, which I had never heard of before, but it was simply great.
Did I mention that Austin is a little bit on the hippie side? It’s very much like my hometown of Santa Cruz in that sense.
Of all the aspects I remember about this trip, the ones that have stuck with me the most were the presence of the color orange (also the local university’s color), the great food to be found in the many food trucks, the colorful street art, and the beautiful autumn foliage, even though it was in the middle of winter.
The Color Orange
Austin was my first taste of the South, and it made me want to to back to explore all the goodness this part of my own country has to offer. I could definitely see myself living in Austin someday, at the very least I’ll be heading to Austin City Limits and SXSW in the near future.