I’m on the first plane out of the country since I got back to the States that we say are United (You guys, they totally aren’t, WTF is up with America?) and it’s as good a reason as any to finally write another blog. (Mostly because I already watched all the available episodes of Parks and Rec and there’s no wifi. Still, good enough.)
I’ve been putting off writing for myself for a while - mostly because I didn’t quite know what to say yet. Feelings have been simmering and I’m finally at the point where I guess I’m ready to word vomit them out. (Like I said, no wifi - it really makes you wonder if you left the stove on before you left the house but only because you were in such a rush but for that same reason you can’t remember if you did but oh god does that mean my place is burning down and my roommates are gonna die holy shit I can’t go to jail but also DEATH WHY DID I THINK ABOUT JAIL BEFORE THE DEATH OF PEOPLE I CARE ABOUT I’M A HORRIBLE PERSON AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH—)
The long story short:
I got a new job in a new city in a new state in a new country and moved there post-traveling the world for 18 months.
The long story long:
It took me a lot longer to adjust than expected, and for that reason, I took a break: from the paid and non-paid travel writing gigs (this blog being one of the unpaid...hey, you can't put a price on word vomit), the five other freelance jobs I was juggling, and kind of just facing reality in general.
I’m finally at a point where I can embrace my insane lifestyle change (a reversal of everything I went through just 20 short months ago) and have rediscovered what it’s like to focus on one thing and one thing only: applying ranch dressing to everything that I eat, once again.
Let’s state the (not-so) obvious: picking up and moving to a new country, state, city and apartment and starting a new job that dictates (kind of) where I need to be at all times wasn’t exactly my idea of post-travel the world bliss. While I had multiple offers for real jobs in different parts of the country and I wanted to feel grateful and thankful and excited to still be relevant in my field, there were moments I despised every interview, “writing assignment” (I HAVE A PORTFOLIO), and offer letter that appeared. Which makes me sound like a bratty, ungrateful bitch. But I’m just being real: that’s how I felt. (The latter feelings were also involved - "am I a bratty, ungrateful beeyotch?")
Part of me was super bummed that I didn’t get this really exciting job travel-writing for this company that wanted me to travel all over Southeast Asia; it was a dream job of sorts. I got really close to getting it and ended up...well, not getting it. But I did get some contract work out of it. It would've been amazing, solo-trekking around Southeast Asia with the same backpack I'd had for over a year, "livin' the dream" or whatever...
But also, I was le tired.
Another part of me wanted to admit that creating a new home base would be good for me. I knew it would be. I knew I needed it. I knew I knew I knew.
And yet, aNOTHER part wanted to live on a beach in Thailand for a few months to just “figure things out”, eventually leading to a very successful business selling coconuts to tourists. I’d create a new straw that punctured the coconut without having the chop it open without a machete. I’d also add rum to every coconut. My demise would only come after a monkey bit me, and I became so untrusting of them that I had to leave Asia and move to California. Years later, a psychologist would deem me “unstable” after a horrendous episode at the San Diego Zoo.
Anyway. Yeah. I was a little lost.
The non-fiction part of that fictional story I concocted is the California part.
I moved to San Francisco and within two weeks of being there, I completed a few things on the “You Know You Live In San Francisco When…” checklist. One of which happened to be a naked man helicoptering his way down the stairs of the BART station right by my apartment. *joyous sigh* Seems like a good place to call “home” to me.
Now that the inherent thoughts of “WTF AM I DOING?! WHO AM I?! WHERE DO I EVEN LIVE?! DO I HAVE FRIENDS?! I HAVE NO FRIENDS!” have started to diminish, I have to admit:
I’ve never been happier. And I completely owe that to the past couple of years - that whole “traveling the world bliss” thing.
Being in a new place and adjusting to my surroundings the same way that I adjusted while on Remote Year has proven pretty easy for me, besides the fact that I have this odd guilt of not keeping up with this blog because, well, I’m only in one city for longer than a month. Which, could possibly suck. And this travel blog doesn’t suck. So. There’s that.
The other thing that proved weirdly difficult? Focusing on myself. Traveling with a group of fifty people is amazing, but it is also draining. There’s always someone else, something else, to focus your energy on. I was so consumed with the world going on around me (duh) that I neglected my own shit. “Me time” wasn’t really a thing - my goal was to be a sponge. I would do everything, see everything, absorb all that I could until I couldn’t - until I was forced to drip - which I guess resulted in this blog. (Those “feeling” things; they’ll getcha.)
Not to mention that I was so busy trying to find work so that I could pay for things with money (the whole “currency in exchange for goods and services” thing is bonkers) that it made my own work suffer. Besides this blog as an outlet, I wasn’t proud of anything I was producing. I went from a job that gave me creativity and pride to a girl holding a sign that read “WILL WRITE 4 TACOS”. (Note: this hasn’t changed. I still very much will.) But, just sayin’: I was busy worrying about things other than my own wellbeing. My job, my health, my confidence - it all suffered a little. And for good reason. I sacrificed time for experience - and I will never apologize for that. But my poor body and sometimes brain were all like, “WUT U DOIN GURL???"
Now that I’m back in a creative atmosphere (in an office, no less) surrounded by people who actually get what I do for a living (well, maybe not everyone, ahem, I can’t just WRITE A QUICK HEADLINE BY 3 PM, JANICE) it’s been so nice.
The people I surrounded myself with for a year were as obsessed with travel and growth as I was. But job-wise, I suffered. And for me, I guess I *kinda* care about work and doing a good job at whatever it is that I'm doing (normally writing), only to be awarded with a beautiful ad baby. Sure, many babies were tortured, murdered, slaughtered in the process, but the one that survived the harshness of creative directors and clients were gahdamn beautiful. (Ad babies, not actual babies, were murdered. Just to be extra clear. An ad baby=ideas that create great ads that make you feel things, tricking people into buying whatever it is you're selling. FEELINGS SELL THINGS, basically.)
This blog was the only outlet I had to express creativity (or words that said otherwise) and I now see how inherently engrained it is in my life. Work is dumb, but also, work is not dumb. Work is part of who I am. A part of me was alive while traveling - but another part slowly wilted.
Thankfully, it’s coming back to life. I’m coming back to life.
I took a hiatus from writing about my feelings because there were far too many to sift through. Now that I’ve officially been in a place for almost two months (woahhhh the longest I’ve been in one place in two YEARS! NEW HIGH SCORE!), I’m starting to get the hang of me. Not “it”. Me.
I’ve found a new routine. I can’t say how nice it is to have a routine again. I’m actually eating healthy food and making money and SAVING money (what’s a 401k?) and working out (my GOD I missed working out) and NOT drinking every night and not doing anything sometimes and not caring about what anyone else thinks and speaking up for myself and meeting new people and kissing strangers (isn’t that all that dating is, anyway?) and damn, it feels good.
I don’t know where the turning point was, but I feel different. A shell of myself was left behind when I traveled non-stop, and
I’m happy to report back that Lauren 2.0 is much, much better. (Quick, someone go tell my 5th grade boyfriend.)
Who woulda thunk I’d come back a different person after traveling the world? Hm. Odd.
While having a routine and an apartment that I decorated and live in with two people that I met on Craigslist (who I absolutely lucked out on, they are amazing), I am on a plane for the first time since moving to that apartment and starting that routine and I feel very much at home.
I’m currently off to Mexico City to visit the same Remote Year group that I traveled through Asia with, and I am more excited than this guy.
It’s their last month of this crazy year, and it was one of the best decisions I made to hop onto their group so that we could potentially poison ourselves with a drink called Strong Zero and go to restaurants with robots and spend nights in Japanese hotel beds together and take ridiculous photos like this one and oh my gosh ~*MeMoRiEz*~
I guess them finishing means, in a way, that I’m finishing too. Not with traveling, obviously, but in the sense that everything is finally coming full circle for me. While my original Remote Year group either continued to travel with other groups, are back at home, are back in a new city, or whatever, the people that I’m about to bid a final farewell to (for now) are wrapping up their year of adventure that they so graciously welcomed me into. It’s the official end of the other part of my remote “year” - which is just fine.
I want to push this blog to continue to serve as a source of stupid shit in my head, ridiculous things I notice or copious amounts of photos of delicious food I've consumed. I’ll probably do more feelings-y posts but also will continue to cover travel and new cities (e.g. where I “live” now, San FranciscHEYOH) and new ramen restaurants, probably.
I’m thankful that I have a job that allows a lot of flexibility (I’m working remotely this whole week while visiting my friends in Mexico City - YAAAASSS) for travel. I have an amazing boss, a superb team, and a stellar new laptop that doesn’t weigh 20 pounds. Living the dreeeeeam of employees everywhere. And I couldn’t be happier.
While it may not seem nearly as exciting as it used to be, you can bet your sweet buns (ooh. pastries. yum.) that it’ll still serve as great reading material while you’re on the toilet. (Don’t lie. I know you do it.)
I’m pretty sure that it took me this long to write something because this chapter wasn’t yet closed. But now, I think it might be. And, like I said - that is just fine.
Professional writer, designer, and do-it-aller. Remote Year citizen/alum. Currently living in San Francisco and probably trying to avoid the terrifying amounts of pigeons.