https://www.flickr.com/photos/29864089@N06/3865972196/in/photolist-2gSVXu-ftLnQo-5bFaMR-57yyn4-5bFaZZ-6KJ7Vg-oXyM7-oXyMJ-6KNfMQ-3TxvnG-6KNfzA-6KJ8bk-6NESAo-873Ncw-96QX3h-4WcBzU-6wpkU-4WcCdm-o6zijq-6hQoWW-hbLXTk-aw8m9f-2NjhnP-6TC7R3-9CfRKj-aUD8C8-5b2CNK-6RKs4C-4TirTV-3hXQBF-oRjoXk-dHwtwR-pp58oz-6d9XfG-d61tpf-2eLPtK-pmamft-bL9uaB-p7BPPT-a5VzL7-6TtgHS-pwT8xv-3egZX-9kARoJ-8hgmLA-Fi6iy-4RnEB2-9PzgrV-5YbdeV-85SFo7

Carry yourself over the threshold

Sure,
we burned -
lit up rooms where
our skin touched
– hot as fever,
fevered as flames,
but what was the radius of
this fire?
What did we burn
along the way?

Spark this – I dare you -
so that the house burns down
and the bookshelves, too.
Who knew
we were electric?
Who cared?
We (I) would have
done this anyway.
We orbited the idea of the other
until we caught; sniffed at the edges
of this thing,
until we got burned.
We had lightning
being tempered in our hearts.
Skin and bones can’t keep that safe within you,
and your mind can’t reason it away;
you can’t reign it in.
This is not our kingdom to rule.

You can only
ride out
the pain
until you’re smoking
in the middle of a field
with no recollection
of getting there.
But you got there.

You’re here alone.

Nothing else felt right.
You had to burn everything
to the ground,
and start with nothing

but yourself.

Canal of Venice

What I Miss Most About Europe

 

Me enjoying the Shore of Naples at night

Ever since I’ve come back from Europe, I constantly get questions about Europe. I expected this, but it’s still challenging to keep both myself and my friends amused, especially because my most important stories are.. well.. the same every time I tell them. I get bored telling the same thing over and over again, even though my memory keeps me on my toes by leaving some things out every time.

Here’s the SparkNotes version:

I did hang-gliding. I surfed. I stayed out all night and found bars with new friends where we met even newer friends. I danced the night away in Sevilla (and Lisbon… Lagos, Chamonix, Naples, and Florence). I galloped across the sun-soaked hills of Emilia-Romagna on a little horse that I thought I almost killed. I ate real mozzarella di bufala (food memories are plenty). I learned a little bit of Italian, forgot a little bit of Spanish, and basked in the glory of German polyglots. I was terrified of Naples, and then I was in love with Naples. I never really liked Valencia, except for the agua de valencia, which is a certifiably quick way to get drunky-pants in the morning.

But when people ask me, “isn’t it a bummer to be back?” I have to say no. It’s fantastic to be back. I missed my family, my friends, yadda yadda yadda. I missed them with my whole everything when I was away, and I learned to treasure their company while away. And yet of course I miss Europe now that I’m back. This is what is problematic about traveling;

you want to be everywhere, and when you’re everywhere you want to be home.

Cupola of the Duomo, Florence

I soaked in as much as I could in Europe, and frankly, I was impressed. Sure they have a ton of unemployment and their toilets could use some work, but people there seem much more composed. Maybe this is coming from a 1 1/2 generation immigrant kid with resurgent anxiety issues, but even the young Europeans seem to be okay with not having shit figured out. Maybe it’s because they can’t thanks to the economy (ie. good luck getting a job in any field, nevermind in the one you studied for), but they aren’t overextending themselves. They work a lot. Everyone works a lot. And it’s been said a million times that Europeans “work to live, not live to work”, as opposed to North Americans, but there is something to be said about shooting a few ducks down instead of wasting all your bullets.

I can’t even begin to explain to you why that was the metaphor I went with, but it’s true. Being jobless this past month and a half at home, recuperating from the constant travel, dealing with my new bum knee, reconnecting with people, I realized that I totally changed my perspective on work while in Europe. When I was in university, come every September, I would pile on a job, a writing gig, a full course load and some internship on my plate. I was so eager. I still am eager. It’s the same problem I felt when I had to pick a university program – Why can’t I just take a little from each? I want to take some of everything. I want to try everything and do everything and my mind races about all the things I can’t possibly do in 5 lifetimes. I’ve already packed in a boatload, and still, I see people around me doing more more more more more!

But when I look back on all that time I spent cramming things into half-hour time slots, I don’t recall enjoying a whole lot of it. I remember reminding myself constantly that “this is all for the future, this is all for future success”, and it very well could be (I like to remind myself that 24 is not yet exactly THE FUTURE). But. It could all be for naught. My biggest regret (despite the very liberal notion of not believing in regrets) about university is not interacting more meaningfully with my campus and with my friends. I focused so much on school and on future worklife success that I missed what could have been happening. I tried to do too many things, and yes, my life is still great and I don’t regret working hard.

Looking down from the Cupola of the Duomo, Florence

I believe it is humbleness when you expect to work for your greatness. I am smart, and committed, and talented, but I am not perfect. I want teachers, mentors, and supportive friends, and most importantly, I want to give them my love and my attention. I want theirs, of course, but I want meaningful engagement with my small society. I also want to be good. Really good, but at a few things, not all of them. Even now, hanging out, playing Sims 4 and exploring the magic of Spotify at home while my family rushes off to jobs, to school, to the multitude of after-school lessons that my sister attends, I feel like I’m trying to do too much.

Let me explain. Before I moved out of my house (I am now back), I didn’t do a whole lot to help out around the house. I was a lazy asshole, basically. Now, I’m doing the dishes, I’m cooking, I’m cleaning – all without anybody nagging me around the clock. I’m doing it because it’s now important to me to add value/ take away strain from the household. Along with that, I’m writing, I’ve agreed to help out the social media for a fantastic artistic event in Markham, researching a business venture, getting heavily into healthier eating & yoga, seeing friends, and applying for jobs. Oh, and it’s September, so I’m going to be starting knitting soon.

It feels like too much. Social media. Writing. Digital marketing. Health. Food. Yoga. Rumi. Jobs. Volunteering. Communications. Knitting. I know these are all different realms of my life, but I wish I could just focus on like, JOB, HOBBY, HEALTH. And yet I’d probably be bored, especially because this crazy clusterf*** is how I grew up and grew into greatness.

So what I miss about Europe is having my little tablet with me, with a ton of unread books (they’re still unread because now I’ve also borrowed books from the library… sigh), and a journal and hours upon hours of free time. To wander. To write. To read. To watch life happen. Simple, simple, simple.

Maybe life is supposed to be this complicated so that it feels full. Maybe I’m just having a hard time readjusting. But maybe I need to trim some of these fledgling branches. I won’t have time for everything, and doing everything (see: writing) half-assed is not something I want to keep doing forever. I’ve got to invest – diversify, yes, but invest.

Grow what is important. Learn what is exciting. Nurture what is good.

 

Oxtongue Falls

Why August is Where It’s At

I had planned on blogging all through my European adventure before I left. I wanted to regale you with the trip too-many-times-taken by eager and lost 20-somethings and put a fresh, Arinaish spin on it.

Lesson # 427: I want lots of things that probably, in the grand scheme of everything that I want to do, aren’t good for me.

(Also on this list? Nachos. Beer. Dancing all night. Sleeping for longer than I will ever have to work.)

Why did this slip as a priority while I was traveling? Simply said, I’m not a travel blogger. In fact, I have no idea how they do it so seamlessly, (especially my fave, Candice Does the World.) It’s like birds flying, mosquitos getting stuck in your tent, and ice melting; they just do. But not only was this not meant to be a travel blogging experience, but I realized quite early on that I didn’t want to turn it into one.

I feel that one of my weaknesses as a writer is my secrecy and inability to share my most meaningful writing with the world in meaningful ways. But I wanted to really dig into my thoughts, my feelings, and my preconceptions about the world on this trip, and even though I only had a half-baked point-and-shoot with me, I want to share all sorts of beauty with you that isn’t just blurry shots from my phone camera.

Time to form my impressions and better photo quality is why my posts stalled only a few weeks into my trip. What I’m hoping to provide from now on is some kick ass posts about Europe, waxing poetic and prosaic once I’ve had some time to mull.

Since returning, I still haven’t spent one consecutive week at home – which, at this point, is a couch in a tiny box-like-room in my parents house that my cat arbitrarily uses as his litter box. It’s excellent. I’ve made more headway into Ontario’s cottage country this August than I have in my entire life, however, and I’ve been trying to appreciate and live in the moment.  This has made it difficult to find a moment, though now I should be more focused. I’ve been getting a lot of clean air in my lungs, first at a cottage with my entire family for a week, and then camping with friends.

My parents burst out laughing (and wouldn’t stop, frustratingly) when I told them I was going camping for the first time, probably because they know how much of a princess I can be about certain things. Well bully for them, because I enjoyed my time camping without any reservations – I even think I’d like to do it again some day. A day far in the future, but a day nonetheless. I think it’s probably my European trip that made me less sensitive to certain comforts that I would gladly indulge in, had I the money to do so. I’ve found that I can live on meagre means and be plenty happy, as long as  am fed and in good company.

That being said, my trip to Europe probably changed my life. How has yet to be seen and dissected by myself, but I know it has. What now? I’m not sure. 11 weeks travelling has kind of wiped out my energy but provided me with an intense network of new friends spread all over the world. I’ve added more places to my “to visit” list in the past couple of months than I have in my entire life – I think it’s fair to say I’m officially a lifelong traveller, but I’m tired of planes, trains, and automobiles *for now*.

I need to regroup, refocus, and earn some more moola so I can make my way into the wilds of my friends couches. I’m looking forward to exploring Canada and the States more in the next few years, and definitely making a foray to China/Japan. Travel becomes much more focused once you’ve cut “a place to sleep” out of your expenses. I say focused because usually my thought process goes “I WANT TO GO EVERYWHERE”. If you have a couch somewhere specific? Yeah, let’s go there for now.

I think what I’m trying to get across is a few things. I’m focusing on writing. I’m focusing on my health. I’m focusing on my family. And I’m focusing on becoming more financially independent. WOO CRAZY LIFE GOALS THAT LITERALLY EVERYONE IN THE WORLD HAS.

But they’re goals. They’re good ones. And they’re mad achievable. So let’s get cracking, shall we?