Today is my birthday.
And you guys, I am kind of old.
31 years old, to be exact.
I am officially a “woman” in her thirties.
(How the f*#k did that happen?!?!)
However, considering how freaked out I was by this concept last year, I am surprisingly okay with it this year.
I think the camino has a lot to do with that. The camino was the first time in my life where I have actually felt my age, but in a good way. There were not that many people in the same age bracket as Kevin and me, so the age differences were a bit more clear, a bit more defined. I wasn’t an early 20-something recent college grad backpacking around with a penny budget, nor was I a mid-lifer looking to change their life. And while I hope to be one of these people later, I certainly wasn’t an empty-nester retiree enjoying the good life.
I was a thirty-something, right in the prime of my life, getting ready for the next stage of it. And I actually felt like that… I felt like someone in my thirties (well, early-thirties at least).
And it felt good.
This past year has just flown by. It honestly feels like yesterday that I wrote these posts on turning 30, and yet here it is already a full year later. It’s crazy to me.
At the end of my turning 30 post I wrote “to my 30s, I say: Bring it on. Let’s rock the shit out of this decade.” And while I don’t know what the next nine years have in store, I can say with all confidence that I did, without doubt, rock the shit out of this past year.
In fact, it has proven to be one of the best of my life.
It’s been a huge year, filled with change and travel and personal growth, and just a lot of really great things. Thanks to weddings and 30th birthday celebrations, I was able to travel an insane amount, from Hawaii to Austin to Las Vegas to Oregon and all over California.
Oh, and I walked across Spain! With my husband! For over a month!
What a year.
From the outside it doesn’t look like all that much has changed. I’m still searching for that thing that makes my heart sing, professionally speaking. I still live in my teeny tiny SF apartment. I still drink copiously and get accidentally hammered more often than I should. I still struggle with the same issues I’ve been struggling with for years.
But on the inside, I feel different from where I was a year ago. More confident and content with where I am right now, which is saying a lot, considering “where I am now” is that of an unemployed 31-year old still trying to figure out what it is I want to do with my life (a thought that would have absolutely horrified me in my 20s). I feel better equipped to handle the waves of anxiety and depression that inevitably try to creep their way in (on most days, at least). And while I still worry about the “what ifs” of life, they don’t paralyze me as much as they used to.
So is that what being in your 30s is? Being more content and confident? I certainly hope so.
I might only have one year to base it off, but so far the 30s are not so bad.
They are pretty spectacular, actually.
31. Let’s do this.
Butterflies and wine bottles.
30, you rocked.
Well hello there! It’s been awhile, no?
You’d probably think that now that I’m no longer walking for 8+ hours a day with limited internet access, and instead now finding myself at home, unemployed, with a high-speed wifi connection, I’d be blogging all the time! But instead it seems the opposite has happened.
The thing is, despite not having an actual job, I’ve actually been pretty busy since I’ve come home! Between friends and family and visitors galore and Thanksgiving and unpacking and trying to put our life back together, my days have actually been quite full these past couple of weeks. I haven’t been wasting my days screwing around online, or binge watching TV, or doing any of those other time suck things, but what I have been doing hasn’t really been all that interesting. And I guess going from having the time of your life and walking up in a new city every single day, to spending your days running errands and doing laundry hasn’t exactly provided me with a whole lot of inspiration.
And I think that has put me into a little bit of a blog funk. Because not only do I miss being on the camino, I miss writing about the camino. I miss stopping mid-day to take notes because something so utterly amazing just happened that I had to stop to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. And now that my days have consisted of laundry and Thanksgiving shopping and internet researching, I haven’t had a whole lot of those moments. And really, who wants to hear about those things anyway?
While my funk seems to have mostly affected my blog, Kevin’s been having a real-life funk. He’s been having some major post-camino blues. I’ve been trying to remind him that just because the camino was an incredible and amazing experience, it doesn’t make our life in San Francisco any less amazing or significant. But it’s hard to go from such a high back into the monotony of real life, and I’m sure if I had to jump right back into work I’d be feeling the same way. He’ll figure it out.
Anyway, all of this is to say that I’ve missed this little blog of mine, so I’m going to try my best to snap out of this funk and dedicate some more time to my corner of the world wide web. One of the many things I’ve been wanting to do with my downtime is focus on this blog, give it a blog makeover and what not, so hopefully you’ll be seeing some exciting things soon.
I’m also going to write some more camino and travel related posts, while the information is still fresh in my mind. As I’ve mentioned before, if you have any camino or travel related questions, please let me know (either through email or in a comment below) because I’m working on a FAQ, as well as some posts on Portugal and Morocco. And if there’s anything you’d like to see more of on my blog, let me know that too!
In the meantime, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to lately:
If you’ve been reading for awhile you might remember that I am a major Huger Games fan. So you can only imagine my excitement to watch Catching Fire…
Yes I own a Hunger Games t-shirt.
And yes I wore it to the movie.
And yes my friends all laughed at me.
And I did not care at all.
Team Peeta all the way, yo!
We also hosted Thanksgiving! Kevin’s parents, his sister, my mom and step-dad, and two of our best friends all crammed into our teeny tiny apartment and had a feast. Nine people. And I have to say, for such a small place, I think we did a great job!
Top: Our apartment normally…
Bottom: our apartment after converting our desk to an extra table and using our buffet… as an actual buffet!
Who says you can’t entertain in small places?!?
As a side note – remind me later to tell you how somehow I was tricked into drinking non-alcoholic wine. Who does that to someone?!?! Cruel, I tell you! Cruel!
I’ve also been up to a bit of karaoke. Me and Michelle absolutely rocked Don’t Stop Believing, if I do say so myself.
I’m clearly a natural on stage!
If only I could sing.
And there you have it. Hunger Games and Thanksgiving and Karaoke. Just a few highlights of the past couple of weeks.
What’s up with all of you? I hope good things!
We are back. And it is weird. So weird.
We got home on Saturday night and we’re still trying to get our bearings and get back into the groove of our life again. Kevin went right back to work on Monday so I imagine that this transition is immensely harder for him than it is for me, but even without a job to return to, I find myself struggling to get back into normal life.
When Kevin left for work it was the first time in over 45 days that we had spent more than 10 minutes apart, which was a strange strange thing in and of itself. And while it was nice having my own time, as gag-inducing as this may sound, I missed him. I did. And I think that’s a good sign! Of course we had our difficulties and our share of bickering along the way, but if we can spend almost seven weeks together inseparable and still miss each other at the end, I think we’re on a good path for the rest of our life!
I have already seen a handful of friends which has been so wonderful, but a lot of people have already started asking me what my plan is. And like I wrote last week, I just don’t know. I’ve only been home three days. I’m still trying to adjust back into a life that doesn’t revolve solely around how far I’m walking and what I’m eating. Right now I still find it strange that I can speak English and people understand me! Or that I don’t have to wear the same clothes every single day. I’m fascinated by the fact that I have a refrigerator! And a bed! And a curling iron! It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest… being surrounded by so many things.
I’m having massive sticker shock as well – spending $8+ on a glass of wine is just mind boggling to me (but since I’m clearly not going to give up going to my beloved wine bars, I’m sure I’ll get used to that one soon enough!). I’m also having a hard time accepting that it is no longer acceptable to consume 3500 calories along with a bottle of wine every single day.
But more than anything I’m just trying to hold onto some of the camino magic and not fall back into my old routine, which consisted of a lot of laziness and TV. I am trying to be more active and less stationary. Prior to the camino I lived such a sedentary lifestyle, and I don’t want to fall back into that again. Since I’m unemployed right now I have no excuse not be active, but I want to develop a good routine so that when I do get back into the workforce I won’t immediately fall prey to my old ways. I’ve learned a lot about myself on our trip, one of which is that I feel so much better when I’m more active. I know everyone always says that, but this was the the first time in my life where I actually felt it.
Yesterday I walked to Trader Joe’s. This walk used to seem a little too far for me to walk for groceries, but this time it felt like nothing… like a leisure stroll! And when I looked up the distance I realized that it really was nothing…. a mere 0.6 miles away! And yet I used to think that was too far to walk! It’s so strange. My perspective on distance has changed completely.
However, despite the short distance I seemed to have forgotten that I had to also carry back everything I bought, so at the end of the trip I had considerably more than was comfortable to hold. It was raining, so I contemplated taking a taxi, but then I reminded myself that I’ve walked much farther in far worse conditions, so I took out my umbrella, moved some things around, and then trudged up the .6 mile hill back to my house. And I was proud of myself, because that is something I never would have done prior to this trip. Carry 25 pounds of groceries up a half-mile hill in the pouring rain? I would have laughed at even the suggestion!
I’m also trying to make sure I start to do all the things I’ve always wanted to do but hadn’t made the time for. Things like finally make our wedding album, clean out our closets, de-clutter our guest room, frame the artwork we’ve been meaning to frame for over a year, take a Spanish class… you know, all of those things that you always want to do, but that tend to fall to the very bottom of your priority list when you work full-time. Because now, for the first time in a long time, I actually will have the time.
So yeah, I’m trying my best! Every time a wave of “what am I going to do with myself” anxiety starts to creep in I tell myself that it will all work out, and though I don’t know how or when, I truly believe that it will. I don’t want to not enjoy the present by worrying too much about the future, because as we all know, I am an excellent worrier! And worrying is nothing but a waste of time.
Over the next week I’m going to try my best to respond to all of the wonderful comments and emails I’ve received over the past couple months. If you haven’t heard from me please don’t think I’ve forgotten you! I have not. I have appreciated all of your comments and notes so so much, and I’m in the process of responding. Thank you so much for following along.
Back to drinking wine and hanging out with some of my favorite people.
Not all my old routines were bad ones
After a week in Morocco, we are heading back to Spain for the final leg of our adventure. Morocco was truly a different world, and after spending so much time in Spain, this feels almost like coming home. I like that we are ending this journey in the same country we started it in. It feels right.
I don’t even know how to describe our time in Morocco. It was crazy and hectic and beautiful, but it was also a bit harder than we expected. More exhausting. In hindsight, coming from the tranquility and peacefulness of the camino right into the craziness of Marrakech probably wasn’t our best idea, but we had a great time regardless. It was an experience we will remember forever, though I can confidently say we much prefer the European lifestyle. I no longer have dreams of owning a Riad, that’s for sure!
We now have two nights in Barcelona, and then we will board yet another flight to take us back to our actual home, San Francisco. We’ve been gone almost seven weeks, and while I’m going to miss this (so much!), I’m looking forward to all the goodness that awaits me at home. Friends and family and holidays and all the other wonderful things that make up our life. Just thinking about it makes me happy.
I’ll be joining the ranks of the unemployed when I return, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it is I plan to do with my life when I get back, but I still don’t know. I was hoping this trip would provide some sort of eureka moment of clarity, but that hasn’t happened. However, it has provided me with a lot of time to reflect and think about how I want to live my life and be the person I’d like to be, and to focus on what is really important to me and the life I’m building with Kevin. And that has been invaluable.
I think the greatest gift I can give myself is time. Time to let myself figure out what it is that makes me happy and how to incorporate that into what it is I end up doing. I’ve been so unhappy in so many jobs, and that is truly no way to live. Life is too short to be miserable five out of seven days of the week.
More than anything I’m thankful that I have a husband that is allowing me to take this time, that supports me and encourages it and doesn’t mind if we live off of pasta and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a bit. I know I can’t be unemployed forever, but I’m so grateful to have the luxury of being able to be jobless for a few months. And I’m well aware that it is just that – a luxury.
I have no idea what my future has in store, but for now, I’m not going to think about any of that. I can easily waste hours (days!) focusing on the “what ifs” of my life, but I’ll have plenty of time for that later. Instead I’m going to try to be as present as possible these next two days, and enjoy every second of the time we have left. Because if this trip has taught me anything it’s that – enjoy the here and now. So I intend to.
And now, a picture of me and my camel, who I lovingly named camel-toe:
I write this to you from a plane on its way to Morocco. Kevin and I have done quite a lot of traveling this past month, via bus, train, and foot, but this is the first plane we have taken. And you guys, planes are so fast! The map just told us that we are about 350 miles away from our destination and we will be landing in less than an hour.
Kevin and I recently traveled that same distance. By walking. With our feet.
It took us 30 days.
Technology is amazing!
We just spent the last three days in Portugal, which wasn’t nearly enough time but at least we got a taste of it. We drank port in Porto and ate sushi in Lisbon and I was so happy to
not have to eat a peregrino menu del dia I could have cried (outside of the major cities, the food in the smaller towns in Spain was challenging, consisting primarily of bread bread bread, ham, cheese, and then more bread. Soooo much bread. Too much bread, even for a carboholic like me).
Leaving Santiago I was sad for about half a day, but then my “travel is to me what meth is to Walter White” feeling kicked in, and suddenly I was happy as a clam to be traveling again. We were going somewhere new! By train! Where we could eat real food! And see new sights! Oh the excitement!
We loved Portugal. For some reason it had never been that high on my “must visit” list, but it is now. The food, the wine, the culture, the people, the architecture… all were amazing. Lisbon itself was just incredible, and it quickly earned the title of one of my favorite European cities. It’s worth so much more time than we were able to give it.
I suppose we will just have to go back!
(the more we travel, the more our list grows)
We’ve also run into quite a few pilgrims in Portugal, which has been fun. We are all easily identified by our backpacks and lack of normal clothes (aka ugly clothes). Though I was able to buy some boots in Porto, I wasn’t able to find anything appropriate for 80+ degree Moroccan weather. So, I’m still in my gross pilgrim clothes, which I am not thrilled about, but hey, there are bigger problems in the world than what I look like. And I get to go to Morocco! What I’m wearing should be the least of my concerns. I’m a lucky girl, ugly clothes and all.
We are both ridiculously excited for this leg of our adventure. We haven’t even arrived and we are already whining annoyingly about how we wish we had more time. There is just so much to do, and one week isn’t nearly enough time to do it all! But it’s a start.
We are also particularly excited to experience a totally new culture, something entirely different than we are accustomed to. Spain and Portugal are amazing, and of course they are not the same as California, but as Western countries, are not all that different from the U.S. Not like Africa, anyway. We are looking forward to the culture shock of it all.
My food just arrived (on foreign airlines you still get food! for free!) so I’m going to stop writing and start eating. Lunch consists of a chicken sandwich, a yogurt, and a Mars bar. This is gourmet compared to what we get in the states. It puts our airlines to shame.
The above was written on our flight from Lisbon to Casablanca. I think I was getting too comfortable, too arrogant in my traveling skills, so the universe decided to humble me.
“Hahaha” the universe said to me. “You want different, I’ll show you different!”
After landing in Casablanca, the following things happened:
Our connecting flight to Marrakech was canceled, because of that we lost our luggage. The driver we organized to pick us up at the airport wasn’t there, so after much confusion we took a taxi, who then got lost and took us to the wrong Riad, which led to a new slew of problems.
As if that wasn’t enough, shortly after going back to the airport the next day to pick up our lost luggage, two men got into a fight and one of them took out a MACHETE and chased the other one down the street!!!!*
So yeah, we’re not in Spain anymore!
Obviously all has worked out, we eventually got to our Riad and we eventually got our luggage, and now that we’ve had some time to settle and get our bearings we are back to having a great time (and it wouldn’t be traveling if something didn’t go wrong!).
Marrakech is nuts. It’s crazy and chaotic and stressful and beautiful and amazing all at the same time. It’s different than I remember it being… far less secular and more dirty and gritty, but wonderful nonetheless.
Tomorrow we are taking a three day tour through the Sahara desert. I am excited not only to see the desert and experience its secrets, but also to not have to make any more decisions for a few days. For the past five weeks we have been GO GO GO, so it will be really nice to just let someone else tell us what to do for a bit. Sometimes it’s nice not having to use your brain.
Happy weekend** friends!
All in less than 48 hours!
Oh what a life we are living right now!
*This was a complete fluke incident, as Morocco is typically an incredibly safe place, especially for tourists. What we saw could have happened anywhere, it just randomly happened right in front of us. Even with that incident, we have not felt unsafe.
**you know life is good when you have to look up what day of the week it is…