I started this blog on May 7, 2008, exactly 5 years ago today.
When I started this blog, I was ending a 10-year relationship. At the time, it felt like my whole world was breaking apart. But I went away that summer to teach English on a cruise ship in Alaska. And it was there that I realized I could rebuild my life however I wanted. It was an ending, but also a beginning.
A lot has happened since then. I decided to give up a great job at Cornell University so I could pursue my dream of living abroad. I got rid of most of my earthly belongings, and moved the rest into storage at my mom’s house in the woods of northern Wisconsin.
I spent another summer teaching English on a cruise ship, this time in the Caribbean.
I moved to Indonesia for a year. Living in Indonesia wasn’t always easy, but I met some of my best friends on this planet while working on those islands.
I took a new job in Turkey. I loved Turkey. I hated my job. I left after a semester.
I moved to Ecuador (awesome) for a new job (also awesome), and have now been here for almost 2-and-a-half years. I’ve added a couple more dear amigas to my collection of amazing friends.
These 5 years have included a lot. I’ve lived or worked in 6 different countries, and visited a few others. I studied 2 totally different languages (Indonesian and Turkish), and greatly improved a 3rd (Spanish). I’ve eaten food and learned to cook dishes from all over the world. I’ve made some cultural bumbles. I’ve celebrated some cultural victories. I’ve learned a lot about other countries, about my own country, and about myself.
I’ve walked through acres of lush green rice paddies. I slept in the desert, under a dense blanket of stars. I rode in a hot-air balloon. I’ve hiked up rocky, sulfurous volcanoes and snow-covered slopes. I jumped off some waterfalls. I’ve strolled miles and miles and miles of beaches. I’ve meditated over warm, glowing sunsets.
I have been humbled by the beauty in this incredible world of ours, and grateful to experience so much of it.
I have been touched by the kindness of strangers. And acquaintances. And dear friends. There have been flirtations. And dates. And one or two heartbreaks. There has also been side-splitting, tears-running-down-my-face, oh-my-god-I-can’t-breathe laughter.
These 5 years have included a few earthquakes. Some pick-pocketing. A mugging. A couple hundred plane rides and hotel rooms. And approximately 10 bajillion presentations. There have been all-nighters (thankfully of the partying variety, not the studying variety). There have been hangovers. There’s been food poisoning. And fevers. And one broken toe.
And there has been dancing. LOTS of dancing. Something that had slipped far, far away from me during the previous 10 years. Something that I am so thankful to have back in my life for the utter joy it brings me.
One of my above-mentioned friends recently observed, “Look at ALLLLLLL you have done by NOT ‘settling down’… You’ve lived like a thousand lives.” It’s true. These 5 years have been full. My heart has been full. And if you’re reading this, it probably means you contributed something, in some way, to enrich my life these past several years. Thank you. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you.