Travel Narrative

Getting it together

I cherished my only day off this week sitting in a coffee shop off George’s Street in town yesterday.  My first choice, a tea house with a somewhat cult-ish vibe, was strangely closed so I ventured next door to Accents.  It’s a lovely spot, the staff is always super friendly but the music they pipe in over the loud speakers takes me back to what I can only describe as church camp in the 90s.  I got most of this post finished there though so it seems to be something I can work around.

I’ve been weirdly disorganized and unsettled lately.  I had been extremely stressed out about work leading up to my vacation and was looking forward to unwinding and finding a nice centered state.  Instead, my trip turned out to be complete chaos.  I added a day onto to the beginning of my trip and met an old friend from Baltimore in Brussels for what was only supposed to be about 24 hours.  We had a great time, did some cool stuff around the city, then it was time for me to leave.  But things kind of hit the fan when I got off the train at Brussels Airport, running extremely late yet managing to get to my gate only to discover I had left my shoulder bag (with passport inside, mind you) on the train.

From there, my plans, previously wrapped into a neat package, were completely out the window.  I spent the rest of the time flailing through the days.  I went back into Brussels that night (after waiting two and a half hours at the airport for the train with my bag on it to come back) and stayed with my friend at his hostel.  The next day, Thursday, I set off for Ghent to visit an awesome girl I met through my ex — proof that even shit relationships can be good for something!  Her apartment was beautiful, her and her boyfriend so welcoming and so much fun.  They lead pretty idyllic lives; cycling into town to do shopping, hosting dinner parties, playing music and cooking amazing food.  I felt completely comfortable and at-ease there.

On Sunday morning, I set off early for the train station and went back to Brussels Airport to catch a flight to Vienna to meet back up with my friend.  The walk from the central station to the hotel in the northwestern sector of the city was beautiful.  The architecture is classic and stately.  It felt very sophisticated there, everyone was dressed as if on their way to the theatre or symphony.  It didn’t feel like the type of place I would connect with.  And I didn’t.  Nearly everything we wanted to do that night and the following Monday was closed.  We ended up not doing much of anything, having cheese and crackers with cans at the hotel because we gave up on finding an open restaurant nearby.

When I left for the airport on Tuesday, I was ready to go home.  I got there, made my way toward security, only to notice my flight information wasn’t on the departures board.  As I waited in line at the Aer Lingus desk, I looked back over my ticket.  It was for the following Tuesday.

I was able to book a flight for the following day, for a 170 EUR fee, but was about ready to lay down on the floor of the airport and give up.  I was frustrated, stressed, unhappy, but couldn’t go back home.  I had messed up, the whole trip was messed up from more or less the beginning, and I kicked myself for my bad decisions.  But in those moments, you either wallow or you buck up and get on with it.  I booked a hostel back in Vienna and ended up staying in the room the entire day watching the second season of Search Party on my phone.  I could have gone out and tried to make something of the day but I just couldn’t bring myself to.

The next day, as I rode the bus from Dublin airport that would take me home, I felt so happy to be back.  There’s something to be said for home, wherever and whatever that is for you at the moment.  It takes a real shit sandwich of a time away to make you appreciate how precious those places are.  I may not be in love with Dublin but it’s home for now and that in itself holds a place in my heart.

I felt profoundly unhappy for about a week after I got back.  I was rushed right back into the relentless pace of work and was almost worse for the wear than before I left.  It’s hard to get out of those funks.  It takes a tremendous amount of resolve to drag yourself back up into the sunlight.  But in the end you have decide if you want to keep feeling bad or if you want to do something about it.  I spent some time considering what my priorities were and what I wanted to be doing.  I’m feeling much more positive after this frank observation and analysis because I’ve realized I’ve let myself lose sight of things I love the most.  I started ballet again and am actively seeking out writing opportunities.  I am working on a piece for Matador again after being approached by an editor.  I will be starting another article on studying abroad, hopefully within the next week.  But the most surprising lead dropped into my lap yesterday.

I signed up with an app called travelstoke two days ago because I was intrigued with the concept.  It’s almost like a stripped down version of TripAdvisor — anyone can contribute a place, be it a bar, restaurant, landmark.  You just need to add a picture and a little description and it posts to the app where people traveling in that area can view it.  I thought it would be fun to write little snippets for places around Dublin, so I posted my first place.  East Side Tavern has become more or less my new local since we have been going in a lot after work.  I know the two main bartenders by name and the owner let us into the hip hop party free of charge last Saturday night.  I felt I should give it a shout in this relatively new app so I added a picture I took over Christmas, a snappy little blurb about the tacos and vibes, and submitted it.  It was fast and fun and I began to think about the new places I’d add.  Then yesterday, as I made my way to Good Food Store for lunch, I got a notification that I had gained a follower.  Next thing I know, this new follower, who turned out to be the app admin, had messaged me asking if I was interested in a paid collaboration creating content in the form of lists for travel destinations.  Could all freelancing just be this easy?

So here I am again, at a coffee shop after work, working on writing.  These listicle-type articles make me wary because I feel like they’re extremely subjective.  Who’s to say that my top 10 are anyone else’s?  I like weird shit; shady bars filled with old men and smelly carpet, restaurants in the back of little Korean grocery stores.  I’m not sure the travelers these publications appeal to would care to step foot in the spots I frequent.  In this way I don’t feel like a credible source and the thought of that can be a little crippling.  But regardless, I forge on.  I want to try to get as much published as possible for a portfolio because at the end of this year, I’d ideally like to spend a few months in France, learning French, and doing freelance writing and maybe some English lessons here and there.  It’s just the flicker of an idea for now but one that’s extremely appealing.

I’ve found that life, for me, is a continual balancing act.  Finding what makes me happy, then kicking rocks when it doesn’t anymore.  I’m not sure I’m built for a career.  I like the experiences I gain from doing different jobs; using different skills within my skill set, and learning new ones.  I like the excitement of setting up a life in a new place.  While it can be uncertain and unstable at times, I think it’s the life I’m meant to lead.  That said, I’m planning to start an online editing certificate next month through UC San Diego.  My work will pay for it, seeing as it’s relevant to my current position, and it’ll be a helpful feather to add to my cap when I attempt partially surviving on a freelance income.  As long as I’m moving forward and planning my next move, I’m content in the current moment.

3 comments

  1. Your writing makes it easy for a reader to empathize. Here’s wishing you fewer troubles on your next day(s) off.

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