Well, today my sneaking suspicion that my luck in life was running particularly low was affirmed by a most unfortunate incident involving my computer and a tall glass of orange juice. After suffering through a few rounds of hsyteria characterized by a bursting into tears, frantically calling everyone I know with any computer knowledge, blowdrying my computer while making sure to avert tears from contact with computer, chasing the bus, missing the bus, deciding to drop out of law school, deciding not to drop out of law school but resigning myself to a low expectation for my GPA, I finally gained some clarity when a wonderful friend by way of my lovely, incredible, amazing roommates frantic message to wonderful friend and others, got me to an apple store where my computer was proclaimed dead on arrival but my hard drive thankfully, was intact. I did not tell you all of this because I think you will find it riveting or because I even find it riveting, but I do find it cathartic and right now whatever makes me feel ok about life seems like the thing to do. A week before finals, I had the most unproductive day ever and spent the last of my savings on something I already owned. But through the madness I realized a few things. 1.) The people in your life are the most important thing you have, no matter what happens, as cliche as it sounds, if you have people who care about you, you will survive the seemingly impossibly negative setbacks life will inevitably throw at you. 2.) I am not immune to the emergencies and contingencies that I hear about but expect will never happen to me by means of probability or simply by the fact that they never have before. If it can happen to someone else, it can happen to me. Proceed accordingly. 3.) Hysteria never gets me anywhere yet it is my first reaction in a crisis. Certain events warrant hysteria, but that still doesn't make it productive or useful. 4.) Decisions made in the heat of a panic are the worst decisions you can make. Breathing isn't just for yoga, it's for life. 5.) Things can always get worse. Maybe not the best lesson to learn but expecting that they can probably makes it a lot easier to handle when they do. 6.) Life is short but it is also long. Enjoying the moment is crucial but know that the hard times are woven into a long tapestry of experiences that make the later joy even more special. 7.) Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT allow open containers of liquid on the same surface as your laptop, EVER. But especially not before your first semester of law school finals. Clearly, the experiences of the last week have given me perspective. But perspective is nothing without a life to apply it to. So now I will go forth, and study, and live, and love, and know that life will only throw me more challenges but that how I handle them is half the battle.
Love makes you do crazy things. Like decide to drive to Ithaca at 5 am on Thanksgiving morning. Sadly, my grand gesture did not go quite as planned. I crashed my car somewhere on Route 15 in Pennsylvania on Thanksgiving morning on my way to visit to Ben. While I am working hard at being my own individual, life without my best friend is hard and sometimes unbearable. No matter where I find myself in this bizarre and sometimes unruly existence, there is someone out there who can always make me feel like I am home. For this, I am thankful.
Regardless of whatever existential crisis I have been undergoing for the last few months, a very real, tangible reality has set in over the last few days. My first semester of law school finals looms ahead, and with it, my future. Dun dun dun. Cue Hitchcock montage. Realistically, and in my fantasies, I will look back at my first semester of law school and the insecurities, as all part of some greater process that made me the successful, intelligent, wise international lawyer of my future. My fear over my civil procedure final will seem unwarranted, my confusion over counter-offers more acceptable, and my unreasonably imprudent, tortious worrying over torts, a relic of my past. (For the non-law people, I really went all out with the nerdy, legal puns here).
In the mean time, I am trying to remember to breathe. I have found a yoga studio in DC and while the sound of sirens is not exactly the sound of silence I prefer, anywhere I can Om among yogis, and pose like a warrior is an improvement. Now if only they would call tada-asana mountain pose. I looked it up. It means mountain pose. This is not just a "Boulder thing", I digress. I am definitely intimidated by law school, a feeling I can only recall to this extent during my brief academic endeavors into mathematics. Hopefully, finals will provide some affirmation that I am in the right place, doing the right thing, and that I have a future in this new, legal world. Or I will fail, and move to India where I will study Iyengar yoga at an ashram in Goa, hang out in Shri Lanka, and pick grapes in France. For now, I am just trying to stay sane, study hard and hopefully, remember to breathe.
As a side note, my dear friend from class sent me this song which I love for it's somewhat terrible French, and not so subtle hopelessness that I will now share with you.
I wish I could say that I'm doing better than the last time I posted. But I have never been anything but honest in this blog and I intend to keep it that way. On the eve of my 24th birthday I am feeling alone. Law school, the end of my four year relationship, and a move to a new city where I am still a stranger have left me feeling lost and I can't seem to find myself. I keep thinking back to the sign in the entryway of a hostel I stayed at in Amsterdam that said, "Home is in your head." For some reason, with my pack on my back and a map in my hand I felt more at home than in this room where I have a bed to call my own and keys that let me in to the same apartment night after night. In a strange way, I find stability in the unpredictability of travel. The cynics say you can't live like that forever, have to settle down, being a nomad is a fantasy fulfilled by gypsies, criminals and musicians. While I feel unsure about most everything these days, I feel confident in the fact that I have never done things the way people tell me I should and although the road may be bumpier for it, at least it's exciting. Law school is not for the faint of heart and I am learning quickly that I will have to be stronger and more resilient than ever before to survive. I feel like life has been going in fast forward and I'm trying to hold on to moments and memories of my life in Boulder while months are passing and I am a resident of Washington, D.C. without actually living here at all. Tomorrow begins a new year of my life, hopefully a year in which I will learn how to balance who I was with what I am now, where not being part of a half doesn't mean not feeling whole, and where I will have to learn new phrases in new languages so I can survive in far off places and sleep with my pack at my feet. Here's to next year.
Lately I have been deeply troubled by the choices that have led me on the path I am currently pursuing. The able nomad in me thought a move to D.C. after months of traveling and years of moving around would come in stride. I thought wrong. The adjustment to DC has been wrought with setbacks, confusion, disillusion and a strong dose of apprehension. Never one to settle anywhere long, I found an unbelievably warm, comforting and peaceful habitat in the Boulder bubble. I left with tears in my eyes but hope in my head for a future in our nation's capital pursuing the law degree at a top 5 International law program. What I have found is an amazing city full of intelligent people, beautiful architecture, a school that works me like a dog but leaves me more legally minded every day and an apartment that I love. What I have left behind is what concerns me; in my mind's eye I see a place full of natural wonder, people who knew me as well as I knew myself, my soul mate and to an extent, my identity. Days at the library, highlighters drawing on me in my sleep, an empty bed and a general feeling of displacement have dominated the menu of my life recently. I am beginning to realize the choices I make are often the type that "sound good on paper". The rationale thinker in me wants to say I'm on the right path, but my heart feels like I fell down the wrong rabbit hole. If I chose this life, why does it feel like I'm an actor in someone else's script?
Looking back on the past year, from graduation to traveling across the world, to my life in Boulder, to Cape Cod and to my move to DC, I feel a sense of accomplishment and a sadness for what I call the "Endless Summer", is truly ending. The freedom I have experienced in the past year has opened my eyes to new possibilities for my future, the people I have met have inspired and changed me and the dreams I have fulfilled leave me delighted. After such a year it is difficult to return to the society I have been living on the fringes of, or outside of for that matter. Broke, but happy, I experienced life with enhanced senses, enlightening myself and experiencing everything. Now I have a lease, possessions, am enrolled in law school and my Benjamin is in Ithaca seven hours away starting his own new reality. Tomorrow I begin law school, quite possibly the most intellectually challenging and intimidating adventure yet. I am pursuing a JD/MA in International Service and I am accompanied by some of the brightest people around. I look forward to the challenge but I would be lying if I said I wasn't terrified, too. So wish me luck, keep the Legally Blond jokes to a minimum, and here it goes!
By the time we reached Bogota, our trip was winding down and the reality of life after South America was setting in. The beaches of the Caribbean left me feeling warm and glowing and it was with a reluctant sigh that I boarded the 23 hour non semi-cama bus to Bogota. Passing through lush green rolling hills, tiny villages selling fried everything and arriving in cold, rainy Bogota left me feeling a bit alienated. Curled up in an unfamiliar place with memories of Australian friends, white sand beaches and the last camping of our trip, the first night was a little rough. The next day I warmed my bones with some dark coffee and wandered the streets, impressed with the bohemian murals and political messages. The overwhelming vibrancy of the art made me see Bogota with fresh eyes despite the constant drizzle. The art scene, evolving from a tattered and complex political history evoked memories of Berlin. Both places are still evolving, moving forward from the unrest to a brighter, smarter and more beautiful future. Broke, caffeinated, and in love in Bogota. Not a bad way to finish an epic journey through South America.
Northern Colombia was simply magical. The magenta bougainvillea tumbling down burnt orange stained Spanish Colonial buildings on cobbled streets of old Cartegena gave way to day dreams of Gabriel Garcia Marquez as a young student following the revolts of Bogota's past. At night the city came alive with rum soaked salsa dancing till the early hours of the morning. The generations of Colombians sitting and talking in poetic Spanish rhythms made me realize I was experiencing something unique, historical even. After years of civil and political unrest, Colombia is safe enough for gringo backpackers to dance salsa and lay beachside, wander into the Amazon (But not too far in..), and converse with locals about what it means to be a Colombian in 2010. The sky seemed bluer, the ocean clearer, the sand whiter and the people more beautiful in Colombia. Our adventures to an island where we slept in our tent on the beach eating fried fish and plantains, slicing mangos with a pocket knife and swimming amongst the starfish will keep me daydreaming for months, even years to come.
A hotbed of unruliness, misguided passions, disobedience, and overall debauchery, one might call Iquitos the Vegas of the Amazon. Unreachable by road, this Amazonian city in the depths of Peru was a whirlwind of uncharted territory, absurd interactions and rogue lifestyles. The Belen market with its Amazonian pharmacy, black market animal sellers, strange fruits, piranhas, and endless bananas was a veritable orgy for the senses. The streets are filled with mototaxis, swindlers, sellers of impossible dreams and wayward French ex-pats and characters of all types. Fish scales float down the street of the market, while giant cargo boats swing travelers in hammocks to Brazil and Colombia. The thick air of the Amazon lingers into the night as friends from the Amazon beckon you to drink cane juice. Indigenous women spread tapestries with Ayahuasca visions on the banks of the Amazon River littered with Coca Cola bottles. A strangely addicting place full of temptation.
Working on a farm in the Amazon was one of the most outrageous and gratifying aspects of my trip. While the endless mosquito bites, banana themed diet and bathing in a river of neon spiders left me a bit out of my element, the stars above my head at night, the life force of the plants and animals and the synergy of the environment left me craving more.
Please forgive my lack of blogging! As our trip began to wind down so did our bank accounts and Internet became strictly utilitarian much to my Blog's chagrin. However, I am back and able to recount some of the amazing experiences we had in the last month of our trip. In Chiclayo we found ourselves in a pickle as we searched every bus company in town for a way to get to Tarapoto where we would then get to Yurimaguas and take a boat along the Amazon River into Iquitos. After many warnings of , "Es muy peligroso," and not much else, a kind old man showed me a newspaper in which the road we were attempting to take had been destroyed by a 6.4 magnitude earthquake the night before. Stranded in hot and steamy Chiclayo inland from the beach with the most machismo, cat calling locals everywhere was not the best option for waiting around for road repair and I began to feel melancholy. After brainstorming in our ridiculous hostel room, Zach, Ben and I decided to head up to Mancora while we altered our plans.
Mancora turned out to be beyond a highlight in our journey and the best detour I have ever taken. As our bus ambled up the coast amongst giant dunes of ancient sand, we began to smell the fresh ocean air and my anxiety was quelled. We turned a corner and the ocean spread out before my eyes like a giant oasis of life and tranquility. We hopped in a moto taxi, the mode of choice for travel in Northern Peru and found a little spot full of Indonesian style palm thatched bungalows and hammocks everywhere outside. After throwing my pack down, I promptly headed out to the beach where a thick fog made the distant fishing boats look as vague as an oil painting. The next day was gorgeous and we played in the frothy Pacific ocean water for hours letting our concerns about reaching the Amazon drift out to sea. Nights were full of debauchery with thumping music at sandy beach bars, followed by impromptu bonfires with interesting Peruvian locals. At Green Eggs and Ham, our favorite spot to eat owned by a Southern couple from the states we would enjoy tall stacks of fluffy pancakes and fresh jugo de pina with a touch of peach. Days of surfing, sun bathing, and frolicking faded into dinners of fresh tuna in terriyaki sauce, cold beers and late nights. Despite its location on the Pan-American highway, the duality was more interesting than conflicting as buses zoomed by on their way to Ecuador and trucks rushed by unaware of the paradise on the other side of the road. Tanned and tranquil we reluctantly hopped on a bus to Lima in order to make our way to the elusive Amazonia.
Our time in Lima was short and I spent most of it in bed unfortunately due to a terrible cold I caught at our hostel in Cusco. We stayed outside of the city proper in Miraflores, a wealthy neighborhood technically considered to be a suburb. A walk along the beach revealed a strange hybrid of highway and sand that was quite uninviting. So why is Lima known for their close proximity to the ocean? One word: Ceviche. This incredible dish is one of my favorites and originates in Lima. Limeños, people from Lima, indulge in long ceviche lunches and we were fortunate enough to join them on our last day in town. Ceviche is a dish composed of raw fish cooked in the acids from lime and sometimes lemons. Limes are in abundance in Peru where Pisco sours and ceviche originated. The small round limes are sold in giant bags and can be found in most hostel fridges it seems. We dined at La Mar which is said to be the best place to enjoy ceviche in Lima. We ordered the sampling ceviche composed of small dishes of several different types. I had no idea ceviche came in so many shapes and colors and such a range of complex flavors. From squid in an Aji pepper marinade to red tuna with seaweed and soy, they were all delicious and unique. Truly a tasty way to end a quick visit to Lima!