First, a confession:
Our two months in Dubrovnik this spring were hard on me.
First, Luna was almost constantly sick. Pancreatitis. Allergies. Stomach issues. Itching. The vet started joking that Luna was pretending to be sick just to come see them twice a week.
And then there was my computer.
Long story short: if your MacBook’s battery dies “conveniently” just after the warranty is up, getting a new battery outside a major metropolis is essentially impossible. And the stress of having a computer that shuts down randomly and must always, always remain plugged in (despite the fact that the magnetic plug attachment de-attaches at the slightest touch) is intense.
Add to that sharp stomach pains (which seem to be caused by the stress of the sick dog and half-broken computer) and the normal but intense stress of a partner who’s starting a new business.
Pile on some tiny frustrations. Like bus drivers who say no to Luna (in Croatia, it’s always up to the bus driver whether they take dogs; there’s no consistent policy in place and so you can end up randomly stranded). Or roadways that feel too busy and dangerous to cycle on. Or a xenophobic neighbor who screamed at me twice about something I didn’t do.
What you get in the end is a stressful couple months. And my anxiety, which was pretty under control during our time in Italy, started running high again.
Of course, it could have been much worse. But the point is that it wasn’t fun.
And that colored my experience of Dubrovnik.
Dubrovnik may be beautiful, may smell like honeysuckles, may have the blue-blue of the Adriatic stretching alongside it, may be just a short ferry ride away from the best restaurant I’ve eaten at in Croatia…but it’s also imprinted with the near-constant anxiety and churning stomach of those thousand small stressors. It’s imprinted with a fear of losing Luna, a fear of the impact something as simple as a battery has on my livelihood, a feeling of powerlessness.
If you’ve ever felt your body tense up, your stomach clench, your heart race because of something as small as a smell, a taste, a familiar feeling, you’ll know what I mean.
Sometimes places or things leave a very physical imprint on us. Smells, sights, sounds become triggers. Our fight or flight impulse reacts whether there’s truly danger or not. Because when there was danger or stress or genuine fear, we smelled paint or chicken soup or thyme. And now when our body smells those things, it gets ready to run.
And so went my time in Dubrovnik.
So when it came time to move a few hours inland, to cross the border into Bosnia, the release of tension was palpable.
Which is one of the things I love about constant travel.
Every move is a chance to reset.
It’s a physical, geographical opportunity to take a few deep breaths, adjust your mindset, and embrace something new. Be it a new outlook, a new way of doing things, or simply the hope that a change of scenery will change some of the circumstances outside your control.
Maybe Luna won’t be allergic to Bosnian pollen. Maybe Mostar will have an Apple mechanic. Maybe it’s simply an opportunity to reset my zen.
I’m not sure it works the same for everyone, but for me, that physical movement is a powerful force for change, not only external, but internal.
They say wherever you go, there you are. And that’s true. But it’s equally true that a fresh place is also a good excuse to start over.
In Croatia, I’m the Gigi who has neglected her No Technology Fridays, but in Bosnia I can be the Gigi who is committed to unplugging and getting outside every week.
In Croatia, I’m the Gigi who stayed in instead of taking the walk up the hill to see the sunset because I was feeling too exhausted. In Bosnia, I can be the Gigi who says yes instead of no.
Of course, change takes effort no matter where you are. But there’s something about constant movement that makes me feel like I always have a reset button. It’s like each place is a chapter, and even if this chapter was hard, perhaps the next will be good, fun, interesting, surprising, or just better.
So, here’s to movement. Physical and mental. Of circumstance and optimism. To Mostar and Konjic and then Slovenia.