When I arrived on US soil after my anxious stay in Colombia, I nearly kissed the ground.
Then, of course, I realized I was in the Miami airport and kissing the ground would probably result in illness. And so I just kissed the ground in my head and sent a silent thank-you into the ether for being out of Colombia and onto my next adventure.
Then, from Miami, I took a series of flights, then taxi rides, then shuttle buses all the way up to Flagstaff, Arizona, where I’ll be cozied up in a little house with a big back yard full of snow drifts until early May.
Flagstaff, if you don’t know, is one of the closest towns to the Grand Canyon. It’s also close to mountaintop ski spots and lower-elevation, sunny, red-rock-strewn Sedona. And it’s where I’ll be spending the next 4+ months of my life.
It’s a much longer stay than I normally do and I’m grateful for it. After the chaos of 2015—the illness, the move from Switzerland, the terror in Colombia—I am more than ready for a long rest somewhere safe and surrounded by old friends.
There are several big reasons I’m staying longer. The first is that after such a tough year, I feel a strong need to be near the aforementioned long-time friends. To have girls nights and double dates and get invited to BBQs and dinners.
I have a few options scattered around the world where I could live down the street from people I love (Paris, Switzerland, Berlin, Pennsylvania…), and in this case I chose to be near one of my best friends and former roommates, Emily, and a handful of her friends and family, who I also consider friends.
The second reason is that 2015 was a hard year on my health. I was hospitalized for some sort of intestinal illness, which haunted me with its side effects long after it had been knocked out by antibiotics. My anxiety triggered headaches, jaw pain, and nausea. I battled with my depression. And when it came time to plan 2016, I knew that my health had to be a serious priority. Staying in one place for 4+ months makes that a little more possible. I’ve already got a cabinet full of vitamins and probiotics, a fridge full of organic food, and a doctor visit under my belt and this week I took up kickboxing (which I look epically silly doing, but is nonetheless fun when no one is watching) and went for a massage.
And the third reason I’m going slow this year?
I really would like to find a home base.
I don’t know yet where that’ll be, but I do know I like the idea of having somewhere to consistently come back to. I really thought that place was Switzerland when I first moved there. I felt this unbridled joy every time I came into my little town on the train. It was home. It was mine. It was where I pictured myself for the long-term. I imagined myself there for six or more months each year and traveling the rest…a good balance between newness and change and exploration and community and familiarity and, let’s be honest, hopefully love.
Of course, that didn’t quite pan out how I’d planned, but even if Switzerland isn’t the place, I still love the idea of finding somewhere I want to come back to over and over again. Somewhere to be semi-settled part-time.
I’ve wondered if that place could be near one of my best friends or perhaps somewhere in Canada (a country I particularly respect right now for their compassionate politics) or perhaps somewhere like Hawaii, where my desperate love for being in the mountains meets up with my desire to be somewhere that never gets too cold. And that’s why my tentative plans include all of those places this year (unless, of course, I fall in love with one along the way and then perhaps never make it to test drive the others). Europe, of course, is also on my list of possibilities, but I’ve neglected other parts of the world these past few years, so now I’m opening myself up to them and their possibilities.
So I find myself back in the US for my first real extended stay in years.
There are already some things I love and some things I really, really don’t. I miss Europe in some ways. And in other ways I’m incredibly grateful to be here right now.
And if you, too, are in the US and want to meet up sometime? I’ll be in Arizona until early May, then road tripping up through Utah and over to Minneapolis and then down to Richmond, Virginia. Then, tentatively, I head up to Canada, passing through DC and Pennsylvania to visit friends along the way, and landing in Ottawa and Quebec City before road-tripping back across Canada all the way to Vancouver. After that, I may sneak down to Seattle and Portland. And then, if I haven’t fallen in love with a place along the way, it’s off to Hawaii for another extended could-this-be-my-home-base stay.