The Sweet and Salty of 2018: Reflecting on a Year of Love and Travel

“Even sweetness can scratch the throat, grandma said, so stir the sugar well.” – Ocean Vuong in “Notebook Fragments”

The thing is, I don’t like sugar in my coffee.

But, I was taught recently that a spoonful of sugar in the pot — if you do it Turkish style — makes the final product creamier, frothier, tastier. I have to admit, he’s right.

2018 had its sweet moments, but I didn’t always stir well. Sometimes the crystals tickled, other times they scratched at something deeper.

Ah, it’s 2019, you say? Tis the season to reflect on all the sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami, (etc.) of 2018 then! And if I’m good at anything it’s being in my own head too much.

This year had the added benefit of electronic journal entries to easily review (compared to past years when I swore by pocket-sized, hand-written notebooks).

What did I learn?

  • I worry a fuck ton (about money, what to do in life, what is meaningful to me, etc.). I tend to be hard on myself
  • Climbing is hella fun. Traveling is hella fun. Simplifying my life was hella chill. Pursuing what struck me as genuinely interesting was… hella cool
  • I want to build a life with someone. I seek love and connection. I want security in a relationship
  • Time spent with others is one of the most important treasures
  • When I am acting cold, there is something I am avoiding
  • I need to be more honest with myself (the easiest person to fool is, well, yourself). As an extension I need to communicate doubts and concerns more often (be more honest with others)
  • I am prone to fixate on what is not working
  • I miss building something. I long for the creativity and strategy of creation. Doing originative, self-expressive work each day is important
  • Commitment is a weakness (in relationships and projects). I’m prone to give up too soon
  • I am full of contradictions (enjoy travel and also want to be a part of communities, seek novelty and also want to build something meaningful)
  • I want to use my writing as an opening up of sorts, for myself and others; To provide a place for readers to feel comfortable exploring self-doubt, to introspect, to question, and to face uncertainty. I want the reader to feel connected, as if they are talking with a kindred spirit
  • I aim to give more of myself to others in 2019 because I feel I’m operating from a more secure and self-understand place

It may sound as if I’m being a bit salty (I forgot, you need to add the lightest pinch of salt to the pot too), however 2018 was an undeniably sweet year.

Now to you, what did you learn in 2018?

 

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Photo by the author

 

For the Sake of Self-Interest and Re: The Return to Europe

Europe, Round 3, began as a non-start. 

 

I arrived at Logan on Saturday night nervous about the next leg of my trip. Terminal E is laid out in a long corridor, and I began distractedly searching for Primera Air to check in. I walked down the length of the counters, back and forth. No signs. Nothing.

 

This seemed normal because when I flew with Primera in September, they had set up a temporary desk for check in. I watched the process in action and figured this might be the case again.

 

Impatience got the best of me and I decided to confirm (or discredit) my hunch. I approached a Virgin Air attendant and inquired, “I know this isn’t any of your (bloody*) concern, but where do I find Primera Air?”

 

He said, “They don’t operate here anymore.”

 

I says to the guy, I says, “Oh, you mean I’m in the wrong terminal?” My thoughts immediately concentrated on the logistics of a transfer and the remaining time until boarding.

 

“No,” he emphasized the word, “they are no longer in business. Didn’t you read the news?”

 

“Ummm.”

 

“You can talk to British Airways or Norwegian, they are offering discount tickets…” He failed to mention that Virgin was offering a similar deal.

 

Turns out, Primera Air had declared bankruptcy on October 2 (two weeks before my departure). Apparently, they decided it was unimportant to alert paid passengers that their tickets were now good for kindling.

 

Thus my attempt to leave the country crashed with a thud.

 

Inside Boulder Bar, Prague.
Inside Boulder Bar, Prague. Climbing is fun. So I went during a layover.

 

This scene was fitting for how I was feeling: The trip isn’t as easily navigable; I am ambivalent.

 

My main jam for the next few months is to focus on climbing.

 

Continuing the theme of 2017 and 2018, I’m pursuing activities that have long been of interest (but which remained neglected). Specifically, farming and traveling.

 

I believe you need to pursue interesting — the notions that you get truly excited by — because this teaches you about yourself.

 

Yet, there has been an associated compunction with these endeavors, that self-interest is a thin distance from selfishness.

 

I am grappling with two concepts that focus one’s energy in opposing directions:

 

1) To understand myself better while 2) broadening my concern for others.

 

One lens is angled inward, while the other enlarges your circle of care. My hunch is that expanding this circle from misguided principles leads to disdain and burnout. Or, you need to know yourself in order to truly care for and help others.

 

In advance of boarding the plane (eventually, on Sunday night), I kept deliberating:

 

What does a life focused around pursuit of self-interest and connection to community look like for me? 

 

That is now the central question of this trip.

 

*Because British