I started So Many Places four years ago this month, 1.5 years before I even left my home in Portland, Oregon to set out to see the world. But the real journey began not when I boarded that plane bound for Ecuador but when I started this blog. Because starting this blog was the way I declared, “I’m doing this,” even though I had no idea how the hell I was going to do it.
The original So Many Places logo
In the beginning of this journey I was only brave enough to give myself one year. One year in the world. I bargained with society and with the pressures I felt to color within the lines. Just one year and then I will go back. And then one year came and went and I thought, but I am just beginning.
Brian and I, we’ve changed our itinerary. We’ve taken jobs. We’ve ended up in places we never thought we would go. We’ve even missed, at times so profoundly it doubled me over in pain, the life we left behind. The life with our dogs and our house, a clean bed at night, a place to call home. But if we’d kept that life we’d have sacrificed what these past four years have taught us. If we’d kept it, other things would have happened and they would have been good, real things, but they would not have carried us here.
Standing with St. Joseph (he helps sell houses) in front of our For Sale sign.
Sometimes I do wonder what we are doing out here. But I always come back to remembering how I felt before I left, like I’d woken up in the morning and, in the confusion of darkness, dressed in someone else’s skin. Back then, I knew without a doubt that what I was doing wasn’t it. I did not see what it was but hoped and believed that if I followed that string that connected me to my soul that it would lead me somewhere worth going.
And it has. It has lead me into the Himalayan Mountains and down the cobbled streets of Europe and through the jungles of Vietnam. It has lead me around the world. But more importantly, it has lead me to myself. Because I have become the person my wild-haired, wandering child-self would be proud of. I’ve become the woman I recognized as me all along.
Out to lunch in Paris, France
Part of the problem with being human is that after awhile you begin to take even the most amazing parts of your life for granted. Sometimes I forget that I did not always feel the way I feel today. Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am to do what I do, to have been born in the country I was born in that allows me the freedom and opportunity to chase the dreams that I am living today. It has not been easy but it has always been possible. That is not a fact I give thanks for enough.
I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know if I’ll always get to live the life I live now, a life on my own terms, a life of writing and adventure and freedom. I hope I do but one cannot guess the future. Four years ago I couldn’t have guessed that I’d have had addresses in India and Mexico and friends around the world. I couldn’t have guessed that I’d have been hired by a national magazine or written a book. Our imaginations are often smaller than the reality of what our lives can grow in to.
And so I’ve learned not to guess so much about what comes next. Instead, I work towards what I want, I even pray for it, but I also know that maybe I don’t know it all. Maybe there are other forces at play.
I want to thank you all for the role that you have played in my journey. It still shocks me that of the hundreds of things that vie for your time in a given day that you read this blog and give a little of that time to me. Those of you that find this blog, I think we want the same things. We want a life that feels lived in the best and most authentic way possible. And while that looks different for everyone we all know the feeling when we find it. Thank you for sharing the journey, and your own journeys, with me.