It’s difficult to wear so many hats on the road (or on the open seas, as the case may be). This outpost of stories on the internet, this collection from two best friends off to see the world, feels wildly schizophrenic at times.
We’re foodies. We’re fans of great design. I love taking pictures. Ted loves drinking coffee. We play the tourist part, signing up for guided treks, sailing the seas on a cruise ship, and snapping cliched shots at guidebook hotspots.
Beyond that, though, we’re thoughtful, introspective people with a heart for people living below the radar. Our experience of deeper truth leaves us hungry for reality.
Ted and I talk often about what we’re observing, and how our observations impact what we think about life in this world, for us and for others, both in far flung countries and in Portland, Oregon.
At the conclusion of those experiences and conversations, I’m left writing…processing thoughts for my own satisfaction and sanity, and also writing in effort to ponder out loud so others may share in the discoveries and wrestlings, both.
But in truth, writing about what we see and hear is a joy and a burden all at once.
Some days, this travelogue is a home to first hand reports of struggles around the world: socio-economic, ecological, etc., etc.
Some days, of course, life on the road is rosy! Deep, beautiful shades of red. And we share stories of eating cake and shopping for clothes and visiting parks and spending luxurious time with each other and with new friends…
Other days, though, the world presents troubles, and this tired mind doesn’t feel like wrestling. I freeze up and don’t know what to share or how to write honestly.
It would be easier to gloss over the full range of facts and relish the sweet memories alone. It would be easier to paint only the rosy pictures.
It would be fun to slap up the glamor shots of travel and convince you all that every day is peachy and the world is our oyster. But traveling with open eyes means the compassion that rises up in our hearts cries for authentic acknowledgment.
I want to share it all with you. I don’t want to skip the truth.
But I don’t want to spend needless hours obsessing over writing blog posts when life is ready to be lived alongside Ted, my faithful traveling companion, who is often patiently waiting for my attention to lift from the computer screen toward him and the day’s adventures.
I don’t want to look back on this year and wonder why I bothered writing if I missed out on living.
I don’t want to censor out the cheery in a misguided effort to be sombre.
I don’t want to skip the uncomfortable if it holds the key to growth.
My feet feel held to the fire.
And so, I ramble on, and I write some times and pause at others.
I share the personal stories and the helpful traveler-tid-bits, too.
I try to be real, and I try, too, to be unapologetic. (And then I write posts like these to half-apologize.)
Sometimes I shoot from the hip. Sometimes I pour over words. Sometimes I wrestle and pray and wonder how to carry and then share the lessons we are just beginning to learn from this grand year’s experiment.
Sometimes I have a whole slew of pretty pictures and I just want to plaster them all over the screen to share my childlike joy – forget the text!
Sometimes, I want to write a post that simply says: Dad and Mom, Noah, Joel, Drew, Seth, Jesse, Dave and Barb, Josiah and Gabby and Carson, James (and Jessica!), Seth, Micah, Kaila, Grandmas and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins – we love you all and miss you more than you know. A family dinner around a full table never sounded better! I want to say that Steak in Buenos Aires doesn’t really hold a candle to Dad’s skills at the grill. I want to say that crossing this ocean on a ship makes me think of Papou (my great-grandpa) and his voyage to America across the Atlantic at age 19; it makes me think of my own 19 year old brother (love you, Seth!) and how much I’m proud of him and sad to miss his upcoming graduation; it makes me think, as I sit alongside white-haired cruisers, of my grandpa no longer living on this earth and the way that he would be the great storytelling life of the party during these on-board afternoon teas…
I want to write a post that says Darian and Bekah, Sara and Ryan, Jenna and Evan, Heather and Micah, Emily and Paul, Kat and Caleb, Alan and Billie Jo, Brian and Miranda, the Albina Literary Society, Stepping Stone Apartments, the whole Bensola gang and family at Clear Creek, Clark and Cathy, Alyssa and Bryan, Heather and Mike, Rosalie and John, Spencer and Ursula, Jay and Holly, Gavin and Jim, Sam and Amber, Katryn, Tom, Jane, Lucy (and so, so many more — please don’t feel slighted in the least if I missed including you on the list during this midnight typing session) we miss you so and your names are always on our lips as we break bread and long for time with people who know and love us well. We are always remarking to each other about which of you would most like x, y, or z in our daily adventures, whether gardens or thought-provoking books, delicious meals or terrible jokes, cheap bottles of wine (you know who you are!), or all-out Tourist vs. Wild challenges.
And so, I sit here, on a cruise ship couch, balancing my laptop on my knees and trying to balance my words. Watching the battery charge drain lower and wondering whether or not these sentences make sense.
I think about the un-posted stories buzzing in my mind, inspirations and memories scratched out in random jots on the pages of my notebook. I wonder if I’ll have time to tell you about the slums in Rio and the World Cup/Olympic re-development efforts that pique the curiosity of this young landscape architect. I wonder if it makes sense to write a single word more about cafes in Buenos Aires when we’re already a hundred cups of coffee into following weeks.
I chide myself for writing posts out of order – gasp! Posting from Spain when I’m not done writing about Brazil or Morocco or the islands in between.
I bring this post to a close with my own reminder to myself: Oh, little obsessive-compulsive mind. Put your fears to rest. Write and share in freedom. This is your life. These are your words. It was never asked of you to be perfect. It was asked of you to be real. And those who appreciate honesty from the road will be happy to read along…
This post, written on a ship, published from land, comes at a crossroads on our travels. We’ve jumped continents. We’ve left the boat, and we’re spending time with friends Mike and Tracy who have traveled from Oregon to spend the next two weeks exploring the coast of Spain with us. We have more stories than can possibly fit here; keep an eye out for the highlights as they are published, stay in touch on Twitter and Facebook and send us a hello, and click over to our Daily Travel Journal for nutshell versions that are posted as wifi-access allows.