Countdown to Barcelona

In about one month, I’ll be taking my very first trip to Europe. To be specific, I’ll be going to Barcelona, Spain for five days at the end of February with two of my closest friends.

Since 2014, I’ve managed to book an international trip to a different continent each year. In the summer of 2014, I traveled to Melbourne, Australia. In the spring of 2015, I traveled to the Philippines. And now, in the winter of 2016, I’m making my way to Barcelona, Spain.

After telling several people, it always seems like a shock to them that I hadn’t chosen Europe sooner. If anything, I’ve done the opposite of what most people have done, which is go to the furthest countries instead of the nearest. Nonetheless, I couldn’t be more excited to finally cross Europe off my list.

To me, traveling the world was always something that I wanted to do. Yet, it always seemed impossible due to my finances. I was fortunate to have been able to travel throughout the United States in 2012-2013 because of my job, but after leaving that job, I assumed that the extent of my travels would have to be placed on hiatus until I was a bit older. But, somehow, I was able to find the time and money to travel abroad sooner that I had thought.

In all honestly, I’m not sure exactly what I want to see or experience yet. Every time I travel, I research lightly, keeping a few specific places in mind and then just winging it once I get there. I like to go off the beaten plan, explore for myself, and figure out what locals do for fun. After asking around a bit, all I know is that the food and drinks are amazing, the architecture is phenomenal, and shopping is endless.

I’m looking forward to this new adventure, especially since it will be the first time I travel internationally with the two friends that I’m going with. Traveling is not an easy task. Taking the beautifully edited Instagram photos out of context, traveling can be exhausting and difficult, but that’s the beauty of it. It truly tests your limits and brings our your character. And the people you’re with is what really makes the experience worthwhile.

I have yet to travel completely alone yet. I’m still afraid. I’m not sure if I’m ready for it, but I know that when I do, I’ll discover something amazing about myself.

As far as this trip goes, I’m just excited to have fun with my friends.

“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

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New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down

I haven’t felt many positive emotions towards New York City lately. This is mostly circumstantial, in light of the recent events that have happened to me, so I’m writing this with a slight bias. But in the last few years, I haven’t had the best memories to associate with this city and it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

When I first moved here, I set the bar really high for myself. I still had that post-graduate fire, driven towards a successful career. I envisioned a life that would weigh more on the fun and exciting side rather than the difficult and discouraging side. It comes in waves though, like anything in life.

There are moments like last week when I was reunited with a good friend from Australia whom I haven’t seen in over a year, which coincidentally brought together a group of friends in whom I hardly see anymore.

And I keep asking myself the question of whether it’s New York City or if it’s just me. As the great Sinatra once said, “If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” Well, Sinatra knows his stuff. It’s true. There is no life like New York City.

So, I’m not sure if I’ve done my time and proved to myself and others that I can withstand a beating by living here. I’m not sure if leaving this city will change anything – If I’ll find a better job, or a boyfriend, or a cheaper apartment (I’d most likely find a cheaper apartment). I’m not sure if it’s the mental state that I’m in or the city that I’m living. A lot of people take the action of changing their environment for a better life. I’m not sure if that will work in my case. I’m not sure if I just need to figure things out still. All I know is that I don’t know.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from New York City, it’s that it’s constantly changing. Change, ironically, is the only thing that tends to stay the same here. People come and go, jobs come and go, apartments come and go, relationships start and end. It’s a vicious cycle.

To me, New York City can be summed up perfectly in the words of E.B. White’s, in an excerpt from “Here is New York”:

“There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born here, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size and its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something.
…Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness; natives give it solidity and continuity; but the settlers give it passion.”

I’m the settler who is trying to re-discover my passion for New York City. I’m trying to get back to the place where I was filled with ambition and fire. I somehow lost it along the way.

Who you meet

There’s a quote from the movie “Love and Other Drugs” that meant a lot to me the first time I ever heard it and it still means a lot to me now. It goes like this,

“You meet thousands of people and none of them really touch you. And then you meet one person and your life is changed forever.” 

I’m writing this because I know that the person whom I’m writing about is going to read it. And I actually hope he does because this is meant for him. So, here it is.

I know that a lot of people may disagree with the idea of ‘love at first sight.’ To be completely honest, I still don’t exactly understand the mechanics behind it. People usually tend to call it ‘lust at first sight’ instead because how do you really know that you love someone whom you’ve never met before?

Well, I’m not sure if it was love at the first moment I saw him, but it sure as hell was something. It was something that, little did I know at the time, would change my life forever.

The first time I saw him, I was drawn to him. It was like I knew that something was going to happen between us. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I felt like I was supposed to meet him.

Living in New York City, people try not to make eye contact with others. Yet, we encounter hundreds of thousands of people each day just getting from one subway stop to another. How are you supposed to know who is going to impact your life or not?

Usually, it’s a small percentage. We often make it a point to reach our destination without a single encounter unless it’s with someone we’re already with. It’s funny how that happens in big cities. There are millions of people who are going about their lives, trying to avoid making eye contact with one another.

I always go back to that day when I first saw him and I try to ask myself, ‘What exactly was it was that made me look up from staring at the ground that day?‘ When I saw him, I just knew that he was going to be someone important in my life. Again, at the time, I hadn’t realized the magnitude of what our relationship would become. Little did I know how affected I would be him. And little did I know that he would become such a significant part of my young adult life.

But with that quote from “Love and Other Drugs,” I didn’t know that meeting that one person wouldn’t necessarily mean that you would spend the rest of your life with them. Some people come into your life to play a key role only for a brief period of time. Not all relationships were built to last.

I thought [and still think] that our relationship was short-lived. I wasn’t done getting to know him yet. I wasn’t done letting him get to know me. I still don’t know if it’s done or when it will end or if it will begin again. I’m not waiting, but I’m never sure.

Life works in an odd way in that sense – Not knowing who will leave you, who will come back, and who you’ll meet along the way. But when you know, you know. You just feel it. And that’s an important instinct to trust.

Stronger than that

So, we’ve all flipped the page on another year and now it’s 2016. Many of us like to completely dismiss the events of the previous year and start anew in hopes that Day 1 out of 365 of the new year will be a fresh start for us – A new beginning. Yes, it’s a new year, but it’s not a completely fresh start. I used to look at New Year’s as an opportunity to put the past behind me and move forward. And of course, that’s what we should all aspire to do. We should move forward and constantly keep moving forward. But I don’t think  that we should dismiss the events of the past.

I haven’t had the smoothest or easiest of years in 2015 and I know that I’m not the only one. I know that, compared to others, I didn’t even have it all that bad. Compared to others, I still have heaps more to be grateful for. I’m not bitter or resentful about the unfortunate things that have happened to me last year or any of the past years. And maybe I am writing this with hindsight bias because at the time, it was much harder during the actual heat of the moment, but looking back now, I know that I could never get to where I am without those moments of defeat. F. Scott Fitzgerald once said, “Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat.” Well, I’m so glad that I never stayed down after all of those moments of defeat.

In 2015, I thought that every obstacle was going to be the one that was going to send me over the edge. In 2014, I thought the same thing. And the same goes for 2013 and 2012. Ever since I graduated college, each year seemed to be getting harder than the last. The thing is, I realize more and more with each passing year that life will just never get easier. I’ll only get stronger. I’ll only get better at handling difficult situations. I’ll learn from the past.

We shouldn’t neglect the events from the past because they have made us who we are today. No matter how tragic or difficult our hardships from the previous years have been, they shouldn’t be in vain. They are milestones and they are a part of us. We shouldn’t dwell on the past, but we should use them as a reminder that we are a lot stronger than we think.