Two Weeks With a Backpack.

It’s October 13th. 9:11 AM. I’m sitting in my house in Orange County, staring out at my backyard, at the bright blue sky. It’s so clear. I have to blink. Last time I checked, I couldn’t see past the olive tree. The coastal fog had been thick, a white blanket of chilled cotton, trapping the morning in its hazy grip. But it’s gone now. Evaporated. In the time between pouring my second cup of coffee and feeding the dogs, the autumn heat burnt the fog off.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it shall be another glorious day in the golden land of Southern California.

I promise that wasn’t sarcasm. No, not at all.

Would you believe me if I wrote that I’ve been home for two weeks now? That I flew from Europe and returned to America before October even began? It’s true. My Twitter account can vouch for me. And already my time in those foreign countries has faded into a dreamlike bundle of memories. There are so many emotions that swarm when you’re in the midst of travel, so much to absorb and learn. It was incredible.

Yes, we came home early. Rather then backpacking for a full month, we only stayed for two weeks. I could ramble endlessly about our decision and the time I spent in England, Ireland, and France, but I kind of already did. For whatever reason (laziness? an unwillingness to repeat myself?), I feel inclined to post an excerpt from my “private journal”. I wrote this mess two days after coming home (October 2), when I was still encased with jet lag and had consumed too much caffeine. But I think I mused over my travels as good as I ever will, so I’m sharing it here. Understand that I wrote this with the intention of keeping it locked away and dusty, so read at your own risk. It does get sticky…

Europe. Europe. Europe. Heather, my God, focus [don’t tell me that I’m the only one who addresses herself in her journal writing]. Europe was lovely. Exhausting. It was as good as backpacking can be. But backpacking, seriously, where did such a ridiculous notion come to place? When did strutting through foreign cities with your heavy life strapped to your weak back, lost, not knowing where you’ll be sleeping, living like a homeless nomad become such an awesome idea? It was absurd! Absurd! Maybe Amber and I are spoiled, weak, but neither of us could fathom how someone could backpack for a full year.

It was so incredibly cold over there.

London, England.
First night of travel, in London, after 9 hour flight.

But I loved it. I loved backpacking. I reveled in every moment. The physical pain was exhilarating. The emotional trauma was stimulating. A new city everyday, the green fields and fresh figs and historic decaying buildings and the people, all the different people, drowning in the cultures that vary so aggressively, that build these countries piece by piece. I cried most nights. The craze of the day would settle. My depression would crawl up my throat, settle against my tonsils. And finally lying down, finally still, my thoughts would catch up. No, no. Not okay. Ambien. Benadryl. Lunesta. Knock myself out until morning, until I woke, when it was time to again pull on my dirty jeans and strap the wretched pack onto my back once more. But it was okay, it was what I’d anticipated, and Amber and I would dive deeper into which ever foreign world we were currently visiting.

Cork, Ireland.
Where am I? Who am I? What is this thing on my back?

I knew that I had no where else to be, so I didn’t mind the “trials” of being a nomad overseas. But really, how can one mind when you’re witnessing so many beautiful and obscure things? London, Oxford, Sheffield, Cork, Kinsale, Galway, Belfast, Dublin, Tours, Aix-En-Provence, Paris… They were all so remarkable and extreme in their individual appeal. And even now, listing those cities, it doesn’t sound like much, but it also sounds like too much. And was it all just a silly dream, a joke, am I still asleep?

Sheffield, England.
With dear Shola in Sheffield — a definite highlight. So, so wonderful to finally hug such a fantastic friend!

A lot went wrong. It became a hilarity. And I loved every flaw. But not in a self-loathing way. No, because each flaw brought on new flair, brought on adventure and change and ridiculousness and what is reality without a good dose of error? Some of the greatest moments in Europe were when Amber and I were stranded and scared and wondering where we’d go for the night and why are those French girls pointing and laughing at us and how have we wound up lost in Irish suburbia? So when our flight was canceled and we had to take an 18 hour ferry to France, it was just silly. Just classic.

Ferry From Ireland to France.
On a boat! Journeying from Rosslare, Ireland to Rosscoff, France after our flight was canceled due to strikes.

And so when we finally got to Paris, two weeks into the trip, so bruised and weary, and we had no accommodations planned for Switzerland or Spain and couchsurfing was a bust and Amber was missing her boyfriend and had a huge test for work to study for and me? Me? Heather, do you want to go home, do you think we should go home? There’s a flight from Dusseldorf for three hundred euro and you won’t go into debt if we leave now, but if we stay you’ll probably spend another thousand euro on food and hostels and debt debt debt debt and your back hurts, your bleeding internally, and you just want a good salad, a real shower, so yes, lets go home, lets go back, is this a good plan?

Aix en Provence, France.
Amber and I in Aix-en-Provence

I didn’t plan anything for this trip. I didn’t prepare. I didn’t initiate a thing. It was always Amber’s gig — her after college before real job real world backpacking thing. I was just along for the ride. Content. Excited for an excuse to experience something, see new things, shock my system into feeling. So, when I realized how deeply Amber wanted to cut the trip short, I agreed. I contently lied back on the twin sized bed in our dingy Parisian hotel, stared at the sail boats floating on the wall, nibbled on a piece of dark chocolate and said, “Hell yes.” I was fine either way. I could rough it out for another two weeks. I could (preferably — I’m not a fan of debt) go home the next day. So, that’s what we did. Came home. And I don’t regret the decision at all, it was definitely the right choice, and I’m thankful we didn’t let our pride make us stay. It’s nice to still have nine hundred dollars in the bank.

Grenoble, France.
Grenoble, France.

So, now I’m back in California. Back at this dining room table and I know my writing sounds rather insane. And you know, I do indeed feel rather crazy and antsy, but maybe it’s just jet lag and sleep deprivation and an overdose of black tea, or perhaps I’m approaching the end. The end to all things, but what do I even mean?

Rosslare, Ireland.
Ultimate lesson of backpacking? Learn to dance regardless of the weight on your back.

And there you have it. A look into my brain, perhaps? Or maybe my private journal entry isn’t oh so different from my normal blogging style. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter.

As of tomorrow, I’ve been home for two weeks, and I can safely say that my (brief) time in Europe was incredible. It taught me a great deal about myself — my personal strength, what I want out of my life, how blessed I am. It was an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

Alright. This entry is already way too long. I’ll be back again soon!


From now until October 13th I’ll be backpacking through Europe with my older sister.

Will I survive?

I sure hope so. 🙂

See you around Halloween!

Moving Moving Moving.

I’m always moving.

The last time I wrote here, a looming two months ago, I’d just moved from my condo in Colorado Springs to an A shaped mountain cabin in Chipita Park. And now? I’m sitting in my childhood Orange County home. I have moved again. Yippee.

This was always the plan. My return to California had been anticipated since the slushy days of spring. Yet despite knowing I would eventually leave, my reality continued to root itself into Colorado. Attachments strengthened and new relationships bloomed and so now here I am, so close to the ocean, sitting on old memories, slipping into the fault lines I’ve always feared. I feel off here. Backwards. Like I’m walking on the ceiling, like my head has been forced into my gut. I have no direction without Pikes Peak. What is west? What is east? Don’t mind the ocean, it’s not solid, it’s just a dream.

Am I making sense?

I didn’t mean to skip July. I had every intention of writing an entry. But the days spun past and I was happy and living and thoroughly focused on being there, being in Colorado, being with my summer significant other who yes is now a thousand miles away and I miss wretchedly, being at the job I adored, and laughing with the friends who kept me sane. So I shrugged off any guilt in terms of this dusty blog and now it’s August.

Well. It has been August. This month is ending, and rightfully so.

I traveled through Costa Rica for ten days, turned nineteen, left Chipita Park, abused my friend’s couches for a week, and drove the thousand miles separating Colorado Springs to south Orange County. It’s been a full, blessed August.

I wonder how my tone sounds. My current writer’s voice. Do I sound hurt? Enthused? Nostalgic? Flustered? Giddy? Because, honestly, I think I’m all of those things. I’m content and antsy in the same moment. I’m at home but also homesick. I feel like I have altitude sickness, but wait, that can’t be true. Is there a term for when you drop seven thousand feet in elevation and become ill?

People have asked me why I moved. Why I left Colorado Springs when things were so ideal. I had a full time job, I was paying my own rent, I had incredible friends, I loved the weather, the mountains made me saner. So why did I leave?

I have goals. I have dreams. I want to learn and educate myself and grow. I want to attend school and I want to travel this world. I want to write and write and edit until my eyes bleed. I’m only nineteen. I have the universe before me. Colorado will always be home to me, and I do believe I’ll one day live there again, but I can’t work full time and go to school too. And I can’t let my dad pay for out of state tuition when California has a bounty of colleges to pick from. And gosh, if I’ve missed anything these last eight months, it has been writing. Because I can’t write and work full time and go to school and see loved ones too and my brain will shut off soon if I don’t dip back into my fictional worlds. Writing is my food, so why have I been abstaining? Why did I let my days grow so heavy with selling natural foods that collecting words fell to the bottom of the totem pole?

I was becoming stagnant in Colorado, locked in by my job and money, which is so absurd when you’re as young as me. And maybe I sound selfish, maybe I sound immature and naïve and it’s time to grow up, wake up, but if I have the opportunity to pursue other things and try out new games then it’d be foolish to let them pass. And I should be rash and free while I can, right? I should make these silly decisions and obscure changes while I’m young.

The one thing I believe firmly is that I should always follow my gut, trust my silly intuition, not listen to anyone else, and do what feels right. I can honestly say that I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made. And Colorado… My time in Colorado was irrevocably impacting. More than just a brief residency, but a period that showed me glimpses of the person I want to be, of the life I want to live, the moments I need to see.

Elevation 14,110 Feet.
And now I’m back in California. I’m not sure where I’m going. If I start school here, it won’t be until January. I’ll be backpacking in Europe for a month this fall. I have no doubt that when I settle again in the states, writing will reenter my days – poor FIY and AFOT have been deprived. I also hope to focus on publishing again. I don’t know what classes I want to take this spring semester, or if I should move further north or save money and remain with my family, we’ll see. I really don’t know what I plan to do or if my move was futile or if I’m going to go insane with so little rain and if this blog entry has proved me warped in the brain.

But what I do know is that everything will fall into place, and honestly, I’m excited to see where this manic road takes me.

A Move.

And just like that everything came together. As usual, blessings rose out of havoc. When I last wrote here, my entire world was teetering towards the edge. I returned home to Colorado (I’d been visiting in California) to discover that a family of four had moved into my area of the condo I was residing in. My privacy was ripped, my sanity illusive. I’m introverted by nature, thrive off of alone time, so the intolerably close proximity with the clan of strangers was utterly consuming.

My options were limited. A month ago I’d concluded that I’ll be returning to California at the end of the summer. That’s another story in itself, but basically, I want to start focusing on school and I can’t afford the out of state tuition that Colorado offers. So, journey back to coast I am. It’s a tragedy really, but I’ll be fine. And I’m savoring the time I have left here. But when I realized I had to get out of my present housing situation FAST, my reality began to boil. Where could I find a two-month lease? For a dreadful day, I was positive I’d be leaving Colorado at the end of June rather than the close of August.

And then the universe shifted. I found a home. I found a home where my housemate is okay with my mere two-month stay. I found a home high up in the mountains at 8000 feet yet still only twenty minutes from work, where the rent is the same as my old place and I can still be financially free. I found a home with seclusion and privacy, a home surrounded by pines and cottonwoods and elms, a home where you must remember to put the bird feeders inside for the night unless you want a visit from the local bears. It’s so ideal, so lovely. It doesn’t feel real. It all happened so quickly – in a matter of two days I posted the ad on craigslist, received a reply, saw the house, got my key, and moved in.

Like it was meant to be, everything worked out. I’m so gleeful this happened — so grateful that family kicked me out of my old house, that I was forced to venture into the foggy unknown. I adore change. I adore thrusting myself into absurdly new situations and trust me, this is new. I’m inspired and alive, eager to write, wishing I had the time, but reveling in the spare moments (when I’m not at work) where I can breathe in the crisp air. How is it possible that just a twenty-minute incline can cause such a difference in environment? Chipita Park could be another universe in comparison to the mania of my beloved Colorado Springs, where I still venture down to every day for work.

And so there you go. That’s where I am. Just moved. Am now just living. Twirling through each day I have here, as my time in Colorado truly is fleeting. But that’s life, always churning, always altering in some way. That’s what makes it fun, right? All of this chaos. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Loss of May.

What is up with me and Spring and losing pockets of this website? I swear I have some massive deja vu right now. Didn’t this happen last year?

Long story short, when my host moved name servers a few weeks ago I didn’t get the memo and in result lost all updates and changes made here in the month of May. Lame, right? Kind of a bummer. But luckily my updates were minimal and few, so it’s all good. Serves me right for not backing the place up regularly.

Things haven’t been so flawless lately. There’s been a lot of turmoil, a lot of potential change, a lot of shit going down. I keep waiting for things to straighten out. I keep thinking that one of these days I’m going to wake up and for the first time in a long time have a seamless day. But I suppose that isn’t reality, so maybe I should be grateful. I always say that my greatest fear is a stagnant world. And things were getting a bit dull, I suppose, so hooray. Gotta love exhausting change! I have faith that everything will work out eventually. I’m not giving up yet. There is a light ahead. There is always a light, no matter how dim…

And I also got a new tattoo!

It reads, “You are not in the world… the world is in you.” A statement which has resonated with me quite deeply this last year and I have to say, I’m beyond happy with the tattoo. The artist is my co worker’s mom who works independently (as opposed to in a shop) in Taos, New Mexico. She was in town randomly and it all just came together. The rest is in the ink.

I would share the potential forthcoming changes that I hinted at, but everything is so elusive — I think I’ll wait until I actually have an inkling of a clue as to where my life will be in the next few weeks. We shall see.