I know, I know, a service year is not really the best time to get in your exploring. It can be expensive and time consuming and when you do a year of service, you commit to being in this one place for a year and being part of that community, whether it be your home or your job or what have you.
But, I've been traveling, and I've had to reconcile the discomfort that's settled inside of me at the thought of all the trips I've taken in this year.
I've mentioned it a million times before and I will continue to do so for forever: I never thought that I'd get away from the east coast. Like, at all. And I've been learning that a lot of that wasn't just because of you know, general lack of funds and experience, but also because of a deep seeded fear that maybe I didn't deserve to see the world.
When you're a kid you kind of get caught up in dreams of Getting Away and Seeing The World and somehow for me, any sort of traveling turned into this weird fantasy realm that wasn't allowed to exist in the current world that I live in.
I never had the opportunities before, the money, the ability, the bravery to travel. It was always sort of a joke. "Let's go to XYZ!" or what have you. You know. Like when you plan trips with your friends, and you look up Airbnbs, and you pick a date, but it's all kind of a joke. Or for later. When you're older and have more money and have more time and blah blah blah blah blah.
So I made a choice, and I talked to my boss, and she said something along the line of, "Jenn, you're young and you have your whole life ahead of you. Go out there and see what you need to see!"
(I must stress, again, how thankful I am for my boss and my placement site and my department.)
So, yes. The traveling.
First, Hawaii (Oahu, specifically) with my sister.
We went as a birthday trip to me (what's up 23!) and because living in California was the closest the Tapler girls were ever going to get to Hawaii. I could literally write multiple novels about the beauty of Oahu. You always knew that you were on an island, whether it be for the mountains or the ocean or the salamanders (?) always darting past your feet.
It was constant beauty. Humid as hell, but worth it. I was incredibly anxious the entire time, but whatever! Rocks stood tall in the middle of the ocean. The waves were either too rough or nonexistent. We snorkeled with sea turtles! We lived in a cabin on a mountain! Oahu had me constantly stunned.
When we returned, my sister was there for a day, and then when she left (Wednesday morning), Ginny flew in (Wednesday night). From there Ginny was around, and we did some weekend coastal driving.
It's bizarre to think that I live in California. It's, like, temporary I guess. But it's so freaking beautiful I just struggle to believe that it's even a real place we can exist. We drove down the coast, along the shoreline, watching big blue waves crash into the cliffs. Then we drove through the mountains, tall and windy and unreal. Then we stayed in a hut in the desert where the sky stretched on for forever.
I even finally got to Muir Woods with those tall, insane trees that disappeared into the sky.
And now here I am, in North Carolina, writing this post from the comfort of the RDU airport.
I traveled to NC last Friday because last year, when I went on a weird trip to the beach with like 15 girls from the internet I had never met, they became some of my favorite people, and it was reunion time. We stayed in a cabin in the mountains of Boone and, after a lot of weird and anxious traveling on my own, it was so nice to be able to sit and deflate for a bit.
Like with Oahu, or the coast of California, I could ramble on and on forever about not only the beauty of the mountains that we found ourselves nestled in, but also the joy of authentic and genuine friendship. Y'all, we don't love our friends enough. We need to normalize radical love with our best friends. I'm serious. There's nothing better.
Multiple family members of mine keep making the "do you ever work" joke, har har har. But I do work! I work very hard, and I love my job very much, and I am incredibly grateful that they've given me all of these opportunities to go out and live my best life while I have the ability to.
I have developed a cold (which I blame on the east coast, as it is WAY too humid here, why) which is rather unfortunate, but I'll be in bright and early on Monday morning ready to finish off my year of LVC.
As of today, there are 33 days until my final day of work. That's about a month. I have about one month left of this program until I leave the Bay Area, my new found family, the home I've stitched together for myself, and have to start anew once more.
I have vague plans. I tell basically anyone and everyone that I have been winging my life since I came out of the womb, and seem to be doing okay, so we're just rolling with it.
But as long as I get to keep making these connections with people (where 11 of us cross a continent to see one another) and seeing the beauty of what it is that's out there (like laying on the beach in Ventura and watching the sky dissolve into a soft rainbow) and forcing myself out of my comfort zone (like unbuckling my life-vest in the waters of Electric Beach so I could dive down and see the sea turtles), then I think I'll be okay.
I'm so blessed, all the time, to have these things in my life. I hope you have these things too.
(ps - happy father's day! unrelated whatsoever but my favorite conversation that I've ever been part of is this one from a few years ago:
spread some love! from jar jar binks)