July is five days away and I haven't written a blog post since April. You see, my plan was to travel to Taiwan and Brazil, mold myself into the ideal version of the woman I've been steadily on my way to becoming, and then come home and write this earth shattering blog that proves just how different I am.
It's not that I am not different, I certainly am, it's just that I'm different in ways I didn't plan for. You see, it used to seem all about leaving a mark on the world that couldn't be erased, to do something so important that for decades after, little girls would be motivated to follow in my footsteps. I used to think I was unique and special and that I had something magic inside of me that was going to make things better, globally.
In the past two months, I've learned that globally is a really, really big word because it is a really, really big world that can feel very teeny or overwhelmingly huge depending on the angle. There is a song by the Old 97's, that says, "Some day somebodys gonna ask you a question that you should say yes to, once in your life." I always dreamed of my question and thought it would be different than all the other questions, like some real profound shit. But I've realized that life isn't one huge question like some people would like you to believe, it is a million different questions and some of them feel huge and some sound like, How sweet do you want your tea? But they all mean something. Most questions relate to our survival in some way or another, and by survival I mean the way we manage to continue to exist even when we are assholes and exist in the best way possible for ourselves.
What I'm getting at is this: maybe there isn't going to be one remarkable question for me, one job opportunity, one career, one degree, one book, one journey, one person, one experience that puts it all into place, that makes the stars align, and my jaw drop, and all of my wildest, fairy, mermaid dreams come true. One by one they will chip away at the girl I was always told I needed to be in order to become a better person. When I was gone, there were so many times I wanted to say no, to stay inside of my comfort zone, to snuggle up in a hotel bed and sleep until I got home. But something inside kept making me say yes, I guess the fear of the regret that would ensue if I passed up an opportunity I may never get again. And so I did all sorts of absurd shit that I will never forget and now I can use a machete and kind of drive a speedboat and make a caipirinha and build a palm leaf roof and ask people invasive questions and be wildly illiterate and eat little baby squid mouths (RIP) and so much more. I left a huge piece of my heart in Taiwan and I guess a little in Brazil. I guess, after all of it, the most special thing I've learned is that every life has an impact and a meaning; that the people who don't go down in history for being saviors sometimes lead far kinder lives, it is more special to make people feel safe and loved than to show the world what you're capable of. I don't care about being remembered or being profound like I used to, I don't have enough time to worry about getting my name etched in a plaque. I care about making people feel better, brighter, lighter, more capable, because there really should be more of that feeling to go around.
I learned just how important companionship can be, whether it's the group of students who were willing to sacrifice their time to translate for us, the remarkable women I spent my time abroad with, the amazing entrepreneurs who shared their time, stories, love, and talents with us; the people who loved me while I was away from my loved ones.
On a Sunday afternoon, we pulled up to a pepper stand on the side of a mountain in Hualien, Taiwan owned by an older couple. She was canning while he was cutting and seasoning; we had a huge language barrier between us, but she happily fed us the best hot peppers I've ever eaten. As we ate enthusiastically, sloppily with chopsticks, she brought out more and more delicacies, thoroughly enjoying our pleasure. We couldn't buy anything from her because we wouldn't have been able to get the jars through customs, but nothing about her actions made it seem like she ever expected us to buy it, she was just sharing her wonderful food with some wandering foreigners.
And so, it has become less about the New York Times Bestseller's List and more about poems and stories that make people feel less alone in their feelings, less about doing the "right" thing and more about doing the thing that makes us feel good, less about a flawless resume and more about learning something from everyone I meet, less about tomorrow and the next day and more about the next hour.
And now, I'm home, and there is stuff all over the floor and I don't know where to put it.