Two years ago today I was just south of Tel Aviv (Israel) writing the first post of this blog. I was there for the wedding of my friend Ruma's brother. Has it really been two years already??? Oh, what a trip it's been!
Let's review, shall we?
First, the easy stuff. The biggest change this year is, of course, that I got married to an amazing person. Diana has changed for the better how I view the world. She has a warm heart, a sharp mind, and absolutely no fear. I'm a better person for sure for knowing her. Thank you Diana for allowing me to be a part of your life. I'm definitely NOT perfect and I make waaaaay too many mistakes but you keep loving me anyway. I love you!
What else? Hmm...it all seems like a blur! Well, since starting this blog, I've written 260 stories including this one, which works out to about one every three days. I love that 49 (almost 20%) of them have been about food! To see some of the "best-of" stories from everything that I've written, check out this "7 Posts" story I wrote for a blog carnival. (Note that the posts that are the Most Popular and Most Successful have both changed since I've written it.) Regardless, I can't believe how much there is and how much I've enjoyed writing it all. The people I've met, the places I've been, and the things I've seen have been breath taking. They include stories about my visits to:
Canary Islands (okay, part of Spain, but still...)
People often ask me what my favorite place's been so far. It's a really hard question for me to answer because it depends on what you mean. For example, if you're talking in terms of overall culture or food, it's got to be Japan. If you're talking about the place that surprised me the most then it's Colombia. The place where YOU should go and you've never even thought about it then it's China. Best place to move to/live in/retire to would probably still be San Diego, Hawaii, Barcelona, or maybe Colombia, or maybe southern Mexico, or maybe Antigua in Guatemala. Argh! Too many good choices! See, it's difficult as they've all been my "favorites" in one way or another because I've met so many people and have learned so much in each place.
As I wrote while in Israel that day, "This blog is a place for me to record my experiences, memories, and what I've learned during my time traveling." So, what have I learned? The lessons that I've learned can be somewhat summed up in the following three ways:
1-Experiences are way better than stuff. I'd rather go to a new place, meet a new person, eat a new food, or so on than buy a "thing". Stuff "costs" so much in so many ways that I'm amazed at what I "spent" to maintain it for so long. I'm so much more content that the things that I need all fit into two suitcases and weigh around 100 pounds or so.
2-After that, it gets much "higher level". It's that the people around you are what's most important - family and friends - the people that you know and meet every day. If it wasn't for the people around me I don't know where I'd be.
3-Finally, the other lesson that is soooooo hard for me to actually incorporate into my life and brain is that I can't change what's happened, that I have to live in the present moment, and can only influence the future. I'm still working on this one every day and it's a tough one.
If you want to read more about why I originally left San Diego and what I've learned since, I recommend reading the story called "Done" that I wrote last summer. I think it's probably the best thing I've written and, for the most part, it's still very true for me today.
What's next? Diana and I are weighing our options. She's finishing up her PhD this semester and we'll be free to go and do what we want where we want. We're both looking for full-time gigs, and, if you've got any ideas and connections, we're open to hearing about them (hint, hint!). I know that for both of us we love living in Barcelona but the force (of family) is strong with these two (say it like Yoda). I guess we'll have to wait and see where life's path takes us.
I'd like to take a moment to thank all the people who have supported me on this journey. If you've: shared a meal with me, taught me about your life and/or your culture, talked with me, let me sleep at your place, invited me to a party, held my hand while I cried, played soccer with me, had a laugh with me, let your kids hang out with me, drank some wine with me, took a walk with me, or were just my friend, thank you! Without your love and support I would have never been able to make it this far. I'd also like to pause to remember those who are no longer with us. I miss you and still think about you each and every day.
Thanks once more for spending your time reading what I've been writing. I still hope that you enjoy reading it as much as I am living and writing it! What a wild ride!