Before, when you took off and walked down new, foreign streets, it was in defiance. Not that you knew it then, of course, but it was how you were going to prove your worth to yourself. Not anybody else, just you, which is somehow worse. Nerves crackling as you walked jagged sidewalks — I can learn this city, you would challenge yourself, I can crack its codes. This would signify a permanence you could take with you, despite the changing tides of your life, despite the uncertainties. It would carry you through.
Today is a good day in New York: it’s blazing hot, I found a place with affordable coffee near my new place, and only once did I have to sidestep day-old vomit on the sidewalk. Success!
Maybe I should start again. In the few months that I’ve lived here, I surprised myself by coming to love New York — albeit in the complicated way that you love a best friend who is all sorts of awesome but goddamnit does he have to chew everything so noisily? — but I never actually expected to like it. You know how some people have those fantasies (read: delusions) about a place? That if they move to New York, they will instantly become Audrey Hepburn beautiful, develop a cast of Friends friends, and finally make it big?
While in Pai, a friend and I decided we should do some meditating. Maybe I’ve just been hanging out with more hippies in the past year, but during my time in Melbourne, I heard about Vipassana meditation a lot. Friends tossed around the words ‘life-changing’ and ‘fulfilling’ and it seemed to mesh with the reading I was doing on being present.
‘It’ll be fun,’ my friend Sarah said.
I was still on the fence, but the fact that we were staying at Spicypai Hostel in a 26-bed dorm was good encouragement to leave town.
Last May, I sat at a café in California covered head to toe in desert dust. It was another couple of hours’ drive to the campground where we’d spend the night, and I took advantage of the coffee break to check my email.
The first message I opened was an article pending my edits, but before I had a chance to read it, I flicked open its attached pictures. I was struck by the first photo I saw – hundreds of lanterns spilling into the night sky, stars dotting the horizon. Monks in orange walking amongst candles. Light lasting silently, steadily into the night.
I’m in the early stages of planning a trip around Queensland, which I’ll most likely be taking on my own. On that token, I thought I’d share an article I wrote for WildJunket a while back on the topic of solo female travel, which remains just as relevant today as it was then.
My last few days in Colombia were spent in the fortress-sealed city of Cartagena de Indias, a blend of romantic colonial buildings and the daily rush of modern living. The narrow streets were a mix of people, horse-drawn carriages, bikes, and cars, with street names changing by the block. In the city square, a group of teen boys challenged each other with breakdance moves, propping their boombox against a statue of national hero Simon Bolivar.