Growing Pains: Trading Short-Term Gratification for the Life You Really Want: London, UK – May 2014

Now that I’m back in my second home with the man I love, I get to unpack, and establish some semblance of a routine again.

So why is there a lingering sadness in me?

I guess I expected that by now, I would’ve had this grand epiphany about the rest of my life. But right now, I have more questions than answers. And the uncertainty is crushing me. I started to let the pressure take me a dark place.

But I’ve been here before. The sleepless nights, the constant knot in my stomach…it’s all part of the process. These growing pains are a familiar struggle I’ve come to love and hate.

This is the part where you may be tempted to turn around and go right back to your safe zone…to the familiar. But you have to just suck it up and keep going. Otherwise it’s like hiking halfway up a mountain and then stopping to wonder, “Wait. What if I don’t make it?”

Well shit. You made it this far, haven’t you?

Besides, you can’t lay claim to what you almost did. You have to be willing to go through the discomfort and the fear that things probably won’t turn out the way you envision them.

But that’s okay. Just do you. In fact, if most people approve of the decisions you’re making, you’re probably not living your path.

The people around you should think you’re at least a teensy bit batshit insane. Not everyone is gonna “get” you. But everyone isn’t living your life – you are.

Growth requires you to trade in short-term gratification for a long-term payoff. Not everyone is willing to wait, or sacrifice, or do what it takes to nurture their goals over time in order to watch them bloom…

Like spending your weekends partying instead of studying
Spending instead of saving
Or settling for Mr/Ms Right Now when you want Mr/Ms Right

There’s nothing wrong with immediate gratification. The problem is when you become a slave to it and then complain about how you don’t have the life you want.

So what are my growing pains about?

I’m coming down off my travel high and coming to terms with the fact that I can’t travel like this forever – and honestly, I don’t want to. Travel was my short-term gratification.

I’m also approaching the end of my six-month limit in the UK, so I’m about to feel the full brunt of a true long-distance relationship.

But damn…

How am I supposed to go home and get a normal job and be away from the man I love (again)? Seriously, fuck immigration laws right now. I hate that I can’t live where I want to without the government’s permission.

To find your soulmate is a gift. But to find them on the other side of the world is either a cruel joke played on you by the universe, or an immense test to your resilience, your faith, and your resolve as a couple. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s both.

Six months.

That’s all the time the UK government gives “tourists” like me to stay in London without a settlement visa. So here we go again – counting down the days we have left with each other before we have to say goodbye again. Back to middle-of-the-night Skype convos, I miss you’s, and countdowns to the next visit.

It takes an immense amount of faith and patience to see these growing pains through. And although “winging it” has been my M.O., it won’t work for an international relationship. You can’t just casually hang out and see where things go. You either take legal steps to be together, or you don’t. You’ll either make the relationship a priority every single day, or it will die off.

One of you will have to leave their world behind in order to make the other person their new world.

These growing pains are real. But I know they’re testing us and building us into an unstoppable, unbreakable force. This payoff will be greater than anything I ever rushed into. That I’m sure of.

So to my friends in Cali…if you ever catch me gazing off into space, glancing at my phone, or smiling with my mouth but not with my eyes…it’s because half of me is 5500 miles away.

And I’m just holding it together as best I can.

Memoire of the Traveling Chucks

IMG_7775.PNGOf all the items sitting in your closet or dresser right now, is there one that has an exceptional story to tell?

Maybe it’s a ring that was passed down from your grandmother to your mom to you.

Or the SF Giants shirt you’ve worn for a week straight during the last three World Series they’ve won. Forget Panda or MadBum, you just know they’ve won because of that raggedy t-shirt. You have newer shirts, without the beer stains and tug marks, but they don’t have that same story to tell.

Mine are my classic black Chuck Taylors.

IMG_7778.PNG

Dublin, Ireland

I bought them before I left for Europe. I needed a pair of shoes that I could wear with almost anything. Because when you’re living out of a suitcase and lugging it onto planes, trains and subways, every single thing in your bag needs to serve a purpose.

So if you’re that chick who brings 5 pairs of shoes to a weekend getaway, this life is not for you.

In my Chucks I could stand in crowded trains in London during rush hour, climb three flights of stairs to my flat in Barcelona with bags of groceries, and hike the hills of Cinque Terre.

When I traveled alone, those damn shoes ended up in a lot more of my photos than I did! I hated taking selfies. I felt so awkward. And I felt even MORE awkward asking a complete stranger to take my picture.

So I took “shoe selfies”: My Chucks in front of the docks at Riomaggiore, my Chucks at Parc Guell in Barcelona, my Chucks on beautiful sidewalks in Nice and Dublin.

IMG_7777.PNG

Nice, France

My shoe selfies may not be the most Instagram-worthy pictures.

In fact, I never posted most of the photos I took. But when I look at those busted-up Chucks, with the faded laces and scuff marks, I smile.

I smile remembering the places they’ve taken me. I smile thinking about how I got sick of wearing the same 7 outfits but somehow, my Chucks went perfectly with all of them. I never got tired of wearing them.

Even on those nights when I took myself on a date, and sat at a brasserie alone on a Thursday night with my glass of Sangiovese, I wore my Chucks. And I gave a satisfied smile as I watched droves of club-hopping high-heeled girls stumble on the cobblestone roads, like drunken little newborn fawns.

I can’t do that shit anymore. Because COMFORT > EVERYTHING. I’ll bust out some heels every now and then, but not when I travel.

My Chucks may not be sexy. They may not be classicly feminine. But I was wearing those Chucks the day I met my fiancé in London last year, paired with a backwards snapback cap by FR£SH State Property.

And he thought I was so damn fly, he put a ring on it. Psshhh. **flips hair**

Now that I’m back in Cali, I’m afraid to wear them. I don’t want to erase the adventures they’ve had.

IMG_7776.PNG

Parc Guell, Barcelona

Maybe I’ll just keep them in my closet, until a new journey comes calling. Or maybe I’ll give them to my (unborn) daughter one day, when she tells me how she wants to experience other worlds besides her own.

And I hope they bring her the same magic.