Longing for Sunny Skies

On Saturday, we were blanketed with about two feet of snow. It took days for things to clear and, now, instead of pristine white, we’re left with partially melted piles of grayish sludge. Even though I love my office window, when I look outside, all I see is icy gray, murky skies, and barren trees. It’s dispiriting.

Plus, this has been an exhausting week.

Work has been especially busy, not helped by having no less than 5 hours of meetings a day. It’s so hard to get things done when all of your usual time is taken away. Plus, weird things seemed to crop up more than usual. I ended up declining a meeting yesterday with the note, “Things have gotten progressively more strange and I need to be at my desk.”

Plus, I haven’t slept well, so I’m physically exhausted, too.

It’s hard to be optimistic during weeks like this one, hard to see that they’re not always like this. It’s so hard not to be dragged down by all of the gray and murkiness and frustration.

Beach ReadingSo to remind myself that there is something better, I think of days like the ones we had in Puerto Rico, days filled with abundant sunshine, good food (not pictured), feet in the sand, The Dude, reading, crashing waves, and endless blue skies.

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Farsickness

I’m restless.

I’m almost always restless, my mind wandering to and longing for places far from here. This time of year is particularly bad, though. The holidays are a draining time for me and I’m not a fan of the cold (okay, I mostly hate the cold, particularly if it snows). So, mid-January is often filled with thoughts of different places, imaginings of the life that The Dude and I could have in those places.

Though I’ve never lived anywhere else, Pennsylvania has never really felt like home. I’ve always imagined that I’m meant to live somewhere else. I’m not quite sure where that is (though, even with the less-than-ideal weather, I’d love to give London a try!), I just know that it’s not in the Northeastern US. There’s much to love about this region, but it’s not for me.

Or, maybe I’m just tired of it.

In any case, I’m restless and dreaming of our next vacation. There are so many places I’ve never been, but that I’m anxious to see. Here are five of them:

  1. Denmark:
    Between castles, sweeping countrysides, wild-looking forests, and beaches, I want to go everywhere and see everything. Oh, and eat until I burst.
  2. Petra, Jordan:
    An ancient city carved into cliffs, Petra also looks like something out of a fairy tale. Or, at least like somewhere in Middle Earth. (“Speak friend and enter”?)
  3. Ireland:
    The Giants Causeway, the Book of Kells, and THE CLIFFS OF INSANITY (aka, The Cliffs of Moher). Enough said.
  4. Isle of Skye, Scotland:
    Any places with fairy pools is a place that I need to go.
  5. Santorini, Greece:
    Just looking at pictures makes some tension melt from my shoulders. Plus, I can only imagine how good the seafood is.

Word of the day: Fernweh, a German word that describes the longing one feels for  distant places, the craving for travel.

Yup, that pretty much sums it up.

Snapping Pictures

I used to take my camera everywhere, snapping pictures whenever something caught my eye. I didn’t care what it was, I would document it.  I stopped in part because my camera was heavy and I was tired of carrying a (super) huge bag (not that I carry a small bag, but it’s too small for my camera). But, I also stopped because I felt like I was sacrificing experiences in favor of imagery. I would sometimes get hyper focused on getting the perfect shot, and I felt like I was always missing out on something. Sometimes, I felt like I was removed from whatever was going on.

Still, I really miss taking pictures. I miss going through the images I captured and saving the best ones. I miss the times when I accidentally caught something unexpected. And, I miss having fun with photo editing.

This is picture was taken outside of a restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland (Seacrets, for the curious) and I remember having so much fun playing with the image until the word “Taxi” seemed to glow from atop the circular metal sign.

Taxi Stand

I guess I could start taking more pictures with my phone, but the camera really leave a lot to be desired. Then again, maybe that’s just an excuse. What would it hurt to try?

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Dreaming of Monkeys

This time of year, work is crazy. Classes start in less than a week and everyone, vacation-brained and sunburned, is stumbling back onto campus, trying to make the transition between summer and endless reading and essay writing. Since our department does a large chunk of project work during the summer, I only get to take a few days off here and there; no vacations for me until late September or early October.

So, I dream of vacations, both past and future.

I loved Mexico. I loved the food and the people and the ruins peeking out where you least expected them. One of my favorite places was Calakmul, an ancient Mayan city buried in a tropical preserve. I loved climbing around the ruins, surveying the jungle below, and eating our bagged lunch at the foot of a crumbling temple. I especially loved the monkeys swinging through trees right above my head; I had never experienced anything like it.

Monkey

Young Spider Monkey in Calakmul

This little guy, silhouetted against trees and sky, was my favorite.

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Beachy Keen

I want to go to the beach.

I want to sit with The Dude and watch the sun set over the ocean and buy too much salt water taffy. I love hearing the waves break against the shore and the gulls screeching overhead. I want to squidge my toes in the sand, look for shells, eat seafood until I burst, and smell the briny air.

Cape May

The Dude and a Sunken Ship

This picture is from our first vacation together. We went to Cape May for a few days and did everything I mentioned above. I want to go again.

Today.

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Church in the Mist

Today, I really miss England.

To be fair, I miss it most days, but today I’ve been thinking about our time in Tintagel. The morning after our arrival was cool and foggy (shocking for England, right?), the perfect weather for traipsing through fields to Tintagel Parish Church.

Tintagel Church

Rising Through the Mist

The rising sun burned off the fog as we walked, but the mist clung stubbornly to the church and grounds. We were the only ones around, and can still remember how quiet everything was. Walking up to the the shrouded church was beautiful and eerie, like the veil between worlds had been lifted.

If only every day could be as magical.

 

Have Elephant, Will Travel

When I was six, I found a small, gray elephant.

No, not a real one. It’s a wooden elephant, dove gray with white eyes and white lines to outline his ears and legs and tusks. I found him in a hotel room when I was at the beach with my parents, aunt, uncle, and cousin. Though I had been on trips before (to Disney, to Cherrystone, Virginia), this is my first memory of staying in a hotel room and not with family or in my grandparents’ trailer.  I thought it was all very glamorous. Glamorous, and a little overwhelming.

See, my mom is a bit of a neat freak. So, before we got to the hotel, she warned me dozens of times to not touch anything without asking her first. Always an obedient child (seriously obedient; I was never even close to grounded.), I readily agreed, nervous that there were germs and other icky things  just waiting to jump out at me. At first, I was good and didn’t touch anything. Scratch that, I was afraid to touch anything.

But, then, while she was unpacking and I was exploring, I found that little elephant. He was just sitting there, tucked between the bed and nightstand. It was like he was waiting for me. I picked him up, giggled, and put him in the pants of my favorite doll (clearly, the world’s best hiding spot).

And, I never said a word to my mom.

Elephant

Traveling Elephant in Tintagel, England

Since that day, I’ve always known where he is, my little wooden friend. He’s been with me to Mexico and London and everywhere in between, slept with me when my parent’s got divorced, and made me feel safe during my first solo trips. He’s become a talisman of sorts, a traveler that goes where I go, that helps me get where I need to be.

He’s not something that I look at every day, or even every month. Sometimes, I forget he’s there. But, as soon as I plan a trip, or need a bit of direction, he pops into my head and I find him on The Dude’s nightstand or in an inside pocket of my purse and I reassure myself that he’s there, waiting to travel with me again.

Oh, his name? Predictably, unimaginatively: Traveling Elephant.