August 30, 2012 § Leave a comment
Gone? Well, I’m not completely. Mentally, nor in my physical location… yet.
My NY segment is wrapped up in a month-long memory box, and I’m ready for my new, new plans to make a surprise visit to Oz.
I admit I feel a tinge of guilt. There were many moments here that were placed aside so the Leon story could be told… but now my head plays like those flashback segments in movies and I’m swimming in these teeny, tiny moments; dinner at Daniel, A five hour walk with Mila that led us through four neighborhoods and ended on a rooftop with glass fencing, two guys buying us champagne and a skyline sunset. Chester’s apartment, sun strays leaking in his windows just one story up from the street and Chester’s on his mic singing Frank Sinatra in full karaoke performing fashion. The unbeatable shopping. Celebrity encounters during the food truck event I worked for Zaarly. A playground of gastronomical indulgences, the buzz and heartbeat of a city that you not only see, but feel. Mila said every day I was here I said three things, “I love New York”, “It’s hot out”, and “I miss Leon“.
I love that despite how off the unbelievable scale the stories you hear about NY are, they are all true, and you can almost witness them all for yourself in a single visit. How ubiquitous opportunity is. It knocks there. Ha… literally. One night I was cooking Mila dinner, the third row first column pic in my mind collage below (porcini crusted steaks w/ lemon, chive & tarragon butter, beer-battered asparagus tips & lemon aioli – zing!). I needed a blender. Mila’s got nearly nada to cook with supply-wise. Sorry amica, ’tis true. I asked her to go ask a neighbor to borrow one while I was prepping. She wasn’t up for it, so I headed out into the hallway to start knocking on some doors. I got through four or so, but the only one home was Meggie. Cool gal, had just gotten home, we wound up chatting. Turns out she’s a fitness model for Victoria’s Secret (fun?!) and I returned to Mila’s apartment, not only with a blender, but an invitation to Meggie’s house party Friday night. The party was fun, met a couple girlfriend’s of Meggie’s that Mila & I spent the night hanging out with. On the way out I met a guy named Cyrus. Meggie made a point to introduce us, she told him I was heading to Europe, more specifically Paris, and as Cyrus goes there three months every year, he became the perfect (non-official) couch surfing contact. He gave me his sleek white business card, and told me to shoot him an email when I know my dates to arrive Paree. I made a point to say goodbye to Cyrus before Mila & I left for the night. He gives good hugs. I love good huggers. I love even more, how the most innocent of actions can turn into an opportunity with potential for so much more.
August 19, 2012 § Leave a comment
My father said reading my entries is something like EE Cummings fleeing stream of consciousness. I hope you are all enjoying the strains coming from all 50+ of my ADD-fueled directions. 🙂
Chester and I walked with Sugo along the Chelsea Piers the other night. That was a good talk night. We’ve had many lazy conversations on his saddle brown leather couch, suffering from invisible sun blisters because NY’s turned on the summer heat switch, the windows were open, and we were waiting for his new air con’s to be installed. I’ve put these scattered conversations before me, and this is what I took strongest from all of Chester’s feedback. Likely to be the biggest self-questioning I’ve struggled with over Leon is, how early on, Leon was associated in my head with Ethan (my boyfriend of two years and the last guy I was with before I left for these travels). First of all, there’s nothing wrong with Ethan. But for me, there’s was a lot wrong with Ethan and I as a couple. I doubt he’d disagree with that. But those connecting associations raised many concerns for me. It was Chester placing this ‘mirror’ before me, that has laid those hesitations to rest. Chester said, when I talk about Ethan, all my verbal selections and facial expressions match, and they do not lend to anything favorable. Coming from quite the opposite direction, Chester said I turn aglow when I talk about Leon. That sheen you get on your face that any make-up company would make millions on if they could bottle it up & put it on a shelf for sale. The shade love makes. I needed that. I needed to know that this wasn’t a repeat of a relationship that ended. Of the parts of my lack of attraction to Ethan that I know I never want to repeat. Chester gave me what I didn’t know to ask for, and it had the exact effect I needed because I had no idea that observation was coming. Or that it was there. In my head, I knew the indiscernable connections I had made between Ethan and Leon were hurdles I had to clear, but I didn’t know what I was jumping. I didn’t know how high the hurdle. Now it’s already behind me and I feel like I’m clear to just… run.
I want this love to work out right.
So now what. Where do I run to? Mila and Chester have teamed up on me. I have free flights, right? Number 3 on my list of things to find on this life-changing journey is ‘him’, right? He loves me, right? I’ve found my love for him… right? What if… What if… When it’s time to take a leap of faith, a leap for what you always said you wanted, when you think it’s right in front of you to simply take a step towards, do you always know when you’re looking that time in the face?
I’m sitting on Mila’s floor, packing my seven significantly stuffed suitcases, and I’m simultaneously trying to organize the thoughts with my racing heart. Mila’s words jolt me, “You should just go to Australia. Just show up in Sydney. Surprise him.” She threw in some witty line to say to him, pulling from one of those life-altering sentences he wrote me in one of his letters.
It began as a ridiculous notion. A dare you lay out among girlfriends. A tease. A challenge. But what I’ve come to learn, what’s grown inside me, is these hair-brained notions to fly off into a foreign country, with a skeleton plan, see the world, change your life. And you just go. You just make it happen… This dare has fallen into a head with new perspective, and it doesn’t sound so crazed.
I’m going to go to Australia to surprise Leon.
August 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
After coming home, no, not even. On the ride to my mom’s from the airport, the swarm of my first continental chapter had me engulfed in three months worth of new experiences. I found myself on the wrong (right) side of the road, and unlike the changes we see in ourselves from a monumental trip that commonly take time to appear, I was being hit with them as the plane touched ground.
My mom probably rates a reasonable 5, on a 1 to 10 scale of road rage. But even her verbalized frustration with LA traffic had me mentally recoiling to a country at the bottom of the earth. I missed Leon before I had even left. It was now met with a tinge of anxiety and the distance only magnified the feelings. What made up the anxiety? I didn’t all together recognize. But man, missing him something awful.
It wasn’t but a few days before I had the next chapter & travel arrangements organized, and I was bounding another three thousand or so miles to the big apple city. For my new readers, if you are joining this story somewhere in the middle, I imagine the trail of my destinations seems a bit disjointed and illogical. Here’s why. I fly for free. I am blessed with the privilege of having a family member who flies for a commercial airline. A very fortunate tool to my travels of which I’m very grateful. Because I cannot fly with co-share airlines, I typically must come back to the states in order to catch a flight to a different continent. Here’s what the itinerary has been thus far.
California to Australia
Domestic flights and buses within Australia & to New Zealand & Fiji
Back to the states to visit NY (largely selected so I could enjoy NY during its sweet springtime weather, study dance under one of my favorite choreographers, Luam, and spend time with a best friend)
South America (Ecuador & the Galapagos Islands, Peru & Machu Picchu, wrapping up in Argentina)
And there will be much more.
So since I’ve been in NY, I’ve been able to catch up with a few old friends as well as one of my favorites, Mila. Since I’ve been staying with Mila, I’ve been able to cook her up a couple mean meals. The rest of my time I’ve mainly divided between seeing two of my great guys, <hmmm, names> Chester & Grey. I actually worked with both of them, but in completely different industries. Happy that our friendships have survived the wake.
Grey was supposed to be my back up for a place to stay if having Sugo (my dog) at Mila’s became a landlord problem. Well, it did. Grey threw some seasoning on the wound the night I came over to his place and we found out his roommate is allergic to dogs. Thankfully, Chester, an old friend from my finance days, came to the rescue and put me up. I should have longed the relationships and shorted the career in that field.
I went over to Grey’s the other night to stretch out my photography muscles. Funny. I just realized that while my camera was nearly an extension of my arm throughout the Oceania, it’s all but gathered dust since I’ve been here in NY.
Grey hosted a private dinner to entertain some potential investors for a venture he’s looking to take in opening a restaurant with a chef friend. Dinner looked a little something like this…
It’s been Chester and Mila who have put a mirror in front of me I can’t seem to escape. I feel like all the three of us have discussed this last week is Leon.
Since I’ve been back in the states I made a promise to myself. I haven’t even absorbed the fact I’ve left my life for travel, let alone the three months (and growing) that I’ve now been gone. It’s a steeping process; like reducing a sauce. Like the reality and impact of all I’ve done is starting at my head, slowly making it’s way down through every layer. And it won’t be until it reaches my toes that I’ll know what it all means. I have a lot of respect for this process. As many things in my life that I refuse to wait for, this process I give complete space and my utmost patience.
I know I miss Leon. That, I don’t need time to know. But because I don’t trust where these feelings are coming from, because I can’t understand why I feel they’re now coming from a different place within me, I’m going to wait. I’m going to continue and sit on them until they prove to me they’re not something flighty and wrapped up in the emotional whirl of making a big change in my life. I just watched him tear down in front of me, and I refuse to be the 180 girl unless I can at least tell myself how the complete turn around happened.
Hang in there with me guys. I almost have you up to speed.
July 15, 2012 § Leave a comment
I became a dichotomy of someone completely present through the kind of events that change you in some intangible way; flying over the Great Barrier Reef, driving highway speeds on sand through Fraser Island, and basking in the comfort known as Byron Bay. The other half of me was still caught up in the heft of my emotional indigestion. Leon & I spoke throughout my east coast tour of Oz. All the way through. I somehow danced around addressing all that his letters revealed. It’s funny, because when you dance with someone, you’re close ~ touching. Now that I think of it, it’s a rather unfitting way to describe our conversations. But if the middle of the room was the unveiled feelings he had sent to me, we circled round near the edges, glancing over at that center floor, talking about it, but never taking our feet there.
As my time in Byron Bay reached expiration, I was making my way to catch the Aussie Greyhound bus back to Sydney. I’d arrive late in the evening and put up in the airport until my flight to Fiji early the following morning. Through chat & email, Leon tried to entice me into taking a flight instead, saving myself nearly nine hours, not to mention the opportunity to go with him to a Lebanese restaurant he had gushed about. The Greyhound pass I was on had been purchased as a package deal. And I couldn’t justify the reasonable, but extra, expense. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but Leon asked if he could buy me the flight. More than once. No way. I couldn’t.
I was dropped off at the bus station & found my seat, row all to myself. Leon texted, “Last chance, come on, let’s get Lebanese food.”
Why was I saying no? Just to sit on the bus for nine back-breaking hours? This time, I surprised myself, grabbed my carry-on & jumped off the bus just before the door closed.
Leon had a lot to tell me. I guess this was no longer going to be a high school dance.
After salutations and ocean adventure story telling was through, we hopped into his car & headed for the Lebanese restaurant.
He didn’t waste much time.
This was the moment I now realized I was dreading. Despite any productive abilities, my emotional sorting was still very tangled. And I was terrified at what this would cost me. Was it going to cost me Leon? Even if I didn’t know how to meet his affections at this time, I DID know I wanted him in my life… forever. I had so much that I wanted to explain to him. So much of my history that would lend clarification, but baggage is always just that, and this was the firs time I had the foresight to choose whether or not to take the risk of sharing it, and I wanted to keep mine & Leon’s … relationship… just that. Ours. I wanted to give him anything but a single word reply. If the next sentence to leave his mouth would be, ‘do your feelings mirror my own?’, I didn’t want to say, “no”. The explanations behind my decline would almost transform my no into a complicated maybe. But I emphatically said to myself that that whole closet of words weren’t clear enough to let out yet. I wanted time. Time to explain it to myself so I could explain it to him. And that time did not match what was left before my flight.
I was so anxious. My sweaty palms gave me away, I tucked them between my legs and turned to look out the window as the moisture made its way to my eyes.
And then he asked it. It must have been minutes before I responded. I desperately tried to weigh feelings against responsibility, two things rarely found on like scale systems. I didn’t have time to convert, “I’m sorry, I don’t.”
That unavoidable funny silence that we never fail to try & avoid fell on the car. We got to the restaurant, I think the only ones in a room of 10 tables.
I kept looking up at Leon. Uh-oh. This time my glance was met with way more emotion than I was prepared for. His pained face released itself in tears. And it was like seeing a man break down for the first time.
I told him to get the car & bring it around front. I paid the bill, packed our barely touched dinner & did all I could to console him. But that’s nothing right? You can’t do anything. As much as I’m reputed with running long-winded, I may surprise you, as I did myself in that moment & knew to say nothing. I wrapped him in my arms & kept silent.
There wasn’t much left to say. I was not the only person weighed down mentally, and that night exhausted us both. I didn’t know where all my thoughts had gone. After seeing Leon like that, I felt empty. Maybe it was good I was headed for the pace of island life.
July 9, 2012 § 2 Comments
July 8, 2012 § 5 Comments
It’s actually the skinny on this love story. I want to bring you guys up to date asap so you can gawk along with me at what I’m considering.
Clearly meeting Leon struck all the way through me. As I mentioned in the last couple entries, we met in Sydney. Oh ya, on Valentine’s day. We spent the following month or so together before I flew north to Cairns, then made my way south through Airlie Beach, Hervey Bay & Byron Bay. The first email came the day I left.
I had stayed over at his place and he was taking me to the airport at some un-Godly hour the next morning. At that point I was mentally in no-man’s land. In so many ways I had been impacted by the time Leon & I had spent. Moreover, the depth of it. Even further, where it was hitting me. But I wasn’t ready to confront those feelings, and whether that’s a scornful thing or not, it’s was reality at the time & I was struggling with the haze of it all. That’s why when I woke up that morning, and caught him going into the shower, I felt overwhelmed with something I couldn’t pinpoint. No wait. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling what I was feeling. Because it contradicted other thoughts. Our time together was an emotional whirl. It felt like a trip in & of itself. Full of all the important life topics and moving conversations that somehow stood out above the rest. I’ll cherish it always. I knew that even then. And then I was about to leave, and although I was coming back through Sydney, we weren’t sure when we’d see each other again. How do you say goodbye to someone you’ve shared one of the most beautiful times in your life with? When it wasn’t the city, your surroundings, the beaches, a foreign country, that contributed one ounce to that beauty. It was simply the you & him. I was freaking out over whether or not he’d kiss me goodbye. Then immediately followed that thought with a question to myself, “why are you thinking about kissing him if you’re not willing to walk down a romantic road with him?” What did this mean, I didn’t know. I told myself I wouldn’t act on anything until I did. I thought this was the only way to be responsible to the feelings involved. His & mine.
So in the car ride to the airport, I had some of those silent smiling seconds. Completely exhilarated by the whip of his car, the song he played, this completely unimportant tunnel that was making up the only place in the world I wanted to be in that moment, and here I am again. Like 10 years ago with Alano. But it was completely new, and in every way, better.
At the airport when we said goodbye… gosh, I must’ve been awkward. But we only hugged. One of those strong hugs. One of my favorite things. I welled up. Instead of acknowledging all the questions bubbling up in my head, I silenced them. And just let the feelings take rein.
When I arrived Cairns, the haze had made the flight with me, and I felt like a zombie wandering around. Because my flight had gotten in early, it was hours before I could settle into my room. I put up in the lobby and hopped onto a computer to get online. That’s when I got the email. I still couldn’t grab one thought circling my brain long enough to figure out what it was trying to tell me. And so I read his email, and almost as though I wouldn’t have been able to stop it, proceeded to sob in a very busy lobby area.
For someone who is so versed in being emotional, it was a strange phenomenon to not be able to identify my thoughts & feelings. I was only being emotional. So I just conceded to the weight of it all & told myself to be patient with understanding why.
I finally got into my room, barely lifting a hand to the fellow travelers who shared the space with me. This is my first hostel experience & I’m not even ‘here’.
I opened my suitcase. What was that? Something wrapped in orange tissue paper & I have the picturesque memory that told me I hadn’t packed this. I unwrapped the tissue and eeked. Day before yesterday Leon & I had gone to the Paddington Market (in the Paddington neighborhood of Sydney, a great one to check out, btw, a couple successful Australian designers started there). I found these great, decorative male & female silhouettes that usually distinguish the mens & ladies bathroom signs. I wanted them so badly. But I was trying to be financially fiscal, and held back my own hand. They didn’t have a store or website to purchase them from, so I knew I was safe from myself. Leon, on the other hand, pleaded with me to let him buy it as a gift. I couldn’t accept, he had already done so much for me & I felt indebted… and not just monetarily. But here I was… looking at the decorative sign from the market. He had covertly taken a business card, contacted the designers directly & somehow had it overnighted so that he could sneak it into my suitcase before he took me to the airport.
Funny. I left him a hidden surprise at his apartment too.
July 1, 2012 § Leave a comment
K, where did I leave off? What’s his alias again?
Leon. Right. Let’s just get right in to dicing this onion up.
It never fails to provoke a giggle, that my reasons for doing something can be so crystal clear and accessible, yet at the same time, I consistently ask myself what the hell it is I’m doing.
When I was in Oz, the first country I visited on the year I left to see the world and change my life, I was feeling everything and nothing at the same time. I knew my reasons for leaving San Francisco: see the world/do something amazing with my life, hop on ‘world harmony’, and find the next career I’d set in motion once I stopped traveling. I took off searching, and not searching, for these three things. I wanted to put myself into better position for a bigger life out there to find me, but I wanted to keep the process organic. Seek, but keep the eagerness & desire in check.
I never directly confirmed it, but discrete, and some not so discrete, gestures from Leon told me he had likely developed romantic feelings.
After nearly four weeks in Sydney, I left for Cairns and my east coast tour through Oz. Throughout the following weeks, Leon wrote me three emails. Though it wasn’t far from a way I’d have described him prior to them, after receiving those three e-letters, he was undoubtedly one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.
There are all kinds of beautiful out there. All kinds of writers. Intelligent, innate, gifted, witty, vulnerable… Leon is all of these. They are, and likely will always be, the most beautiful words I’ve ever read. Unostentatious… pained… effortless… un-tried… honest… full of integrity… so weak they were strong. We all have access to famous words written on life and love, but what could chime more than words personal to us?
As you can imagine, this trip is not only redefining my life, but many facets of how I look at it. I’ve recently had it pointed out to me, the value of having someone in your life that makes you want to be a better person. God, Leon had that effect on me. When there’s so many ways to look at the same situation, when two people can visit the same city and have completely different reactions to it, when you meet two people at some party & one conversation lasts two minutes while in the other you find yourself jiving with the person & you can’t explain why. It’s because I’ve considered these things at length that I’ve come to cherish Leon’s impact on me and the kismet of meeting one another. I’ve met so many people, and then I meet one, and somehow he seems to see all the good in me, my most intimate efforts. The ones I keep to myself. Not only did he pick up on them, but it’s was like he read the reasons behind my actions straight from my brain. Not only did he see the reasons why, but those reasons resonated with him. I met someone who values what I value. Possibly for the exact reasons they mean something to me. When your world becomes bigger through age, experiences… travel, you understand how rare this is. I’ll give you all a teaser, Leon puts it so much better than myself:
… I felt like there’s something inside you that resonates perfectly with me. Like some sort of harmonic vibration to sync with. I struggle to explain it, but I just felt at peace walking around with you not even speaking…
It wasn’t a situation where you feel like someone is infatuated. When they put you on the pedastool of perfection and you’re “flawless”. That wouldn’t be real to me. It was being so understood by him. Seen by him wholly. All my imperfections in tact, although that didn’t appear important to him. Instead, it was all I did good. And all the good I wanted to do, but hadn’t yet. Just his ability to see this made me feel closer to achieving it. It was more than motivating, it was empowering. It’s this kind of empowerment that makes you want to be a better person. You’re not the object of someone’s obsession, you are real. It’s piercing. And you realize you want to, more importantly can be, this person, all the time.
June 22, 2012 § 1 Comment
There’s some serious layers about to be peeled back. And much like my sensitivity to onions, the tear ducts have been busy.
Putting aside all those things I should be doing right now (like looking for work to replenish my funds), lies something with equal weight. No, its heavier. To respect and protect those I write about, I do not use real names.
There’s a layer of my story I’ve been sitting on. I miss someone.
When I was in Australia I met somebody. We were strangers before then, but in the short amount time and copious occasions we spent together, it felt as though our relationship came in dog years. Weeks seemed more like months.
Most of us have had that relationship we fell the hardest in. The one that nearly killed us. The one you had to go through, and come out of… The one that taught you the most about yourself, and because you braved its wake, you now know the limits of your ability to survive.
That relationship for me was nearly 10 years ago, and took place in San Francisco. You’ve heard me say hundreds of times how emotional I am, I’ll probably repeat it hundreds more, this is my disclaimer as to why the following description will likely sound a bit dramatic.
You know those perfect days? The unplanned one’s? A gorgeous day spawns spontaneity: a stunning drive along the coast; the perfect weather; the perfect temperature; the perfect company; the perfect song comes on, at just the right time, and you’re loving this moment so hard that you can’t do anything but close your eyes, lay your head back, and smile it all in. I felt like that all the time with… we’ll call him, Alano (I was going to go with the Spanish name for “destroyer”, but that’d be four syllables & just taking it too far).
He was incredibly spontaneous. Romantic in a way that always left me feeling anew. It was like having all my favorite endorphin releasers in one person. We loved eating together, we loved food. He was, to this day, one of the best natural-born cooks I’ve known. Music is probably my strongest mood changer, he always played the right songs. He took photographs, and we took drives. He loved reading, and I loved the way he drove a car. He was not perfect, and when I looked at him, I saw his flaws. I called him on them. It was because of all these things combined that I knew I loved him.
So there’s one of my very Audrey prefaces. But these things are important in order to give context. Surviving Alano – once you un-cloak the power of pain, it never quite takes the same hold of you. If and only because you’ve now once endured it. The loss of an innocence can only happen once. One of my biggest hurdles in overcoming that relationship was the possibility of living life without ever feeling that level of happiness again. But, your definitions change. You get older, and your world becomes bigger. You realize the aspects that ended the relationship were a piece in that “happiness” and there’s a different kind you’re now looking for.
Collectively, I was with Alano for roughly two years. The two that followed, I was single and dating. Then, I met… Ethan. He was my boyfriend for over two years and we broke up in April of the year I left for this trip (2010).
It wasn’t until I was swirling through leaf-littered roads on the world’s driest continent that a glimpse of that happiness showed it’s face again. His name is… Leon.
As a lot of time has passed since then, nearly four months & three countries (that was Oz, I’ve been to New Zealand, Fiji & now NY since then), I’ll give you the skinny and fill in details later.
Now here’s where I throw in a big, fat, “wait a second”, & tell you that Leon fell for me too. When he confessed his feelings, I told him I didn’t feel the same. I wasn’t ready. I feel like if I were on a stage right now, all the guys would throw tomatoes at me. Maybe you’re already thinking I’m a stupid girl. Maybe I am. But, I’m prepared to reveal all of this story, humility intact, if you care to read it… just not all tonight. I’m beat, so I’ll pick up where I left off tomorrow.
Night big apple.
June 18, 2012 § Leave a comment
For the three nights before my interview I stayed up to the un-Godly hours that born & bred New Yorkers just refer to as time to start their evening. The Lucky Magazine scout suggested I bring photos of myself and be prepared to give her some background on who I am.
I got an idea. I decided to try and knock this one out of the park. I believe in the “you never know…”, maybe a story in the magazine won’t pan out, but perhaps something else Lucky will. A job? A fortuitous networking contact?