Hi. Remember me?
Gosh, when I started blogging in 2009, I don’t think I ever could have pictured writing this — tapping the mic to see if it’s still on; my first blog post back after an unplanned nine month hiatus. I’m actually physically cringing as I type that. Where does the time go? Warning: this post will be filled with lots of questions, and probably also a few semi-coherent attempts at answers.
Years ago, as soon as I started finding success here, publishing a slightly more polished version of a diary on the internet, people started asking me, “well, what do you want to do next?,” as if this were a mere stepping stone.
I’m doing it, I used to say. I thought I’d always be sharing my life somewhere, in some form.
And I suppose I have. While my Facebook pages have also grown sadly stagnant, my Instagram is somewhere I regularly share short stories, thoughts and musings, and general updates about my life. Still, there’s only so much you can say in a caption, or a few square photos.
For a while, as blog comments dried up and general attention spans grew shorter, Instagram felt like where we were all hanging out — not to mention required a much briefer investment of time. But that’s kind of faded, too, and it feels like the world is once again moving onto a platform I don’t have much interest in (Yes! TikTok! I’m looking right at you and your upsetting robotic voice trend that I want no part of!) I miss the conversations.
So I guess this is me, getting back to basics. I’ve missed blogging terribly and for months, I’ve woken up most days and thought, is today the day I’m going to press publish again?
But I realized there was another question that was holding me back from answering that one: Why did I wait so long in the first place? What stopped me, for the bulk of 2021, from doing the one thing that has defined my identity for the last 13 years of my life — blogging, about travel and love and business and everything in between?
That’s a tough one. And my first impulse is to point to my growing second business, my family obligations, the huge turnover I had on my tiny team, you know the drill. And while those things truly did take an outsized portion of my time in the last nine months, pointing to them alone does feel a bit like an excuse.
So maybe, since I’m a bit rusty here, if you don’t mind I’ll start with something easier: what have I been up to?
I guess, like many on earth over the last year, I’ve been getting my hopes up, getting my heart broken, occasionally experiencing transcendent joy?
We shake with joy, we shake with grief.
What a time they have, these two
housed as they are in the same body.
If you do follow me on the ‘gram — where I’m also hopelessly behind, because, me — you know that I went back to my old nomadic ways since I went silent here. I did start the year with the dream of finding a more permanent residence, going as far as to get mortgage pre-approval (no small miracle for the self employed!) and start viewing apartments in Brooklyn.
But New York’s short term rental ban made realize I’d often struggle to make a mortgage payment on an empty apartment. Renting one seemed even more wasteful.
So, I traveled. I started 2021 in Mexico, returned to US with the promise of the vaccine, then started bopping around domestically and to the Caribbean for those long-awaited campaigns, bachelorette parties and family celebrations as well as, praise be, finally restarted my retreats. We kicked things off close to home in Martha’s Vineyard and then The Florida Keys before heading abroad to Lebanon and Egypt, where I survived twenty-one days of straight retreat hosting that made me feel simultaneously tired on a cellular level and vibrantly alive on a soul one.
I also had friendapalooza reunions in England and across France — site of my first Maid of Honor honor of the year — before returning to the US to focus on another big wedding; my sister’s! I threw my first wedding shower in our hometown, hosted her bachelorette party in Palm Beach, and of course, was by her side for the big day in Philadelphia. Wander Women snuck in one more retreat in Hudson Valley, and then I clocked out for the holidays to spend Thanksgiving with my dad in Los Angeles and Christmas with my sister in Philly. Oh! And I snuck in one more Caribbean trip to Cayman and St. Martin to celebrate a milestone anniversary for friends who too, feel like family.
If it sounds like a lot; it was. It was a year of making up for missed moments, and I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to do so. Sounds like a bunch of trips that would have been a blast to share here, right?
I will. Someday.
But for the last nine months, every time I sat down to open my laptop, the idea of opening my browser and writing from the heart made me feel some kind of way. (Also, could there be a more awkward measure of time for me to have taken an unintentional break? Is it just me or does it feel like I should surprise you all with the news that I was on like, maternity leave? Major spoiler alert: guilt and anxiety were the things conceived this year by me.)
I think it all comes down to honesty.
I have always been unflinchingly genuine here, and tried hard to be so in every aspect of my life. Travel, and solo travel in particular, gave me the gift of hearing my inner voice so clearly and precisely in my own head, and for a decade and I simply listened to it, lived what it told me, and shared that here. Even surrounded by the love of others, I often chose to be alone — on trips, on hikes, in my home — because that was when I heard that voice the loudest.
And it rarely led me astray. While my life was never flawless, pretty much up to that fateful summer of 2018 I often felt that I somehow had stumbled upon an embarrassment of riches when it came to luck — like I had somehow hacked the system and found myself with the most carefree life, the most beautiful island base, the most world class friends, the sweetest love. I had a place that felt like home, a community I belonged to. I knew, I knew they were the good old days, right as they were happening. But perhaps what was naive was I expected them to simply be followed by even better ones. I don’t think I ever realized how fragile all that was.
If anything, I look back on these last years as a lesson in the delicacy of life. One moment, your mom can’t remember her ATM pin; the next she’s being airlifted to emergency brain surgery. One moment, you’re running a succesful growing business; the next you’re pulling from your retirement to cover customer refunds. One moment, you say goodbye to your big new love at an airport, full of plans and hopes for the future; the next you’re on the phone with their embassy, begging for a border exemption that will never come. One moment, you take a wobbly step in a train station; the next, a physical therapist muses on if you’ll ever fully heal. One moment, you can sink your toes into the ground and feel the earth holding you up below you; the next, suddenly, you can’t.
Instead, you’re that damn single use plastic bag from the opening credits of American Beauty, blowing in the breeze. I still have the amazing friends; but life and COVID scattered them around the globe. I still have the businesses; but I often feel like I’m flying blind through navigating this pandemic with them. The big loves haunt me; I was just processing the end of one life-defining relationship when another unexpectedly began. After a confusing year, I feel the weight of the end of both sitting heavily on me, lost in memories and regrets and what-could-have-beens. And the idea of a place that again truly feels like home, and a sense of it within myself? They live in the past, and my hopes for the future. Lately, I feel a deep discomfort with something I once relished — being alone with myself and my own thoughts.
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.
― Derek Walcott
I have a lot to be grateful for. I mean, look at the photos in this post (and keep in mind I’ve yet to find a way to photograph crushing existential dread.) Believe me, my awareness only expands that I still have an embarrassment of luck compared to much of the world. But somewhere in the muddle of the last few years of anticipatory grief, caretaking, and bereavement; of pandemic anguish; of romantic loss and confusion… I lost that inner voice that once guided my life so assuredly. I can’t hear it anymore, and among other echoes, it’s left me at a loss for what words to type.
After my mom died, writing was a powerful tool to help me process that trauma. She was a writer, and it made me feel close to her to try to work things out with words.
I felt like I just started to feel the earth below me again, in early 2020. It had been about six months since my mom’s funeral. I remember boarding my last international flight of “the before times,” and thinking — oh, okay. I remember — this is kinda what happiness feels like. This is what hope feels like. I remember distinctly feeling that I didn’t trust it. Everything felt so fragile, like it could shatter in a moment. Again.
i don’t pay attention to the
it has ended for me
and began again in the morning.
And it did. And I was startled, recently, to realize that I stopped blogging when I got, chronologically, to that moment in my story; our collective story together on this planet. March 2020. For me, it was a compound fracture. It’s when the pieces of my life I had just started to put back together started to crack, again. It’s when I started wondering who I was, again.
And so I think when I opened my laptop to write, my heart just wasn’t ready to process all that. I didn’t want to write another sad chapter. So I just opened a different tab.
I guess that’s my convoluted, messy answer to my own question. Why I stopped blogging. Lots of grief, lots of trauma, even more confusion, and as time ticked on, that fear that if I was honest about it, it would define me.
You know that moment in a breakup when you’re not over it, but you know you have to stop talking about it? (My friends are reading this like wait; when did she become cognizant of that boundary?)
Well, how long is the grace period for an adult woman to mourn her mother’s death?
Overall, it just became easier to shift my focus to my second business, which is all about looking after other people’s hearts, and focus less on this one, which is all revealing mine.
Well, I guess that begs yet another question — what the heck are we doing here now? This one, I do know the answer to. I am going to get back to blogging. I already have a bunch more posts scheduled! There’s so much I’ve missed that I still want to share, in some way, even if it’s for my own smiles when I look back on these wild years in my old age.
I don’t want to forget all the good parts. Because there are always good parts, you know? I mean, I don’t want to brag, but I saw a striptease to the Law and Order theme song at House of Yes in Brooklyn on my birthday this year. I taught yoga in front of the freaking pyramids, this year. I sipped champagne — in Champagne! — this year.
And maybe I don’t want to forget these hard parts, either.
So, it’s going to be a mixed bag around here. My mind is often focused on the future. And my heart lately feels stuck in the past. My goal this year is to focus on the present. I’m going to start blogging 2022 in real time, more or less. I’m also going to go back and start blogging where I left off, way back in 2020, because I think that’s an important part of helping me process the last two years, too.
Because one thought I had recently was — maybe that inner voice I am trying to hard lately to rediscover didn’t just help me write. Maybe writing helped me find that voice, too.
So here we are. I miss you. I miss me. And right now, pressing “publish” on whatever it is that just happened in the previous 2,300 words feels like a step towards finding my way back to both.
Thanks for being here, with me, still.