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Hey Infinity is 6 years old now – being just have had a birthday this month. And no, no one sent it or me birthday cake. Yes, we are offended.

This means I created this little space on the internet when I was 20. Back when I wasn’t legally allowed to drink – one year before I bought my first (and only yet) bottle of adorably pink, strawberry Boone’s Farm wine, and tiny rainbow-sprinkled cupcakes for the crazy 21st celebration I had with my friend and her cat. One year after I voted in my first Presidential election, smiling as I colored in the tiny bubble with a pencil to support Barack Obama, thinking to myself that much-younger me would have been shocked to know that my Republican parents’ opinions hadn’t stuck with me to adulthood.

When it was a new infinity and not a 6-year infinity veteran, I ordered some tiny business cards that have the website on one side and “I think you’re beautiful” on the other.The idea was, I am pretty sure, to give those away to people so they knew this place existed, or forcefully leave them on cars, or stick them in random places wherever I found myself – all of which I never did. When they arrived in the mail, I opened my package to find someone else’s cards, listing actual helpful information like a contact email. I emailed the lady, told her I had gotten her cards by mistake, and suggested the following: She would probably get my cards in the mail soon, and when she did, we would swap, and also report the error to the printer, thereby getting another order for free from them. And she agreed! It worked out well in the end. And so, yes, I have two tiny boxes of tiny business cards that I still am planning on someday giving away. Probably. Maybe in 6 more years.

I’ve been thinking about that statement a lot recently. “I think you’re beautiful.” Six years ago, I was infatuated with newness. With people. With places and all that they held. The world was magical to me. I wanted to see all of it. I wanted to tell everyone that they were a beautiful story. I wanted to write them all poems about the sky.

Right now, it is so hard to feel that way. Is it not? There seems to be so much more hatred and violence and sadness and fear and global warming. Our planet is dying, and we are dying, and our teeth are falling out.

I know it is all still there, everything I used to see. I am searching for it, still. I want to feel all of those things again, and just as deeply. It was a wonderful way to be.

There is goodness and beauty. There will be safety and logic. We will keep going, together. Please send cake next year.

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The lady from the GPS on my phone suggests I turn right onto Verde Vista, in a tone that reminds me of my grandfather: slightly southern, and with no knowledge of Spanish. verdeee vista.

The road is not very green but it is still beautiful. I appreciate it no matter how poorly named it was. But still, I drive on it to get somewhere else. This is not my final destination. This green road, this city. I’m not really sure where I’m going, my life doesn’t have a GPS lady telling me what to do. Other than myself. But we all seem to be going somewhere. And it’s best to keep moving, to keep driving down the green views. If you stop you might not ever make it to all the other beautiful places. If you wait, you might not be around for the next season, no matter how old or young you are. You might not ever get there, if your phone loses service somewhere in the middle of a roundabout and you keep circling until you run out of gas.

I’ll see you next time, he says, as you drive toward and then past. But there might not be a next time. The GPS lady in my head cannot be trusted, just like most other GPS ladies.

The boy at the mexican restaurant sets down chips and guacamole on the table, yells in Spanish to his coworker, grins at us and asks if we’d like water. He is beautiful. We leave and the air is warm, perfect, green, new, lovely.

“You are lovely,” he tells me, in another language I don’t understand.  There is no time to waste on people who aren’t wonderful.

My car is not green but I can imagine that it is. I have no idea where it and I will take me. The road is terrifying and beautiful and long and if you want to come with me, you can, but I’m not turning around for you.

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A year ago today I was on the other side of the world, standing in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth: Prague.

It was my first time out of the U.S, and I had flown across the ocean on my own to start an adventure. That’s what I called it. That’s what I was looking for. An adventure. Looking back, thinking about everything I did a year ago, I am amazed. I was so brave. Maybe braver than I am now.

I have spent 7 of the last 12 months traveling and living abroad. A little over a year ago, I hadn’t been anywhere, and now: I’ve eaten street meat on Prague’s cobblestones, wandered around Warsaw, spent a week meeting my relatives in cities and tiny villages all over Ukraine, climbed waterfalls and ridden bare-elephant-back in Bangkok, hunkered down in Seoul, explored Bavaria with my German cousins and my mom, gotten trapped in Toronto in a snowstorm, and eaten raspberry gelato on the riverbanks of Mozart’s hometown, Salzburg, Austria.

Now, I’m tired. I’m home, and my bed is awfully comfortable, let me tell you. My bones are weary. I feel ancient, like I have lived too many lives. I don’t want to go anymore. I want to stay.

But me, I’m for adventures. That’s what I want — at least, I think it still is, for now. Why am I hesitant to keep moving? Isn’t that what we always have to do? Life doesn’t stop. There are so many places to see, so much to do, so many people to meet.

I’m thinking about how people say you shouldn’t work doing what you love, because you might grow to hate it — or something like that. I don’t know if I agree — maybe it’s more like, you shouldn’t let what you love become work. And I’m thinking and worrying that that’s what traveling has become for me. Tiresome. It’s not a vacation anymore, not when it’s a year later and you’re still going. It becomes a different beast, yet still a beautiful one. The challenges change, become more difficult, more stressful, compounding over and over.

There is something beautiful and easy about living in your homeland. The people speak your language (on many levels), you’re used to the food, the culture, the transportation systems, the medical systems, the money, banking. You know where to go, what to do, who to do it with. You have friends, people who you’ve grown up with, whether or not you met them in your childhood. You have history there. It belongs to you. It’s simple. It’s easy; there are no visa requirements, no proof of residency, no need to carry your passport with you wherever you go. No translation apps on standby. No stares because you are different.

It’s too easy. Ask anyone who’s returned from abroad after being away for a significant amount of time. It’s so easy! Everything’s in your own language. You can understand everything people say to you, everything people say to other people, stuff you don’t even want to understand — but you do anyway! You can’t help but listen! There’s so much sound! Sound, noise, a language that finally means something to your brain!

Too easy.

Too familiar.

Isn’t it? Wasn’t it? Or have I lost it, that wonderment at things I don’t understand? I’m no longer in love; un-infatuated with newness. It’s been hard. It’s been unpleasant. It’s been a long time. The honeymoon is over! Where are the divorce papers?! Quick, somebody! Someplace? Save me.

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We sat in a row on the ground in the backyard of someone’s house at someone’s halloween party. We were watching two costumed people fight with fake swords — I think the female version of John Snow won in the end, somehow; I’m not sure how you win a fake fight.

The backyard belonged to a house that belonged to a group of college students — anyway maybe that explains why the backyard was only patches of grass and the ground was mostly scraggly dirt, large rocks, a spare desk chair, and an old couch that everyone was avoiding. Most people were standing anyway, looped into circles of hand-made-costumed art majors waving clear plastic cups full of questionable mixed drinks around in the air as they spoke. My little group — three girls sitting on a row of lumpy rocks — cycled between watching the sword fight, chatting, and gazing around at other people.

I was in town from out of state, visiting my friend in her city for the second time in as many months. It was November 1st, and I had just  Mega-Bussed my way south for 8 hours, Halloween costume shoved into my backpack.

As we sat in our little artsy row, another person came to join us. And his costume was confusing but very good and I had to ask him what it all meant and sometimes that’s the way homemade costumes and art both are.  And the four of us continued the chatting and watching and gazing cycle. And really it’s not entirely true that my friend was the only person I knew at the party, because I had met this boy before, a month earlier, during my first visit to the city.

The rest of the party happened and then ended, after John Snow won the fight and we all got up from the rocky, dirty, chair-y backyard and danced in the room that is usually the dining room and drank more questionable drinks made by two college kids dressed as a werewolf and the universe. And the rest of my visit happened, happily, spending time with my friend and exploring the city she lived in which was slowly becoming my third favorite, after my hometown and Chicago.

I remember at one point during the next day how I found myself with nothing much to do for a few hours, as my friend was working on a project for school. And I could have done a lot of things with that free time. And I remember thinking about the boy from the party, the intriguing beautiful artsy boy, and I wondered what he was doing as I was sitting around (writing this), and if he would agree to get coffee if I asked him, or just wander, or chat, or gaze at other people somewhere in my new, third-favorite place.

These were all things I thought about but didn’t do. And I Mega-Bussed back home and his name was added to the list of “Cool People I Should Have Hung Out With.” Almost a year later, and that list slowly continues to grow. Of course the other list, the cool people I have hung out with, is much longer, but there are names that I’ve missed, people I’ve missed out on, experiences I haven’t had, for no good reason other than I was too afraid or too unmoved or too lazy, or a cycle of all three. And that’s no good. That list exists but it shouldn’t. This is a true story but it shouldn’t be.

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He started traveling when he was 23, 5 years ago. Now he’s lived in 6 different countries, speaks 4 different languages, has a lot of great photographs and memories. And, much of the time, he is happy. But he does not have happiness. He says all he really has is his guitar. People that move around on their own, he says, they need something other than people to hold on to. He has his guitar, he says. His traveling companion.

His hair is long, kept in brown dreadlocks. He’s from Germany, but he sings in English and whatever language of whatever country he finds himself in. He is content, happy, to sit on benches across the globe, strumming and singing with the people, the crowds, that quickly surround him when he plays. He brings joy to them. Him and his guitar.

I wonder if he is happy after he packs away his one possession, after the crowds of people leave. I wonder how he is strong enough, if he is strong enough, to have been going so long on his own.  I wonder if he lied, if he’s actually terrified and lonely, or if he does take something else along with him on his travels — bits and pieces of people: the old man’s laughter, the girl smiling as she recorded him singing with her cell phone, the busy people who missed train after train as they stood in their subway station, singing. I wonder if it is enough for him, to have a part but not a whole.

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1. How many times is too many times? How much is too much? How vague is too vague?

2. You know your life’s exciting when you find yourself researching how to keep your houseplants watered so they don’t die when you leave them for an extended period of time. My babies!

3. Maybe you’re not bored but boring.

4. So, the World Cup is pretty cool, eh? #American

5. I wonder if I’m annoying my apartment neighbor by playing Sondre Lerche’s Bad Law over and over and over…. oh well.

6. I get it, you have opinions. About everything. And you’re very outspoken. And you hate that other people have opinions. Because they’re always wrong. Or offensive. Or politically incorrect. Maybe you should just get off the internet, because sharing all of these articles and making virtual support groups for offended people is not going to solve anything. Or maybe you’re just bored otherwise?

7. He has brown eyes. Of course he does.

8. People on Instagram totally take some of those photos with like real cameras, right? It’s ok, you can tell me!

9. If you can go outside and look up and see blue sky, and if you can go to the grocery store and buy strawberries at any month of the year, you’re fortunate. Please feel fortunate, for me. The gray-sky, berry-less lady. Thanks.

10. Wake up in the middle of the night and smile to yourself and go back to sleep.

“…I work hard, do a lot of push-ups, a lot of sit-ups, get made fun of, sniff benzodiazepines–” He pushes one nostril closed with a finger.

“–Barry!”

“Hey, you asked. I wouldn’t tell just anybody this, you asked.” He’s pretty drunk. The overly-bent bill of his super-American baseball hat makes his thin horse-face look even thinner. I flick at the hat with my fingers.

“How often do you get your hair cut?”

“Every one-and-a-half-weeks,” he says, taking off the hat to show his ‘do.

“Wow.” The sides of his head are shaved, while the top is a bit longer. He’s got golden-brown hair under that hat, and a tattoo on his chest. And on his side. He shows me both after another beer.

“This is a wolf. And this is a quote from the bible.”

He asks me to dance with him, and I do, feeling it’s my duty as an American citizen. He is an Army man, after all.

He twirls me around a bit, and does some fancy twist with far too many moves for the amount of gin tonics I’ve had.

“Is this what you do, go out on the weekends and dance with girls?”

“I don’t know what a weekend is, anymore. I just have off days. And, no. Not really.”

He spins me again, and once I recover, I ask him more “meaningful” and “deep” questions about his life. About being in the Army. About how he likes Korea. About his hat.

At some point, later, after the dancing, I laugh to myself, thinking about how quickly I’ve become the English teacher who hangs out in the Westerner neighborhood, who drinks on Friday nights and dances with American Army dudes. Typical. Typical. Wonderful.

But it’s more than that. It’s the first moment we saw the group of “Army dudes” walk into the bar, forearm muscles out, baseball caps on. It’s how wrong we were, so quickly. It’s how all people, if you give them the chance, might just be good, interesting people in your life. Even if they wear sleeveless shirts.