When I last updated here a few months ago (whoops), I had just traveled from Russia through the Baltics to Poland and flew back to Ireland. I stayed in Ireland for about three weeks, during which I carved a RuPaul jack-o-lantern that was mistaken for a Northern Ireland hunger striker, answered the door for both the tricker treaters on Halloween, watched the US election in complete horror, and contemplated where I wanted to go next.
Where I wanted to go next was home. As much fun as I had been having and as much as I loved and still love traveling, I wanted to be some place familiar and around people I had known for more than a few weeks. There weren’t any good gymnastics meets coming up and it was heading into winter and I did not feel like doing another winter in Europe. I flew from Dublin to Oslo to NYC and met up with Minna and stayed with her for about a week. Highlights include adult gymnastics class at Chelsea Piers, downloading new taxi apps, getting the free ride, inviting Minna to use the app, getting another free ride, and then immediately deleting the app and downloading a new one, walking around Central Park, trying and failing to win Hamilton tickets, playing with a puppy that now has tens of thousands of Instagram followers, and buying a tub of cookie butter ice cream and eating a disgusting amount while watching The Bronze. All the fun type of things you do with someone you’ve been friends with since you were tiny middle school gymnasts in crushed velvet leotards.
Two other things that happened while in NYC are two instances of weird reverse culture shock and/or jet lag. I stood in the yogurt aisle in an Upper East Side grocery store, which was a tiny, tiny store, especially by any American standards, and stood transfixed at the sheer number of varieties of yogurt. I felt overwhelmed by the seemingly hundreds of kinds of yogurt with minuscule differences between flavor, size, type, brand, nationality (?) and the minuscule differences that amounted to an enormous aisle with more yogurt than all of NYC could ever possibly eat. I stood there examining the copious quantities of yogurt for so long one of the stock boys asked if I needed help finding anything. I eventually grabbed a(n overpriced, ugh NYC) blueberry Chobani and left the store, still feeling overwhelmed. The second weird reverse culture shock was when I took out some cash from an ATM and marveled at how green the money was. I then felt confused and strange because a few years ago I marveled at how colorful Euros were. It’s a very odd feeling when things in your home country as banal as yogurt and money feel extremely strange and foreign. I also experienced this weird out of place feeling during Thanksgiving dinner when I noticed all the electrical outlets looked weird and by weird I mean American.
I left New York and headed to Rhode Island and I spent another week there, staying with my good friend Charleve of The Iceland Trip. This was another week filled with old friends and comfortable, familiar places. Highlights include pajama-movie-cookie baking-board game day, contributing correct answers (Janet Reno, smallpox) and winning trivia, riding a motorcycle for the first and last time, craft night, visiting the new Irish bar in my hometown which was the unofficial night before Thanksgiving reunion spot for the high school class three years below me, running into Minna and discussing Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, and spending quality time with good friends. I also spent Thanksgiving with family friends, with whom I’ve celebrated holidays with since 2011 and was able to finally meet the new baby in the family.
After a wonderful week in Providence I headed to Florida to visit my family there and spend quality time with my wonderful dogs. I spent a lot of time with the dogs, spent a lot of time on the beach, finished reading all the
Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire books, watched a lot of Law and Order:SVU and contemplated what my next move would be. I had honestly been considering finding a way to stay in Providence or NYC, even though I had had no desire to ever live in either of those places before. A recruiter reached out about a remote position with 70% domestic travel and working exclusively with the software I had used in my previous position. I had an interview lined up and thought about how nice it would be to not stress out about paying my student loans every month and not having to think about running out of money. I then remembered how bored my life was before I started traveling and pulled out of the interview and instead applied for a working holiday visa, which was approved, and bought a one way ticket to New Zealand.