This year has been hard. I know I’m not the first person to say that, and I definitely won’t be the last. In a year that’s done nothing but prod and poke and break, I want to take a moment to focus on the inexplicable joys of being alive.
These are the little things. The moments in life when you think:
“Thank god I’m alive, thank god I get to live this life.”
I know this used to be a travel blog, and it will be again. We’re not traveling right now, though, and in many ways, this blog has been a collection of vignettes from my life. Snapshots of food I’ve liked, trips I’ve taken, books I’ve read, the things that have broken me, and the stories of how I’ve managed to put myself back together.
When I was 21, I wanted nothing more than to be a digital nomad who traveled the world for a living. Now, at 27, I realize I thrive when I have stability.
I moved to Switzerland almost five years ago. I realize now that being a digital nomad would have never made me happy. In Switzerland, I’m safe. I’m valued. I followed my heart and left everything I knew behind to say “yes” to love. When it’s safe again, I can travel again. However, when I’m in Switzerland, I know I’m home.
We’re in the middle of a pandemic that feels like it’ll never be over. I’m tired all the time. However, I realized recently how far I’ve come. I think we don’t appreciate ourselves for surviving often enough. I know I haven’t.
Because I’ve spent so much of this blog bearing my soul to you, I know I can say this: I want to live, and I get to live. There’s something so wonderful about looking at all the little joys and privileges we have in life that keep us going.
I want to share mine with you.
So, here is a small glimpse into my life recently.
The inexplicable joys of being alive consist of:
The little black cat who saunters into our apartment every day and sleeps on our couch or most recently, under our Christmas tree. Her name is Shirley Jackson (yes, the queen of gothic horror). Except that’s not really her name because she belongs to our neighbor and they call her something else. But we call her Shirley Jackson. She has big green eyes and loves to lay on my stomach in the mornings and sleep. We’re so lucky to live in a world where there are cats. Especially the ones who saunter into your house in the middle of a pandemic and brighten up your daily routine in a way you never knew could be possible. There’s a reason Egyptians worshipped them.
Cats demand to be worshipped.
Our Christmas tree. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you have to admit there’s something both magical and ridiculous about the fact that we bring a tree into our home once a year and decorate it with lights and ornaments. I know it’ll have to go in a few weeks but my heart fills with joy every morning as I turn the tree on before work and watch it light up our living room in soft, twinkly hues.
The feeling of coming inside on a cold winter day and feeling the warmth wrap itself around me like a blanket. I’m so lucky to have an apartment with heated floors.
Waking up next to the love of my life every morning and knowing I get to spend my day laughing with the person who makes me happiest. It’s amazing to me that I used to think that love should be hard.
When you meet the person who lights up even the darkest parts of yourself, love is easy.
The moment when I get completely enraptured in a new book. I have a hard time understanding how anyone can hate reading, especially in a year without travel. With books, you can go anywhere, be anything. I love walking in magical midnight libraries and hiding in dystopian laboratories. I love getting lost in Svalbard. It’s so easy to be transported to a Parisian cafe with the turn of a page. Books are the safest way to travel.
Books are, in many ways, my dearest, oldest friends.
The smell of freshly brewed coffee and freshly toasted bread.
The sound of rain hitting the windowpane
The feeling you get when you wake up and realize your alarm clock won’t go off for another hour
There are so many moments in life that can be beautiful if you just pay attention. There are so many little, inexplicable reasons to stay alive.