The last time I saw you, you were driving away in your pickup truck. The sun was just barely above the horizon; there was a still and quiet in that tiny prairie town, the trees bowing slightly in the wind. I stood at the window to watch you drive away, and I blew you a kiss.
We met in the heat of summer in the heart of the country. I instantly liked your glasses, your goofy laugh, the way we were both too nervous to eat any of the food we’d ordered. I talked too much – I always do when I’m nervous, especially on first dates – and an hour in I stopped myself, apologised for waffling.
“Don’t apologise,” you leaned in close. “I’m utterly enthralled by you, if I’m honest.”
I hadn’t had a first date that good in a long, long while. We both didn’t want the night to end; you followed me home in that pickup truck of yours, where we drank beer on the porch and listened to records, the twinkly lights I’d hung up in the backyard illuminating all that was good. Our first kiss happened when we were listening to Sam Cooke, my favourite singer of all time, and life – for that one tiny moment – seemed perfect and real.
If you know me and you know this blog, you know that I don’t write articles like this very often. “Things to do” lists are not in my usual repertoire on my personal blog. But once in a while, a place comes along that is so amazing, so instantly special to me, that I can’t wait to share it.
Most recently, that place was the town of Amalfi, Italy.
“I’m saving the Amalfi Coast for something special,” I remember saying to a friend in London, years ago. I had just returned from Cinque Terre for the third time, another part of Italy that is raved about for its beauty. The Amalfi Coast, a 50-kilometre stretch of coastline along the Mediterranean, kept eluding me despite being so high on my dream travel list. Saying I was saving if for something special made me feel slightly better about not seeing it yet.
The truth is, I didn’t know what that “something special” was going to be. “I’m saving the Amalfi Coast for something special,” became my mantra, the Amalfi Coast becoming that destination that was always in the back of my mind, that place I so desperately wanted to visit but didn’t know how.
It turns out 2019 is going to be just as crazy with travelling as ever, but the best part? I feel ready and excited for it. In the past I’ve felt pressure to travel as often as possible; sometimes because of this industry that I’m in, sometimes just because of the pressure I’m putting on myself. This year? This year I’m travelling for the pure joy and love of it, for the reasons I first started travelling all those years ago: to see places with my own eyes, to experience, to learn.
Oh, and to eat.
Because do you know where I’m going first?
I didn’t like that I was out of breath after one minute of jogging. I didn’t like that I had zero muscle definition, or that my favourite clothing didn’t fit anymore. I didn’t like waking up every morning feeling tired, stiff, and cranky. I didn’t like constantly feeling unhappy for no goddamn reason. And no matter how hard I tried, I realized I was totally out of excuses; moving home to Canada meant that I had a lot more time and lot more money, so if I wasn’t going to do it now… when would I do it?
Now, exactly 71 days into this “get healthy” journey, everything has changed: my body, yes, but even more importantly, my mindset.
“I don’t want to be unhealthy anymore,” I thought to myself as I laid in bed that cold Saturday morning. It sounds like the simplest, most obvious thought to have, but this time it hit me in my core. I didn’t want to just be healthy in January. I wanted to be healthy all year round, all the time.
I’ve never thought of myself as unhealthy, but I’ve never thought of myself as healthy, either. I always thought I floated somewhere in the middle, if that makes sense.
But as I laid there, I started being honest with myself. I held nothing back. The truth – there’s that word again – was that I didn’t feel very good a lot of the time, both mentally and physically. I knew I was constantly coming up with excuses for why I didn’t eat well, why I didn’t exercise, and why I allowed my mental health to suffer when I knew there were things I could be doing to help.