An unexpected adventure

When I write, I try really hard to avoid cliches...or over-quoting...or inspirational quotes entirely (that's a lie; I LOVE inspirational quotes - guilty pleasure?) but the impetus for my two months in Southeast Asia really can best be summarized by a Rolling Stones song.

You can't always get what you want...but if you try get what you need...

I know, I know. But really.

A few weeks into my last job, I remember having a very bittersweet moment in which I realized how much I was loving everything about my new role. I see myself staying here for years! This is what I've been waiting for! My career path makes sense now! These thoughts were almost immediately followed by a dark cloud in which I realized that if I were to stay at my company for years, I would forego the opportunity to take a few months to travel in my twenties, which had been in the back of my mind since college.

As life tends to go, I jumped the gun with these thoughts, and a few months and a horrible boss later (let's talk sometime about that Madeline Albright quote, "There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women", k?),  I found myself in an unexpected position with both time and money.

Without much thought or planning, I booked a oneway ticket to Bangkok, and somehow convinced one of my best friends to join me for the first week.

The thing about unexpected adventures is that you have very little time to set expectations. I felt my heart stop momentarily as I gazed out at the sheer beauty of Nong Khiaw, Laos - a village completely unknown to me before I hopped a bus randomly because I had a few days to kill before a flight. I fought with a Canadian who decided -- in Hanoi -- to get a tattoo of American planes dropping bombs on Vietnam, because he "hated the country." I felt genuine pangs of sadness as I hugged Jess, John, and Saawan goodbye -- three people with whom I rappelled down waterfalls in Vietnam, ate green curry in Thailand, and whose advice and friendship I came to rely on as I was thousands of miles and a 12-hour time change away from my friends and family in the U.S. I didn't have time to plan for any of these emotions or experiences, and that made my reactions to them so much more authentic.

I felt deeply and without distraction, and I focused. I focused on who I was with, what I was doing, what I was seeing, thinking, and feeling. Sometimes it wasn't fun or magical or beautiful, but it was all meaningful. Even the less than ideal moments culminated in an overall experience that, though I didn't seek it out, turned out to be something that maybe I needed.

I'm so happy that since I've returned, several people have reached out to me asking about my itinerary. I would love to share more about my trip, and I'll be doing so over several posts on the blog.