One short (yet so, so long) year ago I wrote a blog post on thetrainridehome.com about turning 27. The United States had begun quarantine, and I was scared. Everyone was scared, to a certain degree. I was laid off from my new job that I was barely getting the hang of, and my little family consisting of my husband, my dog, and myself were in a new state away, far from family, with no income, trying to keep it together.
It’s been a long year, and we’re only 4 months in. Lucky for us, books exist! Here are the ones I love, so you might love them too.
Take some of these ideas, add your own into the mix, and pull them at random, doing one after the other. Don’t give yourselves too much time to think between each one – just DO. The whole experience made us feel like kids again, forgetting about the weight of the world. We hope you have as much fun as we did.
Whether you are dating long distance, quarantined in different houses, on a long road trip, or simply want some conversation starters to get to know your significant other better, these are for you.
On March 2nd, I continued my birthday tradition of recording bits of knowledge I’ve collected during the year. Now, on March 25th, a few things in the world have changed. The lessons I previously wrote seemed so far away from what I’m learning and experiencing now.
I plopped on the couch, a looming stack of cut-up magazines on the coffee table in front of me. Time to find out what inspires me.
Sitting down with my journal and deeply thinking about it, I can trace back through a handful of versions of myself. The free spirit Scotland traveler constantly in a green knit hat and scuffed leather boots. The stressed teacher living in the tiny Portland apartment with a guinea pig. The new wife in Germany who poured energy into friendships, reading, art. Looking back through the layers of my life, I realize that I reinvented myself every year, with new jobs, passion-projects, food tastes. A small army of Emmas stand behind me, varying styles all lined up.
Rejection is a hard pill to swallow, and is seemingly a rite of passage as an adult. We’re forced to take it with a smile and carry on because that’s what we’re expected to do. Don’t make a fuss. I agree with this to a point. Perspective is everything. In the future, when I’m settled with a steady income, I’ll look back on this time and appreciate the rejections. They led me in the right direction. But, to someone who is struggling, that concept is hard to be fully grasped.
Let’s get right into it. I loved these books, and you might too.
On a Thursday in late December we packed everything we could fit into our red Honda, including a special spot for our dog, and started the 16 hour drive to North Carolina. The first couple hours we were focused – silent. Listening to our podcasts and navigating through Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey. The traffic going around the city was clogged, drastically slowing our quick pace less than 2 hours into the trip. At this point, Pebbles the dog also chose that he was over his special seat in the back, and squeezed his way onto my lap, where he would stay most of the journey.
As time passes and carries us higher into adulthood, the specifics of childhood grow fuzzy. What remains is the feeling of being in our brown home with red doors, with my mother, father, and sister. I remember it as if I am looking into a snow globe, a static moment of my life halted in time, only the warm, vague feeling lasting.
The year 2000 brought Y2K panic, the Sydney summer Olympics, and so on. But, most importantly to me, the year 2000 caused us to create the family time capsule, to be opened in the year 2020.
We are standing on the edge of our life. We have been for the past 3 weeks. What people don’t tell you about making a big life change is that at first it’s exciting. What we didn’t know was how mentally difficult the state of limbo can be.
And just like that, a decade has passed. When I think about the year 2020 approaching, I think back to New Year’s Eve, 2000. My family decided to put together a time capsule, to be opened in exactly 20 years. In my 6 year old mind, this concept was incredible. I would be 26 when we opened up the time capsule. What would my life be like? Would I still be on the coast of Maine? Would I have gone to college, gotten married? 2020 bounced in my mind every New Year’s Eve since then.
Fifteen months living on a small army base in Vilseck, Germany, coming to a close. Unlike my usual habit of talking (or writing) with no end in sight, I don’t quite have the words today. So, this Wednesday, instead of posting a series of writing prompts, or a wordy life reflection with a heavy dose of nostalgia, I’m doing something different. Something for me.
Our first year of marriage sealed in these 7 boxes, full of the menial, yet meaningful items that make our days go by, showing us how little we actually need to be happy. In one day this organized chaos will be systematically removed and loaded onto a truck, then a boat, then a port, then our new home. Our house will echo in the emptiness, the end of this chapter.
Christmas morning rolls around. A big box, wrapped in gold paper and an oversized bow sits under the tree, an eager puppy waiting inside. This puppy is a blank slate, ready to be trained, immediately loving everyone around him, and would rarely have an accident in the house. He would understand the expectations without being trained over and over again. He would adjust into our family routine without a hiccup. If you’ve ever had a dog, you know what you just read isn’t reality, even a little bit.
In the past, I’ve written about leaving, about saying goodbye to what you once knew, about the fear of forgetting. Now we’re thrown in the boiling stew once again, our essence of life here about to be lifted and dropped in a new country, a new home.
1. Flying out of Maine, landing in Munich, then driving onto an American army base created an eerie sense of culture shock. The base is a tiny piece of America in the middle of Germany, with fast food restaurants like Popeye’s, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Southern accents, and the National Anthem playing before every movie on post. American flags.
Rovinj is an eclectic mix of colorful shutters, winding, white stone pathways, laundry hanging from multiple stories of windows, and a summer breeze. It’s almost more Mamma Mia than the film itself. Like with any location we’ve traveled to, there were many lessons we learned during our four days in the idyllic (former) island city of Rovinj.
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