You Can Never Go “Home” Again

Hello my Lovers of Random. I hope at this point I have satiated your needs for updates on the adventure that was Remote Year Earhart. Even though I’ve closed the chapter of that particular adventure, I am in no way done. There will be sequels, both in the form of adventures with new ‘Krews’ as well as reunions with Earhart past. As I write this post, I’m 10,000ft in the air on my way to Denver to see Marky, my first Earhart neck to hug since my tearful goodbye with the ever so beautiful Mel at the Cancun Airport. But before I land and begin the second chapter of my nomad life, let’s touch base about life in the US post RY.

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photo cred Ryan Nelson

I have to tell you that I truly didn’t know what to expect upon landing on native soil after a year abroad. I landed in Houston with time to make an earlier flight to Memphis and hopped terminals to see if I could secure a seat. With the help of the friendliest United gate agent I ever met, I made it onto the flight, only to be delayed, deplaned for maintenance, and reboarded 10 minutes after my original flight took off. I was rewarded with a seat in 1a, which I was grateful for as I found myself succumb to the emotions that had been hiding the past few weeks. Silent tears slid down my cheeks nearly the entire flight, and I’m thankful for the flight attendant, who handed me tissues and a Jack on the rocks with no questions asked.

I landed at Memphis and after a snafu with my car rental caught a 45 minute Uber to my parent’s house in BFE Tennessee. I hadn’t clued them in to my early arrival, so when I rang the doorbell, there was a round of surprise and hugs, and an off comment or two about my red and puffy eyes. My unsuspecting nephew rounded the corner straight from the shower and his face lit up at the sight of his Aunt Krystal. Before I knew it, he was on me, and I wrapped him up in a bear hug and spun him around a few times. If that doesn’t cure the blues, idk what does.

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I spent a couple of days rummaging through the boxes left behind in my parent’s attic. It was almost reminiscent of being a kid and playing in my attic with my grandmother’s old clothes. Resurrecting #formerlifePino was surreal – although I did enjoy the full breadth of my shoe collection.

A couple of days in I was boarding a plane to Atlanta for Xerocon and an in person meeting with the HPC crew. The week was a whirlwind of co workers, new colleagues, fantastic speakers, and, as any good conference has, too much whiskey. Xerocon didn’t take enough out of me to not meet up with some ATL Citizens at the end of the week though, including the lovely Jess, my definite partner in crime had I been a Meraki. We had dinner, drinks, and talked about how the world didn’t’ get us as we watched the ATL night ride.

The next morning I was headed back to the fam for a chill week in good ol’ Oakland, TN. The week before I had dropped in on Crossfit Penance, a box not far from the ‘rents, so I got back into the routine of throwing weight around between hours of settling into my new role of Head of Client Experience at HPC. All in all, a welcome uneventful week.

Friday had me taking off for Birmingham with a quick stop in T-Town for a catch up and hair rescue with my stylist of 17 years. As soon as she touched my hair, he faced revealed everything I already knew… it was time to say goodbye to the golden locks, the lion’s mane mop of curls I had been torturing all year. Within the hour she had me fixed up, a brunette beauty again with layers and depth, free of split ends. The woman is a hair goddess and I am lucky to have her.

Birmingham kicked off with a mini class reunion of a few of us that crewed the night shift at UAB’s accounting program. We caught up over pork loin and beer before I hightailed it to catch up with the most consistent friend I’d had all year. She offered me refuge on night one, and we drank local craft brews while catching up on all the gossip.

The next morning was Saturday, which in my mind, means a couple things in BHM. 1) Pepper Place Market, with a guaranteed stop to see the Salsa Guy (who remembered me after a year abroad) and 2) Brunch at El Barrio, complete with a Palmoa for Two (but really just for me) and the Cuban Madam. After getting my fix of both of the above with Aaron and a guest appearance from the #PIC, I headed to the ‘burbs t meet up with some old bar patrons and friends at a memorial to honor our fallen comrades (oh, you thought I meant old as in time… no.. they’re old as in age. JK guys, love you all). After a lot of hugs and too many stories, I headed back downtown to join the “family” for dinner at my FAVORITE spot, Highland’s Bar and Grill. As per usual, I was over served, over fed and welcomed back like I’d never been gone.

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Sundays in Birmingham are for brunch at Dyron’s, so I rustled up the other half of the ACs and we joined Sloan to chat over Titos and grapefruits (fresh pressed, of course) while munching on beignets, crab claws, and chicken and biscuits. I left brunch in hope of catching a Baron’s game, but an Alabama summer thunderstorm had other ideas, so beers at Good People with Sarah, the #PIC, Oliver and his fam was the play. Once the rain settled, the boys took off on their one wheels and Sarah and I headed to Jinsei for the best sushi in town. Once again, there was no love lost as I was welcomed back by Abe, still managing the place, and Patrick, still slinging the best Hot Kiss this side of the Prime Meridian.

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A slammed packed week of catching up with friends was promptly derailed once I saw my Gracie baby and realized she was sick. A trip to the vet confirmed she had leukemia and was struggling to breathe. Sarah and I made the decision to put he down, and I cried… for days. Despite my guilt and grief, I was able to muster the energy to make a few engagements, have a bowl of pasta at Gianmarco with Jake still nailing my wine tastes, compete in a competition at Wheelhouse and podium, hit the community pool with my Ella bug, and grab a Spicy Hawaiian from Slice with the ACs and the Ex and his new Boo.

Exhausted and spent, I hit the road back to the fam to spend a few more days with them before jetting off again. Between dinner at home with the ‘rents and dinner dates with my nephew, I met up with another Citizen and SS Shitshow crew member for some pizza and peanut butter pie with a mutual friend of ours. Is anyone catching a theme here yet? Food. It’s all about the food.

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My bags are once again packed, and I’m toting 60lbs of my life off to Denver before hitting the world again. First up Europe, then South Africa for an extended stay. While it was good to see faces, hug necks, and eat and drink my way through my former life, it didn’t quite fit anymore. There was an uncomfortableness to the comfortability of it, and I found myself anxious to get on the road again. I got a hitch in my stomach every time someone asked how it was to be “home”, and I quickly realized that for me, Birmingham would never be “home” again. As amazing as it is, and although it holds some of my favorite souls, I have outgrown it, at least for now. So, the only reality I see is to keep going, onto the next home, on and on until I find that one place that captures my eye, heart and attention for the long term. Here goes nothing,

 

Stay Tuned Lovers.

Randomly Yours,

SR

CDMX Part Dos: T Minus 3 weeks

Considering this is a continuation of a series, I’m thinking there’s no need for the usual witty intro, the Lovers greeting, the quippy jokes. Or maybe I’m just a little lazy about it these days. Either way, in lieu of this year long staple, I’m just going to launch into week two of CDMX.

The night after the Klingande show, the majority of the crew went on hot air ballon rides at the Teotihuacan Pyramids. Knowing my propensity for being an absolute grouch on not enough sleep and need to crank out some work, I had decided to skip the trip and spent the {Sun}day catching up instead. When my roommates arrived back looking like zombies, I patted myself on the back, put the work away and fired up some Netflix.

The next day was more work work work with a side of PI planning. This month I had stepped up to help run our positive impact event, so I met up with Duffs, KSheng and the city team to throw together some plans for an epic last month event. I was suffering a second (and thankfully less severe) bout of Montezuma, so couch and girls time was in order after PI.

I was grateful to be feeling better later that week, because it was Temazcal time. Don’t have any idea what I’m talking about? It’s a sweat lodge experience. In a teeny tiny clay hut. Month 12 and I’m still facing fears. Dark. Claustrophobia. OPENING UP. Fears aside, the experience was like no other, and I left it pretty raw and open about some things. I took the opportunity to channel those emotions into some brutally honest conversations, because at this point, we’ve got less than three weeks left, so if there are to be no stones left unturned, let’s start kicking rocks.

After some air was cleared, the boys and I took to the bikes the next day to change the scenery for work a bit and pop our laptops up on Polanco. We start at Pujol, where we drank overpriced cocktails in between client calls. We moved to a new spot where we indulged in Italian dishes between rounds of mezcal. The Earhart crew is doing some damage nearby at a bowling alley, so we join up for a few rounds of pin dropping and beer drinking. As with most evenings, we cap it off with some tacos el pastor before calling it a night.

The next adventure proves to be more of a challenge than I bargained for. We’re signed up for a track where we are dropped at nearly 14k feet to hike up and into a volcano crater. I’ve tackled many a feat with a hangover this year – climbing up and rappelling down waterfalls, hikes to remote Thai villages, boat rides, etc… but today was different. Once we reached the edge of the volcano, before hiking down into it, we were offered the chance to summit one more peak. Being the guys girl I am, I followed the boys up without question. Mistake. I made it about 75% of the way up this peak before began to feel dizzy. I sat down and prepared myself for the descent. We made it back down, but I was light headed and irreconcilably nauseated. A few of the crew stayed behind with me, only forging ahead when I requested them to so that I didn’t have an audience to the eventual loss of my breakfast. The remainder of the day was a struggle where I continually felt like I was trudging through molasses. Add altitude sickness to the list of experiences for this year.  But the views….

In typical RY fashion, there wasn’t much time for recovery, especially considering the number of citizens in town that weekend. Rooftop bars, dance parties and mezcal ensue, with a late night taco stand stop soaking it all up before Trajineras in Xochimilco the next morning.  The roomies and I are running a bit late, grabbing supplies and hustling our way to the morning bus.  I’ve donned my shades for more reasons than one, but as we approach the bus, I’m grateful to have them as a shield for the tears that stream down my face when Kiwi pops off the bus, a surprise month 12 reappearance that has me smiles all day.

The trajineras are all of the fun and total shitshow that was promised by previous groups and when we pour our sun worn, alcohol saturated, over tired bodies onto the bus, I take it upon myself to remind everyone that the mother’s day surprise for our PLs that Marky and Mel put together is still a go at our place 30 minutes after our return.  A rally effort was made on all parts, and the Mommas appreciated the effort, even if we scared one and make the other cry.

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Temazcal, altitude sickness, and the return of good friends made for a good week two.  We’re cranking though it guys.  Week three coming your way shortly.

Specifically Yours,

SR