In the past six weeks I’ve visited 12 cities (most of them for the first time) and driven over 4,600 miles all by myself. I’ve read 5 books, launched a website, booked two weddings, and created a new program for my business (launching later this fall!). I’ve eaten SO many mouth-watering meals (and SO many fried cheese curds).
In these 4,600 miles I’ve learned that not working leads to doing some really, extraordinarily good work. I’ve spent time in coffee shops, parks, beaches (the kind attached to lakes…not oceans), restaurants, friends apartments, and SO MUCH TIME in my car. I definitely gained weight (soooo many cheese curds, omg) and was surprised that many of my favorite meals were the cheap ones from trucks or dives across the country. On a more real level, I’ve reconnected to some things that fell by the wayside when I was going through my last round of big life struggles. I started journaling again (you know, pen to paper kind of shit), and started meal-planning and actually cooking the meals I planned for rather than grabbing to-go food at every chance I had. I also got back into the habit of reading purely for pleasure and I read a ton of books about women that are kicking serious ass. I set some new personal goals for myself and I’m walking back into my life in Phoenix feeling like a completely new person.
Travel is so good for the soul and every day I am so grateful for the opportunity to do work that feeds me creatively (and actually puts food on my table) and to be in a position where I can go on a 6 week long adventure. I’m still working through all the feels from my trip but wanted to share some pictures from the stops I made.
Salsa night in Denver, CO at Little Man Ice Cream
Air BnB in Lucas, Kansas – Creepiest Stop of the Trip
Garden of Eden
Coffee shop hangs with Zens in Milwaukee
The incredibly picture perfect Zens house
I Believe…in Nashville
Experiencing the hot springs in a 103-year-old bath business
Today is not a good day. Today is one of those days when you’re feeling overwhlemed. Today is the day when you don’t get enough sleep. When you’re feeling lonely. When it’s actually kind of shitty that you’re the single friend. When you and your guy decide to “go on a break” the week of Valentine’s day. When you’re a florist so the rest of your week will be spent making beautiful flower arrangements for the couples that aren’t on breaks.
Today is one of those days where you can’t take your new rescue dog with you to the meeting so you have to leave her at home. And your dog really freaks out when you leave her at home. So while you’re gone she pees and poops on your white rug and you get a note taped to your door asking you to handle your dogs “CONSTANT scratching, barking, and crying”. Today is the day that reinforces how shitty your neighbors are.
Today is the day with all of the anxiety. With the elephant on your chest and the tears in your eyes. Today is the day when you feel like curling up under a heap of blankets and watching sad movies so you can feel justified in your shitty mood. Today it’s not good to be a 20-something-business-owner. Today you just want to fly under the radar. Today you maybe just need a hug.
But tomorrow? That’s going to be a good one.
‘Girls like you’ your mother says
‘are going to be disappointed a lot.’
She’s chopping coriander so fast that her hand is a blur
and you’re 12 and you’re standing
like a tremble, grubby knees and tear stained cheeks,
an offering in front of her
‘Why?’ Your voice is a quiet shake.
She puts the knife down and calls you ‘jaan’
she holds your face in her wet hands,
you don’t flinch because this
is what love looks like
she kisses your forehead like forgiveness
‘because you mean what you say,
you think other people are the same.’
She tells you that she spent four years
trying to learn their language
but people ask how you are
and walk away before you can tell them.
‘I’d rather be silent.’ She says.
‘At least being quiet is honest.’
You’ll come home seven years later
wearing your heart like a bruise
on the inside of your sleeve
‘mama,’ you’ll say, voice like a thunder crack
‘he said he loved me, and I believed him,
I shouldn’t have,
I think that he lied.’
She’ll be older then, but she’ll kiss you
just as tender, just as birdlike.
‘Is it my fault?’ You’ll ask.
She is half lioness, half woman. She is all roar.
‘Listen to me’ she calls you her soul again.
She says it in your language so you know
that she means it.
‘You are so infinitely tender,’ she takes the frown
of your face in her hands and holds it carefully
‘People will not always know what to do with that.
You can’t ever be sorry for the way you loved,
You can’t be sorry for who you loved.
Don’t ever let them bend you backwards
don’t let them make you hard or bitter.’
Her voice turns into a growl
‘You did not get this from me.
Somewhere inside of you there is rain.
Somewhere in your stomach,
something beautiful is growing
and it is infinite.
Don’t you let them try and take that from you,
you are open and you are a flood,
someday someone is going to want to die in you.’”
Ah, the third and final part of my food journey through the Pacific Northwest.
We started Portland on a high note with Pok Pok. This meal was amazing. They have such a beautifully constructed menu and we had a difficult time deciding what to order. Ultimately, we went with an order of the wings and the Kaeng Heng Leh. I don’t like anything from the sea but I actually enjoyed the wings (they’re made with fish sauce) and I died over my Kaeng Heng Leh (pork belly served in this incredible curry sauce).
Salt & Straw
OH MY GOD THIS ICE CREAM IS NOT REAL LIFE! I first heard about Salt & Straw on Unique Sweets a few years ago. The bone marrow ice cream immediately landed on my to-eat list and it was at the top of my list of places to hit in Portland on this trip. We visited the first night and sampled the bone marrow & bourbon smoked cherries, tomato water with olive oil, green fennel & maple, carrot & watermelon, and honey balsamic strawberry with cracked pepper. I ended up choosing the tomato water with olive oil and it completely lived up to the hype that I’ve heard for the past few years. We went twice.
We waited 100 years to eat here but I think it was worth it. We ordered the garden grits (cheddar grits with seasonal veggies) and added andouille to it and we ordered the heirloom tomato eggs benedict. The amount of food was insaneeeee. We could have ordered one dish and still had some leftovers. The best part of the meal was the potatoes served with the eggs benny!
Flight of beer + tater tots? YES! My favorite was the Marionberry Bragget.
This totally lived up to the hype! Another Portland mainstay. We got the classic maple bacon doughnut, ordered an ol’ dirty bastard (oreos and peanut butter), a french cruller, and one topped with Cap’n Crunch! Amazing!
This was the last meal of our Portland adventure! It was suggested by a friend of mine with awesome taste so I’m thrilled we were able to check it out. I ordered the Pho’rench Dip (roast beef, hoisin, sambal mayo, bean sprouts, and pho beef broth) and the PBLT (pork belly, arugula, tomato, and a dreamy aioli). This was so delicious. I highly recommend!