Life lately & Friday favorites

This is what my life has looked like the past few weeks: traveling around back and forth between North Carolina and Virginia (and briefly, Texas!) Boat rides and long runs and afternoon thunderstorms. Opportunities and disappointments. Possibility and uncertainty. Waiting. Catching up on reading. List-making. (Always list-making.) More waiting. Taking pictures of flowers.

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The most exciting news as of late is that we booked a venue and a date for our wedding next spring (!!!), and spent a wonderful, relaxing Easter weekend at home with family.

But mostly, my days are made up of alternately 1) planning way far in advance and 2) trying not to think much about the future in hopes of avoiding panic attacks. I’m reveling in unstructured time (so much reading; so many breakfast sandwiches) and then also loathing it, because truth be told, I am a structure-loving gal at heart.

This is a season of me trying to lean into fear and uncertainty….and succeeding and failing in roughly equal measure.

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A backyard escape

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I like to talk about how in my free time, I love to be outside. But if I’m being honest, here’s where you can find me a big chunk of the time: wistfully browsing breathtaking photos of faraway places on Pinterest, skimming articles on the trendy new travel destination, adding new spots in Sweden or Croatia or Alaska to an ever-growing mental bucket list. I’m daydreaming about the next spot on my list before I’ve even stepped off the return flight from the last one.

Part of this is an inevitable side effect of travel. It’s addictive. Anywhere you go, you’re bound to discover at least 10 more places you want to visit. There’s the local spot that you never knew existed until you visited the tourist destination nearby. And the city you never thought much about…until your hostel roommate gushed over for 20 minutes. Then there’s the places you’ve already been—but you just need to re-visit that tucked-away courtyard to sip the world’s best latte one more time.

Travel has the strange power to make you appreciate the comforts of home…while simultaneously making you itch to discover someplace new. It’s a part of the deal, and it’s fun to imagine where you might go next. Until it’s not.

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Learning to live in the moment

11,332 miles.

54 days.

25 states.

16 national parks.

Two tarantula encounters.

One fender bender.

Zero regrets.

… We’re back from our U.S. road trip!!!!!

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The “after” picture—all four of us (including the Subaru) made it back in one piece! Unfortunately, you can’t tell how extremely dirty everything and everyone is in this photo.

It was, in a word, a WHIRLWIND. After a couple of days basking in the simple pleasures of things like a real bed and a hot shower, I’m still processing everything that we experienced. I think I might be for a while yet. (Luckily we took eight billion pictures to help me remember it all.) But one thing I can confidently say is that we live in a giant, huge, stunningly beautiful, diverse, enormous country. (Did I mention how large it is?)

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Rubber bands & Ziploc bags

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Locked & loaded: ready for two months on the road

The summer before I went to college, I spent MONTHS getting ready.

I made lists on lists on lists. Over and over I ran through them all in my head, trying to think of every possible thing I could need for my dorm room. One morning, my mom found me rummaging through a cabinet, hoarding a small selection of office supplies: rubber bands, scotch tape, scissors, Ziploc bags.

“You know,” she said—in the simultaneously kind yet all-knowing voice only a mother can master—”I bet there’s someplace in Chapel Hill you can buy those if you need them.”

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To the little Southern town that welcomed me in

Let me start with a confession. When I first decided to take a leap of faith and move to a tiny town in the heart of the South, I wasn’t exactly planning on staying very long. I thought I would get a good start in my career, get a taste of working in higher education, and move on within a year or two.

But you had other things in mind. And four years later, here we are.

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Off to a smashing start

In which we encounter the first mishap of our trip before even leaving the driveway.

I apologize for the long break between posts (and also for the potato quality photos here—we left our good camera in North Carolina a few weeks ago and finally got it back today).

My excuse is that this is what my life has looked like for the past two weeks or so:

Moving is always chaos. Then, consider the fact that we’re moving away from somewhere, but not to anywhere—therefore, our stuff is being spread out among a total of two houses and three storage units (not counting what we’re taking with us, which also had to be separated and packed).

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There’s something about switchbacks.

I think I remember the exact moment I fell in love with the mountains.

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I was a camper for the first time at a little summer camp near Brevard, NC called the Green River Preserve (a magical place that I could write a LOT about, but that’s another post for another time). It was the summer between seventh and eighth grades—the same summer that I grew about a foot, going suddenly from normal-sized middle-schooler to gawky preteen who had no idea what to do with her new lanky limbs.

To make things even better, I was mentally and emotionally a late-bloomer. So not only did I tower over all the boys my age, but I also didn’t quite understand why all the girls were so worried about them anyway. I felt self-conscious and uneasy in my own skin. Like most kids at that age, I just wanted to fit in, when I—quite literally—stuck out.

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