This is the first spring in three years that I am not planning an exciting summer adventure. My adult brain is stepping in and reminding me that I actually don’t have the funds to spend another summer
galavanting working in Europe, as much as I would love to. So, although I know this is the logical step to take, and as much as I know there are fun and incredible things I can do in California this summer, I’m already overcome with nostalgia for my Swiss mountain home, and for the freedom of traveling.
There is a unique type of nostalgia for traveling. Somehow, it’s a different flavor from College Nostalgia, High School Nostalgia, and even Childhood Nostalgia. While traveling, the identity you find, craft, and receive is so different from all others. It’s the ultimate freedom- all you have is yourself and your suitcase, and all that truly matters is your passport. I can’t help but liken the experience of travel to nighttime skinny dipping- you get to experience all the joy and freedom without ever worrying that your companions will notice or care that you’re not actually wearing a bathing suit.
The relationships you form are short-lived, so, in a way, you get to be yourself more completely than other moments. You can live to greater extremes, because you’re not so concerned with impressing others, with forming positive impressions for the “future,” because all that exists is the present.
I look back on friendships forged overseas, and they almost seem more genuine than those I have at “home” because they are so simple, and based so lightly upon the mutual fact of existence. Every day, every conversation, every bite you take, is a moment you can never have again, so every second counts. You can’t help but fall in love with every city you find, because, despite its imperfections, you may never be there again, and seeing the flaws brings you nothing.
I suppose that what I’m nostalgic for is this extreme living, loving, learning. As much fun as it is to be a tourist in your own town, there’s no way to surround yourself with the same community of travelers and diversity that one has overseas, there’s no way to step straight into a world and a reality vastly different from your own. You can’t help but feel that someone has turned the lights on during your nightswim. Yes, the philosophies can be carried forward, the random encounters and new experiences, but LA smog is somehow far less bearable than the pollution of Beirut, and the rolling brown hills of California will never quite compare to the extreme craggy green of the Alps. I miss the close hot humidity and musically unending cacophony of Beirut, the soft green fog of Swiss mornings, the still, stifling heat of Rome, the low-hanging grey of London, and all the promise that foreign mornings hold.
I got a little carried away with this theme. Perhaps it’s because I haven’t posted in a long, long time, but somehow every picture I looked at fit the description of ‘beyond’ – I even cut out quite a few! I generally favor pictures taken with incredibly low aperture, which really emphasize the subject of the photograph, but I love it when fore and background play equal parts in telling the story.
Benches overlooking the Alps, Rochers-de-Naye, Switzerland. This was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had- thirty of us gathered to hike from our West-facing Caux up to the highest point in the area to see the sunrise, a hike which began at 2 in the morning and totalled 13 miles. I snapped this one just before sunrise.
The view of Caux on our way home – sun up and exhausted.
A beautiful fountain in Basel, Switzerland. What’s beyond it? The slow-moving Rhine.
Thistle on a beach north of Beirut, Lebanon.
I took these two pictures on the same day, as well, and it was also one of the highlights of the summer. My dear friend Hady (the hand in the picture above) took me to his favorite spearfishing beach. We packed a cooler with Rose, ice, and snacks, and had one of the most beautiful and serene days I’ve ever experienced. Although I didn’t shoot anything, I did learn how to use a spear gun, and saw incredible underwater wildlife.
I love surprises. Parties, presents… anything and everything. However, it’s hard to capture that surprise since it’s often so contextual. Here are three instances that took me by surprise.
A three-wheeled car in downtown Claremont, CA
Green isn’t a color that occurs in nature too much here in Southern California. I’ve grown up loving the mustard browns of the foothills; green stands out like neon on this backdrop, so I take note of it when I find it. I was overwhelmed by the rolling green hills of the Scottish highlands, and I appreciate the lush green of the Alps as much as I love the scrubby green cacti here at home.
A window box of peonies in Downe, Kent, UK, a moss-grown lamp in the subterranean wine tunnels of Ksara, Lebanon, the rolling terraced vineyards of Lavaux, Switzerland, grapes, winemaker inspecting his vines, Testuz, Switzerland, sunflowers from the farmer’s market, Claremont, CA, the gardens at Hampton Court, UK, Edinburgh Castle, UK, the graveyard where Shakespeare is buried, Stratford-upon-Avon, UK, benches at dawn, Rochers de Naye, Switzerland, a mishappen pepper, Beirut, Lebanon, a rare glimpse of green through the doors of an old crusader castle, Byblos, Lebanon, cacti at Alma Rosa winery, Santa Rosa, CA, Sanford winery, Santa Rosa, CA, succulents, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, bubbles in the park across the street from my house, Claremont, CA.
Everyday life is near impossible to capture while traveling, if only because everything seems so incredible. I think this is why I love street performers and farmer’s markets- because they are so familiar the world over, and still so full of local flavor.