by Dannielle Cresp on April 25, 2013
I’ve been home nearly 3 weeks now, and I don’t really know what to tell you. The days are fine, most of them. They go by quickly. I seem to fill them with things, then it’s time to cook dinner and the sun sets again.
And then the ‘what on earth are you going to do with your life’ sense of impending doom comes back. All that energy and excitement that I felt coming home, that feeling that everything was going to be ok, it dissipated that Wednesday after I came home. Vanished. I got sick and the doubts crept in and set up camp in my head and they come back each evening.
For the first time in my life I’m looking at a future beyond 30. It’s not that I didn’t think I’d make it that far, but 27 always felt like such a huge obstacle to overcome that I never really thought ‘long term’. It probably seems ridiculous for anyone who has been there, done that. But it’s true. So now I’m back home and trying to work out which direction to take to make the next 10 years happy ones (for as much as I can be in control of that). I came home to create a happier, healthier future. That bit I know.
I’m back to running, slowly but surely I will pound that pavement until I feel like I can call myself a runner. I will use that time each morning to get out of my own head and just focus on running up that hill that looks like it’s flat until you’re running up it. I will make goals that are just for me and smile when I reach them and remind myself that there’s always tomorrow when I don’t quite make it.
As for work, well I’m really not sure. I don’t want to be a web designer long term. I got burnt out so badly by the end of last year that I couldn’t stand to look at code anymore, and with the time away from the computer, travelling and seeing people I realised just how bad it is for an introvert to work from home on her own ALL THE TIME. I couldn’t believe how much I loved the interaction with other people at Alt. How much people understood my story more when I told it in person. How good it felt to laugh with people and not just into my computer screen.
I know I need to find something that I love to do, that I’m good at, that gets me out of the house. I still want to run my own business, but I want it to be something that I want to do long term, not just something that will bring in the cash short term. It will be creative, because this is at my core. 20something years of drawing, writing and dreaming tell me that this is key. Whilst I love travel – I love that the memories are all mine. I thought about trying my hand at travel writing, but this trip made me realise it’s the joy I get out of travel that I cherish not the writing, and I worry that making it a job would take that away from me. A very selfish thing, I know.
I’m trying to be zen about all this not knowing and let it come to me organically, in the way it always does when things are meant to be, but the tutting and the (well meaning) asking what I’m doing now, are making me doubt myself. Thankfully I came home with a cash buffer, and I have a bit more time time to get my shit together. Sometimes I feel like I should just get in the car and drive until it comes to me, but then I remember that I’m not on my trip anymore and I don’t have a car. So I run when I can, and remind myself that I’m lucky that I had a home to come back to and time up my sleeve and when all else fails, I turn the music up as loud as I can and I sing my lungs out where no one can hear me missing the notes and sounding ridiculous.
It will all work out eventually, I just know it. Hopefully eventually comes soon. x
by Dannielle Cresp on March 1, 2013
I finished up my time in the USA in lovely New York City. It was an amazing experience and such a fun city to visit. I promise to post about it one day soon. But it’s arriving in Canada that I really wanted to tell you about.
It started at 3:45am on Saturday morning. After about 15 minutes sleep I got up and got ready for the 4am shuttle bus to Newark Airport. The flight wasn’t until 8:30am but the shuttle company insisted that we would need all that time (what for, I don’t know). I had checked in online the day before but I couldn’t get my boarding pass without scanning my passport first and checking my bags. There was a little glitch with the machine and it refused to print my bag labels and after one staff member pretending she couldn’t hear me when I asked for assistance and randomly pointing to someone else, another said I must have done it wrong. Finally a third member of staff switched it off and on again and then they printed. I felt like I was in the IT Crowd for a minute there.
Then I went to security, it was still 4.5 hours until my 1 hour flight to Toronto. There was one person in the queue in front of me. I seriously got into the airport before any of the food vendors were open! Then I grabbed a seat and waited for my flight. I’m sure Newark gets busy, but not so much at 5am. It was all pretty smooth sailing, even if there were hours to wait. The flight was fine, I had a little snooze and filled in my passenger card. The plane was so small that we walked out onto the tarmac and then back into the airport. There was a 15 minute walk through these tiny winding corridors until we were in the airport building. Down the escalator and I stopped for just a (shaky) second to snap the Welcome to Canada sign on my phone, thinking that there would be an immigration queue just on the other side of the doors.
When I got in there, I was the only one in the foreigner queue. There were a few in the Canadian queue, but I went straight to the customs officer. I handed over my passenger cards and told him I had a working holiday visa. He wrote something on my card I can only assume was in French as I had no idea what it meant, and then sent me on my way. I was a little bit confused. I still didn’t have my visa in my passport and I still didn’t know how long they would let me stay. I had been stressing about this for months! Another official pointed to a door when she saw what was written on my card and again I was the only person in the queue. (Have I told you how unsettling I find things that go fast?)
I got a kind immigration officer that gave me a two year visa without going through my documents. She explained the basic conditions of my visa, stapled it to a page in my passport and told me where the exit was. It was really easy. So easy that it gave me a false sense of security for how things would be in my first week here. Once I found my bags I went to meet an old friend who had offered to let me stay while I got settled. There was some miscommunication though, and I thought she meant a while longer than she did.
That coupled with some awful news from home that I’m still processing, made Monday and most of my first week pretty rocky and miserable. I had got my Social Insurance Number and my bank account sorted without too much stress, but things are done really differently to home and you notice it so much more when your head is already spinning. I went into Toronto on Tuesday hoping, by magic or miracle to find somewhere to live as soon as humanly possible. Having a base makes things so much better. What I quickly realised is that even with loads of money in your bank account, enough for more than 4 months rent, the places I looked at wouldn’t even accept my application without a letter of employment and cheques for first and last months rent (in the application, not after the place is actually yours). Ba Bow! No apartment quickly for me then. I hadn’t even started looking at applying for jobs yet.
So then the freaking out really began. I needed to find a job and an apartment this week. Well that’s where my brain was at with my accommodation not working out and me not wanting to spend all my savings on Toronto hotels. I got to a level of overwhelmed where I just could not stop crying. I won’t lie. It was not pretty. I thought that I would just get a hotel in Toronto for the weekend and into early next week and just start actively looking at both apartments and searching for jobs. What I didn’t factor in was that every hotel room and hostel room would be booked out due to some huge conference. Ba Bow! again!! It was really starting to tip me over the edge.
I was starting to give up. I was thinking about packing it in and flying home. Yep. That is the level of I-can’t-handle-this that I was at. But a local friend offered a lifeline – some company and place to stay Saturday night. I could find a hotel for Friday and I would just need to sort something out until at least Wednesday, when all the conference guests would be checking out. By 11pm, I knew that I couldn’t even look at it any more. I had been looking at short stay apartments, sublets, apartments, hotels and hostels online all day. My brain was fried.
I woke up this morning (Thursday) and decided to look at hotels again. Just for Sunday to Wednesday. Somewhere that while out of the city would be close enough to public transit that I could travel into it during the day and get to know it better. It was looking like the hotels at the airport would be my best bet. I was looking at all different ones, and checking their location on google maps to see how close to a station it was. And then somehow I ended up back at the website of the chain I’m currently staying in and they have a hotel (a basic one but not $400 a night!) that’s east of Toronto’s Downtown area and is actually in a lovely location on the streetcar line. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I don’t think I’ve ever booked anything so fast in my life. I have a reprieve from worrying about accommodation. At least for a couple of days.
For the first time since I landed in Canada on Saturday morning, I feel like I can breathe out. I loved what I saw of Toronto on Tuesday, and I can’t wait to get in there and see it more. I think I really will like it here. I just have to get through the hard part first. This is by far the craziest thing I have ever done. I said I wanted this year to make me feel more alive and it sure is so far.
*Ba Bow! is the noise that’s made on Family Feud when you get the answer wrong. (In case you thought I was extra crazy)
by Dannielle Cresp on February 8, 2013
I knew it was coming. There’s always a part of a trip where things start to unwind. In normal circumstances and when spread apart, the little things don’t get to you too much, but when the happen within a matter of days with the amplification of travel at the +3 week mark, it all begins to feel a bit hard.
It started on Monday morning. I was packing closing my suitcase for my flight to Charleston when I saw it. A crack in the hard case. Yes, in my very expensive fancy, saved for months for it, suitcase. It wasn’t bad enough that it wouldn’t survive the upcoming flights, but it was a problem that I didn’t need. Airport security was near empty, this should have warned me that trouble was coming. Too easy freaks me out. The plane was due for early departure, but arrived so late that we left late. Then we sat on the tarmac for 35 minutes waiting for clearance as we missed our spot. I had only a 44 minute layover in Atlanta, so this was not all that comforting to me.
The flight itself was pretty uneventful, but Atlanta is an awful airport to transit through. We got in and off the plane so late that I had to run through two terminals to make my flight. I was dressed for winter and the airport had the heating set to ‘Hawaiian Getaway’. The plane got away on time and I arrived into Charleston early, but they called my name over the PA, unlike me, by bag couldn’t run for the flight and didn’t make it. They could get it to me that night, but there would be a 4-6 hour wait. I felt a bit like I was missing a limb. It arrived and the crack held up for the flight, but I knew that I needed a different bag until I could sort out the warranty. I felt really deflated that such a new bag could be damaged so easily.
Tuesday we found a good bag at a really good price, but I hated that I had to make an on the spot decision about something that I usually like to stew over. When I have to make quick decisions I often feel like I picked the wrong one – no matter the situation. I think this one might turn out ok though. The whole thing threw me though. It left me second guessing my decision all day.
Wednesday morning I knew that it was time to orgainse and book the hire car. This was the one thing for the trip that I had been putting off. All the different companies and the different prices were so confusing that I looked for months and still hadn’t made a decision on Wednesday morning. And then it all got way more confusing as the prices on the website are only half (or less) of what they will actually be charging your card! That sent me into a tailspin of indecision. Could I take a bus? Was there some other reasonably priced way to get there?
Short answer: no. I would have to pick a car company and hope for the best and take that big hit to the budget. I chose a company and got email confirmation of the price. I went back into my online booking to check and the price was $80 less. More confusion for my poor brain! I called and it was hard to get a real person, but when I finally did, they said it was the cheaper price. I took a screenshot just in case and I’m glad I did.
Even after the rest of Wednesday being good, by the evening I was a bundle of tired, homesick nerves. I’d never driven on the right hand side of the road before. Would I be able to do it? The more anxious I got, the more homesick I got. It’s how it works with me. The more something feels too hard the more I want the easy of home. It’s nothing against the place I’m visiting, it’s just how it is.
By Thursday morning (today) I was so homesick I couldn’t write anything. I was stressing over the rental car and the potential hidden costs and the rainy day just wasn’t helping. I had the homesick blues. But things finally picked up after I got the car with the help of my lovely friend Sarah, who has (I promise) made this a lovely trip to Charleston minus all the curve balls.
When I got back to the hotel there was an email from home (that will always make me feel sooo much better) and time for me to put on my favourite music and just pack at my own cruisey pace. My blues started to disappear. I had conquered driving (back to the hotel at least) and was starting to get things the right way up.
I have so much still to share with you from lots of stops. But there’s so much that I’ve got really behind. I’m going to try to get some scheduled for next week after my big drive to Wilmington tomorrow. But they may not be in order any more. I’ve gone from nothing to blog to so much it’s hard to get it all out. More coming over the weekend or early next week.
*I promised myself that I would share the good and the bad of this trip. This is on the less great side, but I’m still having a good time. Charleston has been great despite this, and I will blog the awesomeness of it soon.