A little more than a week ago I didn’t know any of you. And now I’m telling old stories to your friend who I just met at the beach in the morning and making plans to meet later. // Things I did not take photos of: a bottle of white wine cooling in the shade, the red-checked tablecloth fluttering in the breeze. a woman carrying a book titled “How to Not Die” (I can’t remember what she looks like anymore). A dog carrying its human’s baseball cap in its mouth ambling down Rothschild’s avenue. Is salvation freedom? We don’t even have to be high to think about these things. Washing shorts and underwear hopelessly in the hostel sink with cheap hand-soap. What does it mean to always be delivering new and interesting content? He will always know that there could be more. this rooftop right now, waves of cigarette smoke, the clouds dusky pink with light pollution. (Ein Gedi, Israel 2017)

You’re walking through a place you’ve passed hundreds, thousands of times, and yet you still know nothing about it. The mess of unburied phone wires, tangerine-coloured street lights set against a fading teal sky. Other people’s homes, other people’s lights. You miss that magical window when pride wasn’t an element of concern. When there was nothing that needed to be obscured, not even the stuff on the edge of your brain. The cold feels nice, although you know you’ll get more than you can stomach soon enough. You think back to a couple of nights ago, as you were falling asleep, how the shadows of the rhododendron bush outside your window bobbed along the blinds. How everything in the darkened room looked larger than life. Remember that shade and shadow might as well be the same. (The Garden Tomb, Israel 2017)

I find myself looking for signs everywhere but unable to believe anything. Life is story, yes, but whose story is this? // The red string that my friend tied on my right anklet for good luck is wearing thin. It’s just a matter of time. This past week I was thinking about how things are going well... something is bound to not be real. I would like to say that I’m in pursuit of the truth, but what I'm really unsure of is whether I am strong enough to face it. I will always have the capacity for love. But love lies. I make plans around untrue things. Does that make them real? (Jerusalem, Israel, 2017).

The kibbutz we visit is a mile east of Gaza. Elon, our guide, says that life is simple here: working is the priority; people feel blessed to create. One gives as much as one can, and gets as much as one needs. Outsiders struggle to understand why people would want to live in such a place, where the threat of missile attacks has permeated every aspect of reality. You have 15 seconds to get to a bomb shelter should the red alert alarms go off, day or night (including the waking and gathering of sleeping children, and praying that no one has been incapacitated by shock). It is difficult to convey this urgency to kids without terrifying them. In 2014, this tiny Gaza strip area had 44% of that year's explosives dropped on it. The white paint here on the walls of a school library conceal mortar damage. Should these people leave, they would be leaving everything that means anything to them. Displacement, in this case, is worse than terror. People came back eventually to water plants and check on homes. It has been 4 months since the last attack. people do their best to enjoy their lives– they go to the pool and play with their kids. Compared to the pollution and restlessness of the city, this is paradise. They are still hurting, but still they choose to stay. Elon and his wife got married by the pool. They will let their kids know that none of this is a coincidence

(Palestine, 2017)

We stumbled upon the festival of lights the other night. It was one of those rare moments when you realize you did something right by accident, you know? Nekesa and I were starving at this point, we didn’t have lunch and most places were closed due to Shabbat. Thank goodness we were living in the Arab quarter. Our hostel is linked to a produce shop; they have white mulberries. We get shawarma with hot sauce and eat it in front of the shop; behind us a group of dutch tourists break into a watermelon with their hands. We make our way into the Old City, where the line dividing Muslim and Jewish quarter are blurred (some Israelis had settled into the Arab quarters before/after the lines were drawn, and even today Israeli flags fly above non-Orthodox sections). Slowly, we realize the city is preparing for something. We ask some IDF soldiers about the buzz and they tell us it’s the festival of lights. Jeremy would be proud of us for retracing our steps. We follow the orange arrows and find white elephants blown up. Families trickle in, all dressed up, bearing gifts and prepared for a joyous night. A lean boy walks out of an ancient metal door, clad in Adidas apparel. The past and the present, Nekesa giggles. (Jerusalem, Israel 2017)

A god role that nobody fits. The destruction of an identity- something that is inherently rooted in and shaped by conflict. Is it possible to compromise ideas of spiritual dimensions, or is that just a cosmic joke? The less dogmatic one is of their beliefs, the more capable they are of change. I'm personally wondering if decency trumps truth sometimes... Truth exists in God, not within me or any of us. Compromise is the desire to acknowledge a truth that exists beyond us. Fundamentalism does not necessarily equate extremism. //Arafat has never stepped foot in a true settlement camp before. Palestinian children do not love Palestine because they do not consider it home. Their home is no man's land. One can’t blame Israelis for not shitting on their country for all of its atrocities; politics are usually not representative of the people (my guide said that most governmental members have no real Jewish ancestry). Don’t be so arrogant as to believe you get to decide what is peace or justice, what is desperately needed is moving toward more coexistence, fairness, and human dignity, not just cataloging all the wrongs that goes back to nearly biblical roots in these holy lands. But the unpleasant truth is that too much empathy for people- understanding too well makes them think that you will do everything for them- this too is a form of paralysis. There must be space for change and adaptation, yet human nature inhibits this. (Jerusalem, 2017)

“Israelites have pressed a button to decide a lot of negative things for Palestine. What do you want me to say?”

//

Bullet holes in the walls of a school in a refugee camp (Bethlehem, Area B). There are no windows in the walls that face the Israeli side, as the risk from snipers is not worth it.//

Hamas released a charter, stating that they are willing to recognize Israel and accept the 1967 borders. Yet they continue to fire rockets at Israel (West Bank, Israel 2017).

I don’t know why, this still resonates with me so much more than a year after my visit there. The heat, the overwhelming complexities of the pro-Israel pro-Palestine pro-humanity arguments. I remember searching up loads of documents on the Oslo accords, crimes committed against refugees in camps and terrorist bombings in Jerusalem. It always comes back to questions of security and ownership. I think about my West Bank guide, the one who smoked endless cigarettes, who waved away the falafel wraps at lunch in the intense midday sun. He had spent years working in Sri Lanka, if I remember correctly, but decided to return to Palestine where people who wanted to learn would come to him. It’s so depressing not being there but I must shamefully admit, a relief in some ways. (Palestine, 2017).

Red signs in Arabic, Hebrew, and English dominate the landscape as roads branch off of Israeli-controlled West Bank highways into Palestinian territory (the colour of the license plates reveal the driver’s identity- white for Palestinians, yellow for Israelis. Swapping vehicles are grounds for arrest). The signs warn that Israeli entrance is “forbidden, dangerous to your lives, and against the Israeli law.” One cannot be blamed for interpreting this as a campaign of fear and division. The Oslo II Accord (1995) divided the West Bank into 3 areas: A, B, and C. Ensuing demarcation cut across immemorial olive groves, separating generations from generational land. In this part of the world, land is identity- it signifies your heritage, your culture, your existence. This, too, can be taken away. As it has been.

// The extension of the Western Wall has been denounced as an apartheid wall. Is that too harsh? One could say, let’s not make it (politics) about race. But when we live in a world where reality itself is questioned, we’ll never make it to morals. //As an outsider learning about this, talking to birthright westerners, anti-Zionist jews, young refugees, and Palestinians who have gone across the world only to come back to a jagged home, a place where the audience is made up of “people who are actually interested,” I want to listen to everyone and just learn. But these are wounds that will never satisfactorily heal. Instead I feel: guilt for forgetting to care, guilt for going about with the rest of my life (because is there another way)? So many modern day tragedies, one loses track… (Palestine, 2017).

Walking the dog on a perfect pre-summer evening. Despite having outgrown this home, a rush of feelings still cascades; I look at the lilac shadows on the asphalt road. Always there this time of year but never the same. I am the same person, of course, but it doesn't feel that way. I can hide being tired far more easily now, I can active the entire day but still have trouble sleeping at night. Always trying to push myself to the point of physical exhaustion, the idea itself is exhausting. Sometimes I feel like I am so very close. So close, I can almost feel it.

He knows I have a lot going on and that my thoughts are complicated but still. I feel myself about to be engulfed by the pit of unrequitedness and sense of loss that happens every so often. Being aware that this is happening helps, I can try to brace myself, but it’s not enough.// In bed that morning, we were going through the 36 questions you ask to fall in love. He asked me the one about which ability I would choose to wake up with tomorrow. I replied, a sense of belonging- feeling like I know where I should be and what I should be doing. Everything will fall in place with that– I imagine that that’s how things work. (Lofoten Islands, 2017)

It’s the last night, and I had to spend it here. Got in the water a couple of times, liked how it took away the heat of the day and wanted to remember how clean it felt. The rocky coast, illuminated against the dark water. A place transformed by nothing but light, the cause of everything. The longer you’ve been somewhere, the harder it is to leave. There’s just more of your heart to leave behind. I used to be uneasy swimming by myself in pools but I’m not afraid anymore. The evening people seem more solitary. Some smoke or look out across the vista; there aren’t as many couples as one would expect. The group left were some guys who sat higher up than me, who called out goodnight as I left. A different, younger me would have walked over to say hello, hang out for a bit. It’s been a lot harder to put myself out there these days. (Sentier du Littoral, France, 2018)

I think I’ve always know that I have an addictive personality. Most of the time, I try to harness it for something good, something that doesn’t involve a slippery slope. I haven’t been able to do anything but run for a while, and days when I don’t make it out in time are excruciating. I feel like my body stagnates; the inability to physically go somewhere (even if it is just navigating the same wretchedly unsafe roads ) makes me an unbearable person to be around. I’ve gotten to the point where i can practically feel the dopamine hits. This has led to me make decisions against my better judgment- just a couple of days ago, I couldn’t get out of the house until sunset and someone tried to grab me on the street. Similarly, I find myself going to clubs or just out, searching for that thing that makes you feel alive. Same with cigarettes- I’ve smoked a handful along the way (gross I know). But I could feel my cells turning, my body getting hooked, so I stopped. And then the abstract ones- an addiction to being in challenging situations. sometimes I feel that I subconsciously make things difficult for myself in utterly pointless ways just to keep it interesting. I’m addicted to finding new places, making memories to keep myself raw for months afterward, the feeling of being somewhere, doing something , testing mental and physical limits and getting away with the kind of shit only young people can. Addicted to meeting people, seeing the goodness and kindness before anything else surfaces. Addicted to the idea that possibilities will always be there for me. So here I am, with so many muddled memories that aren’t accurate depictions of how people and places really are. I can’t shake the pull of searching for something that makes me feel complete, but also can’t help but leave parts of myself in special places and people. (New Hampshire, 2019)



I used to subconsciously spend a lot of time forgetting. When I do try to recall certain things, I find that they have already slipped away. It’s easy for me to sink into dark places, where thoughts and present situations pile up and convince me that nothing ends up being that tangible or worth it. After this wave passes I find it hard to believe I’ve ever felt that way; there is so much of the world that I’m in love with. But the one thing I want most has always stayed the same- for all of this to mean something. I’m thankful for all the magnificent things I’ve witnessed along with all the down-low dirt feelings. Surely it is all building up into something much more deliberate, and rooted in an incomprehensible truth. (New Hampshire, 2019)

The familiarity of being on the road alone sets in, with it the same blues. There’s always someone there to save your ass. You aren’t hungry but walk the mile to the centre just to get out. Your waiter is the friendliest human and recommends a good dish, Manchurian cauliflower. He has a warm smile. It’s cool here in the mountains, finally, you can walk outside without sweating out your guts. At a street restaurant, three men make those famous Kerala parathas with deft movements, actions worn to the point of being second nature. A smear of ghee, fanning dough into translucent thinness, rolling it up and doing it all over again. You watch for so long that one of the men calls you over for a shot of chai. Isn’t that how it should be– stick around longer than most people would care, but leave before you get stuck. You think of the only two places at present that you would actually want to be stuck in forever. One of them has never existed. (Munnar, India 2018)

Blisters have steadily been forming on the left ball of my foot, one over the other. There must be a metaphor for this somewhere. I can’t shake the feeling that there is something haunting me, something from the past. Do you ever get that feeling? That all the wrongs you’ve committed are out for blood. The unshakeable feeling that you will feel alone no matter what you do. My friend was saying, I feel like you have run on rougher roads in your life. I think I have. But these hills are killing me.// I want you one minute closer. That’s a sixth of the way to the sun, if we’re talking light years. You remember what my neck smells like. I know you were safe and happy then because you said so. There wasn’t much else to say. Our minds are blanks. The feeling of reaching for your feelings in the dark… I wish you knew, but am also glad you don’t. You don’t seem to care enough to look a little deeper. Why is that? We are similar in so many ways. I want to hurt you, make you realize what you are about to lose. What are you about to lose? I think about Rovaniemi, walking through the quiet snowy streets in subzero temps. The snow crunch was so loud. How a group of Nepalese guys pretty much saved my life.  It’s stupid to consider hypotheticals. (Magadi, Kenya, 2019)

The idea of comfort. Of giving people attention. How to give it selflessly and knowing where to search. There’s a hierarchy to things, he was telling me, regarding how attention can be given. The theory is that many of the problems of the world stem from a lack of attention, a lack of comfort. It’s part of the human experience for people to want something to turn to.  Vulnerability is one of the most viable ways of experiencing anything worth remembering.// A lack of comfort– just as how suffering is one of the truest indicators of reality. // He asked me why I tend to put his hand by his side, just underneath the upper arm. This is a purely subconscious act; I had no idea I did that. It must be an act of comfort, I said, it feels so stable to feel you there. (Hanoi, Vietnam, 2017)

After playing keep away for hours it was time to go back. Up ahead a river flowed into the ocean, depending on the tide. This place felt so keenly prehistoric and intact, its sense of belonging pulling us in. The path leading back to the village where we were staying was lined with glacial moraine rock. I think about all the things I didn’t take photos of, either because I thought I would remember or I didn’t think I could picture that kind of void that swallows everything else: Michael walking off in the distance, a boy chasing a donkey on the shore, shells half-buried in the sand. All of a sudden I’m standing in the water, my toe has split open again, and it’s just water and sky and sun seeping through sea mist. (Wild Coast, South Africa 2016)

It’s not wise to blame it on geography when what’s unresolved is within yourself. Because it won’t go away. You have this tendency to withdraw, go deep within yourself when the unrequitedness of the world is all too much (what a theme, isn’t it. Unrequitedness. Something not being returned. Is that a kind of loss? I guess it depends on how much you value the past…). Understanding always makes things better, albeit more complex. But this reticence has developed into a second nature that sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to break. It started out as a bad habit, hiding your true feelings out of fear of being misunderstood, judgment, shame. Somewhere along the way you stopped feeling like you could ever divulge true matters of the heart, the things inhabiting your mind, even to your closest friends. The edge grows into a wall. You decide to begin reclaiming yourself, stop letting things slide, being accountable because you want to build something with a bit more permanence. It’s been hard to climb over it. (Ngorongoro, Tanzania, 2018)

I am ready to hear you be wowed, our guide said. Upon entering, a flock of pigeons ascended those ancient columns with soft squawks, yet another ephemeral touch to a space that already feels of fleeting moments. Try as you might, it is impossible to be present enough to fully appreciate the vastness of what lies in front of you. And the hot desert light continues to beat down on sun-dazed heads. Slaves are mentioned regularly, a seemingly guilty tribute to those exquisitely expendable bodies that managed to conquer practically time itself. The 3000 year old temple is proof enough of that. You are brimming with awe, wondering about the history of everything, knowing that it is just another unconquerable vastness. (Luxor, Egypt 2016)

Traveling has made me a calmer person. I'm finding ways to trust my gut feelings. There’s no replacement for it. When you’re alone, sometimes in places with significant language barriers, you learn how to figure things out. Not look back on decisions; so much is based on faith. Lately. I've trusted strangers far more than is advisable (or as Nekesa would say, there's no reason for you to be alive). But that’s how you come away with just a bit more experience. // I’m so lucky to be back here. Pushing the sunsets once again with my inability to leave the house earlier (self quarantine of a sort, after all). I’m glad ultraviolet rays from the sun kill viruses. I'm glad I’m in the place where I can take care of myself knowing that those close to me are well. There’s this heaviness inside me though and I’m wondering if i’ll ever shake this exhaustion. At least I'm moving somewhere... (Egypt, 2016)


But what happens when you live past your own myths? A smallish place, with tangible grasps onto oblivion, where everything is either pretty or dirty. The one thing that no one can ever take away from you is how you experience the world. The heat is so strong and bright that everything shuts down during the day, no one is expected to work through it. (Luxor, Egypt 2016)

Pre-travel travels. You’re exhausted from doing nothing. Tired of wondering at the strangeness of things, i.e. why that girl with the black tulle skirt is so dressed up? Two trains through the landscape later, you see a bright pink and yellow mural on the back of an abandoned home- a single palm upraised toward the sky. What made someone bother to go through all the trouble of painting that? And do you think they’re doing better? Hey, sorry it had to be like that.

A friend dropped me a voice note days ago that I finally listened to… you know that feeling when you hear from someone and your brain automatically flips to a certain time? This one is so good and hazy, I think of dusky purple skies, lights blurred in the distance, unbelievably hot weather… anyway, there was something she said that made me pause and rewind: “So much has happened in our time last year, that we didn’t really have the chance to process. We graduated, we traveled, we started our fellowships..” While I’ve had more than my share of free time, I’ve always struggled with getting out of ruts and looped thinking and appreciating the current slice of time and place that i’m in. I always do in the end, but the lag is enervating. And I hate how unnecessary it is. Nostalgia never seems to come at a convenient time- I don’t want it to be a theme of my life- but I like how it reveals our desires, past, present, and hidden. (Lesotho, 2016)

Back when Erich was our driver, everyone felt safe with him even when we had absolutely no idea what the next day had in store. an adventure, I suggested, but not everyone was so certain. we were 4-6 hr behind schedule- typical- entering Lesotho with just a slot of rays remaining. snaking up one road, we approach a silent herder wrapped in his patterned blanket waits for his ambling sheep to cross. one can only imagine that singular existence. It’s getting chilly, the mountain air has a will of its own. We drive by a crowd of children, Michael’s window is down. They ask for a hug. You’re breaking my heart, he calls back to them. We finally pull on the rocky road to the lodge, with only 3 or 5 km left, I can’t remember exactly. The purple moon (or is it sky?) luminesces, the overlook is tenebrous from a constant cloud layer. Try to see a place for what it is without projecting yourself onto it. I have never been so happy to be cold, at least for the moment I can’t think of anything else. (Malealea, Lesotho 2016)

You arrived alone on a desolate island in search of solitude (desolate in the sense that the only town in the south, where you landed, had exactly zero cafes or rental cars left in the lot, but did not lack a prominent gin distillery… or twill distributor). For once, it worked out. You see that there is nothing left to do but to let go of your burdens- this incessant repression is draining- even though it has has morphed into what feels like a part of yourself. You go for a walk along the coast. Blue hour. Let it be an exuvial being. You think to yourself, what kind of a person would come to this kind of a place alone? But it is undeniably gorgeous. The luminous, inviting pools of water lie securely among the bellies of toppling hillsides. What good can come from this. You were never good at keeping with the rigidness of schedule, at accounting for time. And now you’re in a place and plane where none of that matters and there’s no one waiting for you. Last night, you dreamed you were underground, navigating a metro system of sorts, complete with turnstiles and wrong directions. How very boring your subconscious has gotten. You remember the urge to negotiate, to get something better out of what had already happened. You wonder what it would look like here if it were to snow; the susurrus of the wild grasses which emanate rose-tones despite the cooling temperature. But in your mind’s eye you are thousands of miles closer. Somehow the threads are still there: mindfulness of your present awareness, the uncertainty and fear of things to come nearly palpable. nobody asked you what this was all about. (Outer Hebrides, Scotland 2017)

So I thought it would be exciting to catch a ride (just follow Robin’s rules- 1. don’t wear a hat 2. whistle 3. don’t smile 4. don’t look too scruffy). The people at the hostel make it sound so easy, but here I am lugging my bags along, with no idea where I’ve landed or which way I should be going to “go south.” The first people who pick me up is an Arabic-speaking family; I’m squished between the girls in the backseat. the younger one is carrying eggs and the older one munching on chips as she uses her phone to simultaneously translate and figure out where I’m trying to go. They drop me off by the freeway; the sun can’t hold out much longer. A guy picks me up, we don’t talk at all and I’m free to just look at the aurora streaking the sky. But when he drops me off, I’m still a hundred miles away from where I should be. I wait by the side of this empty road for more than an hour- what i couldn’t comprehend earlier was the plain inefficiency of hitchhiking. The cold seeps in and I double up on everything– so much for not looking like a hobo. The motel across the rule is full, contrary to its vacancy sign. I wait out of desperation. Cars keep on pulling in the lot but only to turn around. Finally, this guy pulls up and tells me to get my bags. It doesn’t even matter to me which direction he’s going in, I just wanted to leave. He compliments my gloves- fingerless ones with crocheted flowers that I can photograph with, and holds up his own hands- leather racing gloves. He drives fast but I would have done the same on those roads. We’re driving through a dark grey stretch where the road looks like a vortex, endless and spaceless. The hotels are obscenely expensive and he won’t let me sleep in his car, so I crash on the floor of his friend’s house. They’re waking up early the next morning too, to work on a fishing boat. He pulls out bread and chicken curry salad to share, it’s 1 in the morning. 2 hr and 9 minutes- he checks his drive time. Not bad. (Kvaløya, Norway 2017)

He came by way of Afghanistan. My friend had joined an organization that pairs locals up with refugees as French conversation partners to help with the assimilation process. She meets with him once a week for an hour and a half; they sit by the canal and chat with each other. For someone who has only been living in France for 7 months, he is fantastic- practically fluent. He spent the previous two years in Germany before having to move on (learning both German and English in that time), and hasn’t been home since. He drew a map on a napkin for reference- the mountains in the north are stunning, good for skiing and getaways, but not the easiest place to live in. He talked about how the Taliban has made life unlivable, banning much of culture and tradition such as Eid, one of the most important muslim holidays, stripping away normalcy. I noticed his commemorative 10km race bag and asked him if he liked to run. Yes, and football too. In Afghanistan sports aren’t organized in the way westerners are used to. At home, he can’t even go for a run outside anymore for fear of “running into problems.” He has one of those faces that is not only objectively beautiful, but intriguing in a way that draws you in, makes you want to listen closely. You feel that here is so much he could say that you would never know otherwise. Stuff you want to hear. Lately, I’ve been more aware of people’s auras (even though I used to think that was too hippy-dippy for me). But it makes sense. It’s clear that he’s a brilliant person- he also talked about how hard it was to get a decent education in his country. (There were no good teachers at all? None.) You had to study and make that happen yourself if that’s what you really wanted. I thought about him studying hard late into the night, sneaking in runs to clear his head. He’s been through some shit. But he has an unmistakable sense of groundedness and hope in the world. See how he’s been forced out. And see how he adapts. I know I’ll never see him again but of course I wish him nothing but the best, the world has offered him so little already. (Paris, France 2018)

Miss bad weather, pulling over to witness storms unfold. Being a bad planner means one is wracked with fragmental thoughts, but also having a greater capacity for change. Still, too many disparate longings. Orange rinds, bits of milk chocolate bars, water-damaged journals, pens I can never keep track of. Blood blisters from wearing the wrong shoes, callouses, wet clothes leaving the body cold. basalt taking the blow. Trying to look directly at the horizon to see when this passes. There are no signs yet.

I’ve been really wanting to write about rivers for a while now- something about the way they move makes me envious. I imagine a river the colour of sunset; I see a river a few shades darker than my thinnest shirt. Crossing rivers can be confusing because the other side looks the same sometimes. I was listening to a podcast about indulgence and pleasure last night and it’s making me realize why I almost always tend to feel sad when I’m travelling for fun. Pleasure is more than the absence of suffering, sometimes it’s amplified by pain. I look over the Danube, through the misty rain. Things are not always as they appear. I’ve been there before. (Isle of Harris, Scotland, 2017)

Been a couple of wild weeks where it feels like everything I know, the internal things, swing wildly, dangerously. Some mornings I wake up to work in front of my computer and it feels like it hurts to not be outside. My dreams are a mess of night terrors and romanticized pasts, I dreamed that we were going to bike in Tanzania again and that we ran out of flour for the pies. Also the feeling of being chased that I’ve had my whole life. All the people i haven’t been able to keep in touch with because it’s hard to keep all the facets of my life together in the same plane of time… the guilt builds. I forget my Kenyan cell number, how my Sami host brother taught my to drive stick, where exactly the apricot tree is in Cedarville where I’d hike to and read underneath in its forgiving shade. All the fruit must be gone by now. //I think to myself, I’ve worked so hard to build up a picture of what I want, why can’t I see any of it? The depressive cycle that comes with being stationary after adrenaline and imagination-fueled adventures in totally removed and polar corners of the earth, it’s a thing. I’ve failed to keep up with routines that I’ve developed in the most unpredictable of conditions when I’m back at my parents’ house and everything I need is at my disposal. How ironic. The emptiness has always scared me the most, when I think too hard or it feels like I can’t think anymore, the nothing gets to me. The runs I go on prove that sunsets all over are beautiful in the same way – delicate pastels draw your attention, the patina of impermanence. but it’s not not Varanger, nor Arusha, or Alturas. Geography locks up my emotions. // When the desire to write, make photos, and train hard emerges, I know the worst is over. Sometimes i want to know, why can’t i just be better than myself. It’s nice to see the light again. (Masada, Israel, 2017)

Some things don’t get easier with time or practice. Leaving, for example. A younger version of myself couldn’t tear out of places fast enough, eager to meet new people and put down new roots. But i’ve felt the annoyance of travel wearing down on me in a way where i actually find myself choosing convenience over doing things ‘the hard way.’ The lure of expeditions and seeing previously unknown things remain ineluctable, same as the glow of afternoon light through the trees on the street near my childhood home that I’ve seen my whole life but can never quite remember. There’s increasingly more to let go of- I learn about how one must give up some things to make space for new ones, but I’m not sure how much more I can manage… the hole from letting go yawns.

The most beautiful sunsets are the ones I don’t take photos of. Although we are barely 700m up in altitude (at 69° latitude), it looks like we are up in the heavy. Thick, stormy clouds build up to a dramatic wall on the right. Up ahead, the lack of colour from the overcast light is a subdued blue (did you know that Russian speakers do a better job of discriminating between shades of blue because there’s no single word to describe that color? Functionality really does dictate form…) a vertical veil of fog rises from it. Mikkel hadn’t bothered to refuel his snowmobile until we (predictably) ran out; I was pissed and cold from not having eaten or peed in 14 hours. There’s a more efficient way to do things, I’m sure. It meant more time out there in the tundra, an ecosystem I had only read about up until now. with the snow melting, last year’s solvaer are peeking through. They taste thin, like promises leaking out. But having survived meters of snow all the same. (Varanger, 2019)

Off days are perfect for ice-fishing. Snowmobiling to Lake Näskämö was joy enough. Winter colours are so beautiful here. At the lake, kari’s cousin was already pulling in nets full of perch, whitefish, and pike. I remain in total disbelief at how his bare hands weren’t freezing from handling lines at -18C. at Kari’s translation, he chuckled: not yet. Later over our freshly caught dinner, I asked him if he grew up in this area. Yes, came the cheeky reply. Still growing. (Finland, 2018)

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