Posts tagged Personal

The First Bite of Winter Depression Blues

What is this feeling I get in winter, and why am I feeling it? Some call it the winter blues – this seasonal depression that descends upon everyone when the cold grips us by the neck to steal our warmth and make our bones ache.

I don’t think that’s quite it.

At least for myself.

I know that it’s not just winter that brings me down… I have a feeling that it has to do with where I am right now. I don’t get these winter blues everywhere. Just when I’m home. Or in Washington D.C. which was once-upon-a-time home. I know now it can no longer be called home.

  • A photo close-up of frozen pine tree branches. Photo taken with Canon Rebel 650D T4i, edited in Lightroom using VSCO Film Pack 06.
  • Photo holding a frozen pine cone on a cold winter day with fingerless gloves.

It snowed for the first time this season recently, blanketing every visible surface in white. I stared out the window as it floated to the ground, watching my breathe cling to the window, and then disappear, as if winter outside tried to steal it from me. This was the first time I had been close to snow in over 2 years and it was beautiful. So pure. So fresh. So new. And so finite. There is no doubt that winter in the essence of the season can be something to admire. Even to love. You begin to appreciate warmth. You grasp a hot drink or another person as if you won’t survive without it. Relaxation and coziness become a priority. You shiver and dream of spring as if it’ll never come.

There’s also the never-ending longing for something that I feel here. On cold and lonely days when you don’t have someone to help warm up the doldrums of winter or enough of something in your life to brighten your day in that monochrome world — that longing feels like I’m gripping ice until it burns.

It hurts. It’s a nostalgic cold, one that no matter what I seem to, can’t be thawed. A numbness. A void. I stare out the window at the captivating cycle of change and life and death before my eyes wanting to feel something. Aching to feeling something. Trying to trick myself into it. But I feel nothing. It’s as if I stare out the window trapping myself in this place and I want to leave, yet at the same time I keep myself locked in because I don’t have enough in me to leave. I’m lonely yet I don’t want to see anyone.

I look outward and my reflection stares back at my inward. I’ve been here before, eyes locked at my reflection and wondering what’s wrong. I wait for it to tell me, but I never get an answer. Why am I so cold? Why can’t I feel warmth right now? My whole being from bones to soul aches.

Before my recent return to the US, I was optimistic about opportunities in my homeland. I hadn’t truly experienced winter in years and looked forward to it. When I was in Scotland just months ago, I remember seeing snow on the peaks of Glen Nevis and wished I could touch it. And even seeing it now, I want to be outside in it and feel the bite as it melts on my skin. Yet, at the same time, I can’t gather the energy to.

In my mind, my return would provide me the much needed rest physically and mentally after 2 years of travel. A span of time filled with, to be honest, absolutely cray adventures, but not much time for productivity. Here, I’d have a space to set my belongings down and not have to move every couple of days. Being productive and creative would be top priority.

Instead, each day I stare outward and inward into the void and do nothing. Just stare. Trapped. Not in the house, not in a physical space, but trapped by the nostalgia this place brings. Trapped in the depression I thought I destroyed. Except, we can never destroy it, can we?

Good ole’ Jack can sum it up perfect sometimes. The longing for the road. It calls to me, and as much as I’d like to trick myself into thinking I can slow down for a while, there’s something inside of my that laughs at the thought. Something restless.

On this first snow, I did leave the house eventually. Not far, just into the backyard of my friends house where I’m crashing. I had to touch it. I had to feel it. Everything in sight was ice-covered and frozen in time. Still and quiet and empty. The only noise was a slight breeze that whistled faintly through the crooked branches clawing at the sky. I stood for a while, listening to the wasteland and knew just how much it mimicked my own feelings. I was frozen in place waiting to thaw. I bent over and picked up a pine cone that pricked me. I laughed to myself. It felt good to feel something.

It’s strange how a chaotic pile of rotting, frozen, and splintered wood can relate to you. Some days here I’m devoid of emotion, and other days I can’t pick through the random heap of them all thrown together. For someone who never tries to live too far ahead of himself and the in the moment, I can’t help look into the future longing for the feeling of happiness that I have when I’m on the move. To escape the fragments of nostalgia that linger here, winter or not.

I have yet to visit my parents graves, and I didn’t before my last trip either. Am I still afraid of that reality? Closer to detached. I’ve come to terms with their deaths but I didn’t expect to feel this way again when I returned. I know what my old “home” does to me. When I’m here, I feel stuck and stagnant. I can’t seem to gather my thoughts. I sit around and stare into nothingness. I swipe through dating sites just for the distraction but no real yearning for connection. I watch television without even watching. I think about drinking more than I ever do when I travel.

Was I lying to myself to think that I could come back and slow down? Was telling myself and others that I could supplement it with exploring the USA?

I don’t think so. But I know now that home is not, and will never be this place again. The only warmth and light I feel now when I’m in Maryland is when I’m with my friends and family. Spending the holidays with them has been one of the only times in the past month that I felt. And felt happy. It’s my crutch here. They have been keeping me up emotionally since arrival in November. But it’s not a constant. Home is somewhere outside of this place that I can’t help but feel trapped in. For now, home will live in them and when I see them.

Sometimes I can feel the warmth here and see the lighter side of things. It’s fleeting, like a snowflake landing on my open palm that disappears in moments. I’m in a job I really like. I’m happy to see people I haven’t seen in years. Not so bad huh? It’s not the situation that does this to me. and most of the day I don’t know why I’m up or down. It’s torturous. And difficult to hide most days. But I do, I hide the blue.

Somewhere out there I can call a place home even for a little while and feel just as alive as I do when traveling. For now, I stare out the window beyond this nostalgic prison. Beyond the depression that takes hold of me here.

I’m still waiting for the thaw.

Working Holiday in Australia – My Final Thoughts

Australia Hiking in Wilsons Promontory PosterG’day mate! Or however you’d say that to a lady is Aussie slang. I’ve now been in Australia since June 2015 on a working holiday which makes it around 8 months since I arrived, and though I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs, it’s a pretty rad country. After my arrival, I went straight into work mode spending my days job hunting on foot or online. The last thing I wanted to do after embarking on another trip is to jump back into the “normal” grind, having only spent a depressingly short 4 months away from it.My normal cycle is travel from 6-9 months, return to the United States to work and save, and head out on another big trip. This time it was more short lived than previous years, and after spending a higher amount on the Rickshaw Run, I was left with an empty wallet. So, I followed some signs given by the universe and flew down unda’ to replenish the coffers.

 

This was the big fault in my trip to Australia.

I came here with the sole purpose to make money, and only days after arrival I let the urge to make fast money consume me. I need the money to keep traveling, but at the same time, I’m still in a different country. That’s not quite how I’ve treated it for the past 8 months, and as I close in to my next big adventure, I’m realizing just how little I’ve seen of Australia. I will be most likely departing Australia in May only to have seen Melbourne and parts of the state of Victoria.

To be blunt, I haven’t had much of a desire to see many other Australian cities. I’ve written about how countries like Australia and the even my home country the United States are beautiful, but I’m in love with ancient cities of countries such as Italy and Hungary. Modern cities shimmering with skyscrapers and bustling with business suits just don’t connect with my soul. That’s why the places I’ve seen in Australia that I’ve truly loved were the ones away from the city and in the wild. Places like the Grampians National Park and Wilsons Promontory fed my wild spirit. Driving the Great Ocean Road made me hungry again for the unfolding horizons. I really have no interest in visiting Sydney besides just the reason of saying I did. I can’t come to Australia and not go there, right?
Wilsons Promontory Sitting Victoria Australia

Otherwise, there hasn’t been much that has called to me here. I find myself waiting tables and overly stressed and tiring of the city and the commute. I’ve been becoming more and more short fused, allowing myself to hold on to negative things from that day of work when I’m used to breathing frustrations away and never thinking about them again. That is with out a doubt connected to me doing a job I despise for money, waiting tables that is, but it’s also because I can’t help but dream of returning to Europe which is a part of my travel plans for 2016.

I feel I grow more disconnected the longer I stay, where I’d rather hole up in my room than have a chat with a stranger or a beer with a friend. Sometimes I lay in bed and think, “am I living?” but when I’m hiking in the mountains here I know, “this is living”. I should just go off and travel around Australia’s amazing national parks then, right? This has been an idea tickling my brain ever since I arrived, and as much as I try to live without the “what if woes”, a trip like that would put me back to square one with savings and I wouldn’t be able to travel much around Europe.

Standing on a rock in Mornington Peninsula south of Melbourne Australia.

After only being able to spend 2 months around Europe in 2014, I dream everyday of exploring it more. And Australia is so damn expensive. It pays well to work here, but a day out in the city dining and having a couple of drinks can cost you $100 or more. A rental car to explore for a couple of days paired with petrol is about $300. Buying a van to tour around the country with can run $2,000-$4,000 not including petrol, and though costs can be split between friends, it’s still a budget breaker and most need to work again after a big road trip here.

That’s the kicker. Most people I’ve met in Melbourne have told me about their crazy road trips around Australia, but most have either done one and gone to do farm work to save more after running out of money, or have road tripped after doing farm work or another job and after must get a job again. But all of those people, from the UK to Canada to Europe, have a second year visa to pad that timeframe with. Americans on the other hand have strictly 1 year with no extension, and coming here with no money and trying to do a road trip or travel extensively is unrealistic unless I was planning on returning right back to the US after to work.

That is something I don’t want to do.

Working in Melbourne and waiting tables has taken a big toll this time around, and it’s got to be the last time I ever do this again. So does that mean my trip to Australia has been a sack of kangaroo poo? No. Australia has had its rad moments, like those mentioned where I saw the jaw-dropping and diverse natural beauty that has me drooling over Mother Nature, or in the amazing people I have met here that have become close friends. Those are the things that have made working in a city in a job that doesn’t cater to my creativity bearable, and this trip worthwhile. And who knows, maybe some of the experiences I’ve had here led me to an upcoming amazing opportunity that I’ll be announcing soon. An opportunity which will hopefully pave the way for my escape from the world of waiting tables and waiting for the next adventure.

Wilsons Promontory Whiskey Bay Victoria Australia
The beautiful Whiskey Bay. I love whiskey…

Australia, or Melbourne in my experience, is a great place to live and work in that is funky and creative and artistic. It is a place one can live in and pursue creative endeavors and make a good enough living. Problem for me is that Melbourne is a great place to settle down and do these things, to have a base here where one might swap time between bartending and painting ongoing out with friends, but I’m not ready to settle.

Here, it’s hard to do all of these things and save up for traveling abroad. Most people I meet that are the creative types have lived here for years and are pursuing their passions. They love it. I just don’t love Melbourne enough to think I’d rather spend my money on nights out and short road trips instead of 6 months around Europe. In Australia you pretty much have to choose to become a bit of a hermit and put your savings away, or be social and explore and break even. And that’s how it in in the United States for myself, so maybe that’s why I have such a disconnect.

So, as my time here approaches the end I have come to terms with the fact that I won’t be seeing much of Australia, and I’m okay with that. I don’t feel like it was a mistake coming here, and in ways has helped me grow. In these last couple of months, I will be focusing on taking some smaller 2 day trips on days off like one to Sydney just for the hell-of-it and hopefully to Tasmania. But that big road trip I’d truly love to do across the country will have to come at a later date where I save solely for that. Maybe in a year or two I’ll return and spend a few months exploring Australia. It’s just not going to happen this time around.

Australia Articles

Before I leave Australia, I will make it a point to get the most out of Melbourne and Victoria as well, so I will be using this page to post articles related to Australia here. Below you’ll find some of the adventures that I’ve already had, but make sure to subscribe to my newsletter I’ll be starting again to know when more go live!
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Camping in the Grampians National Park
3 Days exploring the sandstone peaks, stunning valleys, and diverse landscape of this National Park. Some of the best camping I’ve experienced.
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Encounters with Deadly Animals Australia

Australia is often the butt of the “everything can kill you” joke, but it’s semi-true. As I was on a beach, I encountered one of the world’s deadliest creatures.[button shape=”square” size=”mini” float=”left” href=”https://www.lostboymemoirs.com/face-face-one-worlds-deadliest-animals-australia/” title=”Read More” info=”none” info_place=”none” info_trigger=”none”]Read More[/button][/column]

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Exploring Melbourne Street Art by Night

Melbourne is a city famous for its street art and graffiti scene, but everything transforms at night from the artwork to personalities. Come see for yourself![button shape=”square” size=”mini” float=”left” href=”https://www.lostboymemoirs.com/face-face-one-worlds-deadliest-animals-australia/” title=”Read More” info=”none” info_place=”none” info_trigger=”none”]Read More[/button][/column]

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What are your Thoughts?

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