Today marks Day 45 of a 52-day European adventure. It’s been mostly great. I love the walkability of European cities. I love that most places aren’t overly air-conditioned. I love having a minuscule wardrobe. And here in my Budapest neighborhood, I love how even the most mundane apartment or convenience store is housed in something old and ornately detailed. I love how you can walk down the street openly drinking a really inexpensive beer, but there’s a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving. I love that my adorable Airbnb is two minutes from Parliament and the Danube, yet completely protected from street noise by a courtyard. Most importantly, I love where I am mentally, writing with focus, seeing my book’s end draw near just ahead of my July 31st deadline.
But there are so many things I’m looking forward to getting back to. Small things. Silly things. In no particular order:
- conversations. About anything. I spoke briefly to someone today on my English-speaking tour of Parliament, and my voice sounded straight-up weird. Since being on my own this past week, I’m not sure I’ve had a single conversation. Speaking is rare and comes in bursts of six syllables or fewer, “Americano, please?” “Do you have a bathroom?” and my favorite travel phrase, “Oops, sorry. Excuse me.” Let’s frame this as an intense period of vocal rest. Good for the cords.
- the quiet comforts of home and the pieces of my morning routines: a fuzzy robe, coffee brewing, a stretch, a run, a Shakeology smoothie with ice and berries (not the sad clumpy version I’ve been making abroad).
- humidity aside, Charlottesville’s running community and my well-worn running routes.
- abundant produce. A good honeycrisp apple. Butternut squash and kale. And even baby carrots, which seldom excite me, which often go bad before I can eat them all.
- The Sunday New York Times and the crossword, which I pretend to be good at but I really just sit there while Joe does it. I occasionally answer questions about Broadway musicals.
- the quiet of UVA’s Corner and the Lawn in summer.
- driving over Afton Mountain on a clear day.
- paddleboarding at Beaver Creek
- my favorite wineries: Pippin Hill, King Family, Veritas, Jefferson…
- and my favorite Charlottesville eats: Dr. Ho’s, Lampo, MarieBette, Bodos…
- even Trader Joe’s. Crazy, crowded Trader Joe’s. Fine, and Target.
And then there are, inevitably, those things I miss and realize I don’t take nearly enough advantage of:
- the Downtown Mall coffeeshops, just three blocks away.
- ACAC’s many offerings, especially that weekly yin yoga class, which I went to for an unprecedented three weeks in a row before leaving on this trip.
- hiking in the Blue Ridge.
- farmers markets.
- the opportunity to cook in my own (tiny) kitchen.
And don’t get me started on all the friends and acquaintances I see far too infrequently.
The question that follows is, “Ok, so what are you going to do about it?” Can I start walking more? Actually get myself to the gym, the market, and out to the Blue Ridge? When will the window of motivation close and old habits take over?
Of all the benefits of travel, renewed appreciation for the small joys of home might just top my list.