Reflections / Travel / Turkey

If At First You Don’t Succeed…

Goodness. It’s been a long, long time. A lot’s happened since I last posted here, but I think it’s time to get this little blog rolling again. In case you haven’t heard, I’m getting ready to embark on a new adventure, and, like last time, I want to keep you all included in as much of it as possible. In honor of my return to the blogosphere, I’m going to be doing some revamping to spruce things up and get things organized (same great content, fresh new look!), plus think of something else to write in this obligatory introduction to my latest journey without over-explaining and attempting to rationalize my every decision.

Revisiting this blog after so much time has been kind of refreshing and strange all at once. I’ve glossed over it a few times since coming home over a year ago, but knowing that I’m leaving again soon makes me feel a sort of nostalgia for my past experiences. Or maybe I just want to spy on my former self, to observe her from behind the eyes of a different mind, and to perhaps learn something from her, too. I think that rereading what I write is as close as I can get to meeting past versions of myself. That alone makes this blogging thing worthwhile and rewarding, especially since I’ve never really been one to keep journals. It’s interesting to see what I said and know what I meant, and to pat myself on the back or hit myself over the head when I consider certain choices I made and the ways in which I navigated and approached the world.

Reading through my posts from Cambodia, I realize that my writings were as much an outlet for my frustration as they were a way to keep people back home informed of all I was experiencing. My posts are few and long, and in nearly each one there’s a certain bitterness that, whether explicitly or implicitly, seems to permeate everything. I’ll admit these posts are an accurate reflection of what I felt during most of those six months, even, arguably, a visual representation: long periods of silent coasting followed by a surge of emotional, long-winded vomit. Little nothings that became, eventually, too much to contain. I’ve been home for over a year now, and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect and consider more objectively what exactly made Cambodia such a bad fit for me, and I could likely write many a clever, pleasant page on the subject. I trust, however, that you’ll find the proof in the previously-written pudding. Cambodia was not for me. The difference between then and now is that I’m okay with that. Plus, I’ve grown up a little.

In four days I fly to Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey, famous for spanning the very edges of both Europe and Asia. I find myself in very much the same position as I was when I left for Phnom Penh a year and a half ago: departing alone and mostly unfamiliar with the place and many aspects of its culture. Many people, when I tell them of my plans, are justified in wondering why I’ve chosen to do this again.

“But you hated Cambodia,” they say.

And this is where I have to be careful with my over-explaining. Generally I’ll nod in agreement. I’ll consider using the adage about getting back on the horse, or rattling off a metaphor in which something goes sour on your first try and but that doesn’t mean you swear it off forever (dating and jobs come to mind). But usually I’ll just keep it simple.

“I know,” I say. “That’s why I’m going somewhere else.”

***

As I get a little older I’ve been learning a couple things.

The one lesson that keeps making recurring cycles through my life is that people talk about a “gut feeling” for a pretty good reason, which is usually that if you sense something is going to be a bad fit and make you unhappy, it’s probably going to be a bad fit and make you unhappy. Some might say that approaching an experience (or person, or place) negatively makes your gut feeling a self-fulfilling prophecy (you know, the-kind-of-energy-you-send-out-is-what-gets-sent-back-to-you sort of thing), but in my experience, if your stomach and your heart are telling you one thing, it’s hard to make your mind believe something else. Life in general should be approached positively, I think, but I also think certain things are just not meant to be, and that abandoning ship isn’t necessarily giving up. I’ve been able to sense that for a long time – what I’m working on is actually responding to it.

My gut feeling after a few weeks in Cambodia was that I wouldn’t like it. I pretended otherwise for a long time, and I left scathed and discouraged, but also, I think, a little enlightened. When people ask me why I want to move to Turkey after such a bad experience in Cambodia, it’s because I’ve wanted to make travel a part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I owe it to myself and the world to try again. I can’t allow one city to dictate what my experience will be anywhere else. My gut tells me that settling somewhere with an IKEA-furnished apartment and a career track is not what I want. Not right now. What I want right now is to write and take pictures while I build my portfolio and see the world. Apart from that, I can’t say I have much figured out in terms of where I’ll work or where I’ll live or how long I’ll stay. I think not having a plan and just riding the wind for a while will be good for me.

As before, I plan to use this blog to keep those interested apprised of all that happens on my journeys. My goal this time around is to post content that is both shorter and more frequent, so it might be easier to keep up with, and to make my photography a larger staple. I also hope to be able to tell more stories and maybe even create some practical resources, so there will be a good variety of informative and entertaining prose, with standard blog posts, some creative nonfiction, and even some guides and advice pieces. My About page will be maintained with updated contact information, and you know I would love to hear from you.

In the meantime, I’ll probably be spending the next few days stuffing my face with cheeseburgers and milkshakes, since I won’t experience their American-caliber deliciousness for quite some time. I might be back with another post before I leave, but, if not, the next time you hear from me will be from Istanbul!

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