Hugs Not Drugs… Maybe a Few Drugs

In South America women greet women with a kiss on the right cheek. Men greet men with a firm hand shake or a quick embrace. Men greet women with a kiss on the cheek and maybe an embrace.

In Thailand people greet each other with a wai. [a prayer motion, hands to the heart, the nose or the fore head; depending on the level of respect that needs to be given.]

In my family we tend to give a quick hug or Hello while we try to figure out if a hug is appropriate. Or more likely than not we just say “Hi” and begin talking about what’s happening in our lives.

In Oregon, where I lived for a year, where I just visited for a week after being gone for a year and half, I embraced every person I greeted. I saw my old roommates, my roommates boyfriend, the peoples who’s couch I have crashed on numerous times, old running buddies, my old boss, my brother’s ex girlfriend, some dude I hooked up with years ago, some dude my roommates friend hooked up with years ago, former co-workers, actors and their girlfriends, the girl who’s dating the guy I dated once, that person who gave me acupuncture that one time… we all hugged. Every time I saw each person–whether it had been a year and half or I saw them at the coffee shop the morning before–we embraced, smiled and enjoyed each others body warmth.

I could write about the trails I hiked and ran on, the people I caught up with, the drama I’m glad to not be a part of in such a small town, the babies my friends have had, the engagement rings and the emotions I felt when I was able to spend time with people who are very important to me.

But I’m writing about hugs. When was the last time you got a really good embrace? Like, full body contact, arms wrapped around each other and you didn’t let go until you felt like you were ready to let go. Do it. Go give someone a hug, (maybe I’ll be lucky and I’ll see you right after you read this and I will get that hug!) But do it, find someone you care about and give a good hug. You know you’ll both enjoy it.

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Travel Hangover

I’m here. I now live in Greensburg, PA. I have a job, (looking for another,) I have an apartment, (well, privacy curtains in my friends living room) I have a gym membership, a couple bars I like, the lady at the coffee shop knows my name. I have a routine. I’m here.

But then I pulled out my small backpack. It fits my computer perfectly so when I head to the coffee shop I throw my weathered Macbook in there, grab my wallet and gear up to write, read, write letters–general coffee shop ‘things’. But last weekend I really looked at my back pack. I noticed how dirty it is. Months worth of sweating through SE Asia, being thrown on buses, running a 50k ultra marathon, transporting bottles of beer and water.

Then I noticed the random things I had tied on when the zipper toggle broke: a friendship bracelet from my native ‘tour’ guides in Sa Pa, Vietnam, safety pins, hair ties, whatever random things I could find that would work. Digging through the inside pockets I found a tin of Tiger Balm from Cat Ba Island when I got thrown off a motorbike, I found the equivalent of a few dollars in Malaysian Ringet. I found more dirt. I found Thai Baht. I found candy wrappers from treats my students gave me.

I found memories.

And then I remember: I’m here. I’m in Greensburg, PA furthering my career, saving money, making connections. And I wonder why I continue to look elsewhere. I run around the hilly neighborhoods and notice the architecture of such a historic town–then I remember the park I trained in with the 1000 year old Buddhist Wats. And I’m pulled back into the world of memory. I hate that world. I remember how hard it was to be in Thailand. I remember how much I wanted to ‘be’ somewhere for a while.

I found memories and now I need to begin making memories, here. And for some reason this is the hardest thing, for me. Travel is great but the travel hang over seems to last for months.

 

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A New Definition on Necessity

I’m having a hard time connecting. I remember in college going shopping and finding cute clothes that I wanted, trying them on, buying them, loving them for the shear idea that they were cute. A new purse, earrings, jeans…etc., all of these things didn’t mean anything to me besides the fact that they fit, they looked nice or they accessorized my life a bit more. I’ve lost that.

            Recently, I truly only buy most things out of necessity. Well, I mean, necessity used in a loosely translated way—I suppose I don’t absolutely need a new candle or book, but both of these things brighten my day and help me pass the time with out turning on the television, helps me learn, and makes my room smell delicious. So necessity is what I buy for.

            I’ve been on the hunt for a new purse lately. I have one great, leather purse that I bought in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I love it. I cherish it, it’s something that I will literally have forever. I met the man that sewed it together and hand picked the hardware that goes so perfectly with the construction. This bag has a story. When I go to the store, the mall, Target, I don’t feel anything when I see the bags there. I see them as cheap, wrinkly, pieces of fabric that won’t do anything for me. So I wander the earring section—looking for a new pair of dangly earrings that might give me that bit of rush because of that instant, quick purchase. All I end up seeing are pieces of plastic that realistically, make me kind of sad sitting there on the shelf.

            The earrings that I bought in Vietnam were hand made by a tribes woman’s father. I spent all day with this woman. They wear the same pairs that I bought from their hands. The bracelet I wear (and haven’t taken off since) was given to me by the same hilltribe woman in Sapa, Vietnam, same with my ring. These pieces of jewelry have soul, have memories. They have stories. Even my silly costume jewelry has a memory of wandering Kao San Road at midnight while I dodged tourist eating fried scorpions and I haggle with the shopkeepers in broken Thai.

 

I’m down to necessity and stories. But even, the word necessity is being stretched. I like having little. And the little that I have have stories that I love to tell.

 

 

 

Necessity: wanting or needing something that will make your life a bit easier, more comfortable, fun or exciting.

            Example: a new book, some lush lotion or a new sports bra in a fun color.

A lovely smelling candle while I read my book is a necessity.

 

 ImageBelow: Thai costume jewelry. Above: Vietnamese ring

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