Holiday Blogapaloza

I made that word up, but I bet someone else has used it before me. A year ago at this time I was leaving an incredibly beautiful town in Thailand called Pai, headed to Laung Prabong, Laos on a slow boat. Now I am leaving Atlanta, GA and headed back out to San Francisco for a while before eventually moving down to Costa Rica.


I just finished up with a much needed break from the life and times of CouchSurfing and reconnected with friends and family all along the eastern seaboard. The holidays were not quite the experience I had imagined them to be, due to my grandfather’s passing, but this served to pull family together in a way that would not have happened otherwise. I spent more time with my extended family that I have in years, changing that obligatory “How has your life been?” to a true “Good to see you again – lets get some lunch.”


Several trips back and forth to Athens for this purpose also allowed me to catch up with friends who still live there – and made me realize again why I enjoy that town. It feeds off the industry of Atlanta, but has the more bohemian atmosphere of a college town, with great music and a very fun downtown. I was born there, and will return many more times, even after family and friends no longer call me to it.


In Atlanta I was able to reunite with the several groups of amazing people I am lucky enough to call friends. They put up with me even though I only show up on their radar every six months or so, and we resume where we left off as if there has been no gap. I sometimes get envious as I watch their lives take on the new characteristics that come with permanent (or semi-permanent) residency and occupation and I find myself settling back in the feelings of security and convenience that exudes from their homes, lifestyles, and relationships. I could be pulled into this if I let myself.


The get together that I had planned with some old high school friends turned into a party with fewer friends and more strangers and acquaintances, culminating in a classic 1:30 am meal at Waffle House – and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. The next night found me at my five year high school reunion looking at photos from my first days at Wesleyan, drinking beers with the people who had suspended me for partaking six years before. It was enjoyable to investigate the current lives of past friends, but no long lost friendships were restored, nor was that my intention. That night ended in a gathering reminiscent of days long past with old memories and new stories.


Caught up with high school friends, I booked a flight north to Richmond, VA where I was to meet up with my college roommate and good friend Jason and drive to Baltimore for New Years. Jason has much of the wanderlust that I do, but he also has the dedication to earn money before he travels. This is the same guy who rode down the coast of California with me a few years ago. We spent a fun two days in Richmond, going out with college friends and fraternity brothers, shooting guns at the range and in the woods before heading out to Baltimore to meet up with Matt, another fraternity brother. He recently moved into a house in downtown Baltimore with a great rooftop porch and a view of the whole city.


Seven members of my pledge class descended upon his house for New Years and we successfully destroyed it. The house was packed with people, probably around 50, and at midnight the group popped around 25 bottles of Champagne – which started a Champagne spray battle of epic proportions. We had to leave the kitchen because of issues with humidity. Champagne was dripping from the ceiling and became the glue to stick thousands of pieces of cellophane confetti to the floor. The night ended (as New Years Eve has a tendency to do) in a blurred recounting of bars and people who think mixing tequila with Irish car-bombs is wise.


We spend New Years day cleaning and recovering before I flew back to Atlanta on the 2nd. On Saturday I drove back up to Athens and attended my grandfather’s memorial service, which was both a moving and positive experience. My grandfather made a difference in many people’s lives, and a lot of them showed up to show their gratitude.


So I head out to San Francisco tomorrow night, leaving behind family, old friends, and budding relationships that I am sad to leave open ended. The pull is back after a month removed from the coast, and the need for new experiences is doing what it always does – taking me from my comfort zone into new areas I have never thought of. Waiting for me is the most intriguing group of people I have ever lived with, work I am passionate about, climbing, biking, and (climate permitting) my new quest – surfing. Rumor has it that I will be heading to Costa Rica in the future, and that brings with it an entire book of new opportunities.