I awoke to a sliver of sunlight singeing my upper thighs. The sounds of Montevideo lazily waking up poured through my open windows as I checked for itchy spots on my body – signs of surviving the night without any more mosquito bites. Realizing I went unscathed, I reconfigured my body to avoid the slice of mid morning sunlight.
Sure, I was trivially irritated from my clothes sticking on my body due to the lack of air conditioning and from having a single half-functioning toilet for an apartment of eight friends. However, I was more amused that I had woken in a situation far away from my Boston life, physically and especially, mentally.
The previous 16 months had been a hustle. Not your Forbes definition of hustle but rather my own mid-20’s definition of the word. I didn’t save lives nor set out as an entrepreneur. Instead, I relentlessly explored career opportunities and threw myself into business school activities in the hopes I’ll learn something from it all. I became a markedly different person – more urgent, less forgiving, and a whole lot more tired.
But something was different that morning in Uruguay. Everything slowed and I felt refreshed.
Having walked a couple blocks to a bookstore turned coffee shop, I was seated in a shaded courtyard enjoying a simple medialuna, a croissant brushed with sugar and baked so that the ham and cheese melted within the pastry. It was satisfying and I felt fully present ..
.. listening to the Spanish spoken around me .. how is my Spanish so poor despite eating in Mexican taquerias my entire childhood? ..
.. reading about the weakening fishing industry in Cambodia .. its been too long since I’ve felt my heart throb during a fishing strike and it’s a shame how little I exercise my fish conservation college minor knowledge ..
.. and observing the shoes on everyone’s feet .. How are New Balances so popular here? Am I really that vain? I’ve been checking out everyone’s kicks since 3rd grade ..
My mind wandered, connecting the past and present in a way that my scheduled and structured school life never allowed it to.
2017 is the first time I uttered the words “I need a vacation.’
Fortunate enough to be able to travel, I’ve always jetted with the intent of exploring a restaurant, seeing loved ones, or immersing myself in an unknown culture. Never has a trip meant to be relaxing – all inclusive resorts in the Maldives never sounded appealing and still don’t.
However, if a trip allows my mind to enter a reflective state, to connect the dots of my life, and to appreciate it all, then sign me up – I’m all about vacations too.
I’m about to embark on an adventure where I’m doubling down on my career. It’s a deliberate decision to give up some time for my hobbies in the hopes I find a fulfillment in a professional career. Maybe I find it. Maybe I don’t.
More importantly though, I hope to never forget the taco trucks ubiquitous in my home state California, the trout filled rivers of the Sierra Nevada, or my lifelong disdain for New Balance running shoes. Cause these shaped who I am and where I hope to go.
And if a plane ticket abroad is what’s required to weave all this back into my everyday, then you’ll find me thinking away in a foreign café, observing people’s shoes.
Dr. Pablo de María 1185
11200 Montevideo, Uruguay