I started this blog on a whim in 2010 as a place to share; the things I liked, the things I found that I couldn’t stop telling my friends about…just little bits of my life, really. Over the past almost 10 years, I’ve learned new skills like taking pictures, how SEO works and the importance of buying genuine Niche Edit Links to stay above the other fellow blogs out there (sorry guys…) and naturally my blog has changed along with my abilities. As I’ve grown up and my interests have evolved and changed, so have my blog and the things I share here.
This blog has organically become a home for the most travel-related content I create in the hopes that my readers will find it both interesting and useful. My thoughts, feelings and the little snippets of my day-to-day life seemed neither interesting nor useful, so I stopped sharing them. And eventually, my own blog didn’t have a place for these parts of me.
But I’ve recently realised that I miss reading exactly this kind of personal content on the blogs I started following 10 years ago. And I miss sharing these pieces of myself with people who connect with them. I miss writing the little updates, as casually if for my friends, about nothing in particular.
So I’ve decided to make space for more of the kind of stuff I started with. This is the first of what will most likely be weekly Journal Entry posts, where I can just chat away and share small bits about my life and my current interests and the things I get up to that aren’t really ‘blog post worthy’ but that I still want to share. I’m really looking forward to getting back to the original format of blogging – to the stuff we were sharing when we didn’t know what we were doing.
Saturday marked 3 weeks back in Cape Town, after a full month of summer travels in Europe. This was the first time in my adult life that I had the time and the means to take a month off work, and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to make this dream trip a reality. I saved for a long time for this trip (which was of course painfully expensive on the Rand), working double contracts on freelance projects to be able to afford it.
My trip started off with a week in Lisbon, where I was visiting two of my best friends, who moved to the city from Cape Town about 10 months ago. Lisbon blew.me.away. I don’t know what I expected – but it certainly wasn’t a city filled with light, colourful mosaic tiles, patterned pavements, stunning views of blue waters and terracotta roof tiles, a vibrant yet laid-back energy, and a really cool food scene. I also hadn’t expected Lisbon to be as friendly or affordable as it turned out to be. All round, I loved it, and I would definitely recommend it to friends. 10/10 for Lisbon.
My next stop was Barcelona, where I spent a week exploring solo. It’s been a while since I travelled alone (the last time I did such a big solo trip was when I went to India in 2013) and I was looking forward to the opportunity to be completely selfish with my time. Travelling by yourself means you can do exactly what you want to do – whether that means skipping the “must-see” museums in favour of reading a book in a park, or eating at a Michelin Guide restaurant you wouldn’t want to pressure your fellow-travellers into splurging on. It’s just such a freeing experience.
Overall, I enjoyed visiting Barcelona, but I can’t honestly say it’s a city I would visit again. Before I left and even during my time there, I received dozens of messages from friends and followers who raved about the city, listing Barcelona as their favourite in the world. But from my experience, I found it mostly a) crowded b) cripplingly expensive and c) relatively un-special. I had booked a few different guided experiences and tours, ranging from a wine experience in the Penedès region to a bicycle and tapas tour in the city, and these were my highlights for sure. 5/10 for Barcelona.
It was during my time in Barcelona that I started to feel my old nemesis, the old black dog, pressing down its full weight on my mind and body. I have been dealing with depression since I was a teenager, and have been hospitalised twice to help me recover from extreme bouts. Thankfully after much trial and error, I finally found an anti-depressant that works for me about 9 years ago.
But, like most people who have been dealing with depression for most of their lives will tell you, sometimes you just run out of pills. And then you don’t have time to refill your prescription… and then a couple of weeks have gone by and you ‘still feel ok’ so you put it off… and then months have gone by and you’ve forgotten all about your prescription so it expires… and more months go by and now you don’t know why you are experiencing body aches, or memory loss or levels of exhaustion you didn’t know you could survive… and then one day, seemingly out of the blue, you are crying on a beach in Barcelona and you have the distinct and unshakable feeling that you will never, ever, ever experience true happiness and that life is quite literally is the worst punishment a human could be asked to endure.
I have my arsenal of coping mechanisms, which I keep in my back pocket for emergencies such as this one. Like a mantra, I tell myself: Get up, don’t sleep in. Open the curtains, wash your hair. Get outside, stay outside. Keep working, keep communicating, don’t withdraw, don’t stop. Also, and most importantly, get back on your medication.
I called my boyfriend from Barcelona and he got me a prescription for Wellbutrin from our GP and had it filled to bring to Italy, where we would soon be meeting up. I was still extremely sad of course, but I was relieved to know that I would, without a doubt, feel better soon. Which is not how I would have felt in this situation 10 years ago, before I found the right medication.
Anyway, Italy was up next, where I was to meet up with my family, boyfriend and a couple of friends. The trip was planned around my mom’s 60th birthday. She had been dreaming of celebrating her milestone birthday with an Italian houseboat holiday since we took a mother-daughter canal cruise with a friend of mine and her mom in France back in 2017.
I adore my family and I relish every opportunity I get to spend time with them (my sister and her husband live in Melbourne and my parents live in Johannesburg). But I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that family holidays can be like, extremely stressful. Family dynamics are just so specific, and I think that once you become an adult, they become even more complex.
Where as a child you would have been forced to ignore something your parents did to offend or irritate you or face the consequences, secretly rolling your eyes in defiance and sulkily locking yourself in your room to escape, you react differently as an adult. You stand your ground, you call them out, you ruin a perfectly calm afternoon. Note to self: You need to learn to relax.
But we keep doing these family holidays, because there really is nothing as good as being surrounded by your family. It’s just this safe space, this shared history, your sibling’s innate understanding of your humour, the way your mom can convey an entire sentence about your outfit with a quick glance. It’s like being wrapped in a warm, slightly itchy, but very cosy blanket. And even though they drive me nuts, my family is everything to me.
And that brings us here. Three weeks later, three weeks home. We’re already almost at the end of August. I’ve been taking my anti-depressants for a month and I can certainly feel the light on my face again, although inside I still feel heavy. I made it through the initial three weeks of harrowing anxiety that comes as an unfortunate side effect when I start taking my medication after a long break, so I can finally drink coffee again without feeling like my heart is going to fall into my belly.
Of course now that this whole episode is behind me, I am facing a new challenge and being put through a painful and complicated period in my personal life. It’s slammed the breaks on my life, forcing me off the road leading to where I thought my future lay, and forcing me out of every comfort zone I have.
It’s made me really evaluate and reevaluate my relationships, friendships, family bonds, sentimentalities and loyalties. It’s made me realise that I have this innate, unstoppable drive within me, that I find planning and having a solid view of the future are hugely comforting and that being in a state of flux is really challenging for me.
I’ve been trying to figure out how to get through this period in my life and what I could learn from this experience. And I think that some of the things I’m learning are patience, kindness toward myself as much as toward others and most importantly, self-control. I think, when I was younger, I found comfort in lashing out, because lashing out meant taking back control.
Lashing out meant I could grab the upper hand by any means necessary. It made me feel like things weren’t happening to me – I was happening to them. But now that I’m older, I’m trying to accept that it’s impossible to always be in control of what happens to me, and that sometimes all I can do is control myself and let the chaos around me wear itself out.
Thankfully, I came back from my trip to a 3-week freelance contract with a team I love, which helped me establish a routine in the middle of all of this. It forced me to wake up, get out of the house and get back into the swing of life while I was adjusting to my medication, waiting for the fog to lift. This particular contract has just come to an end, but I have a lot to keep me going, as I’m preparing to head to Mauritius in a couple of weeks to do my PADI dive certification.
So ANYWAY, that whole intro to these Journal Entries was quite personal, but I mean, what can you do? Now onto the more important things: Europhia and Taylor Swift’s new album. I have never seen a more brilliant show than HBO’s teen-drama, Euphoria. Everything from the lighting to the acting to the shock-value to the makeup – the show is breathtaking, and I couldn’t look away. Although it’s not a horror or even a thriller, personally I found it terrifying. But I also found it inspirational. The way gender blurs and queerness and modern romance and youth in the era of social media are depicted in an entirely natural way – it’s just, I’d like to see more of that.
I have been eagerly awaiting Taylor Swift’s new album Lover – dissecting every Instagram post, following every clue, watching every music video, counting palm trees, counting holes in the fence – for months. When she dropped the music video for the album’s first single, ME! at 6am South African time during a YouTube Live broadcast, I was watching on my cellphone, in the rain, on a safari vehicle. When she dropped the music video for the album’s next single, You Need To Calm Down, I must have watched it a hundred times looking for every easter egg she had hidden for us.
And now that she has finally, at long last, released the full Lover album, I am combing through every lyric, decoding its meaning, double-meaning, and possibly even a third meaning. As a fan, this album is so special to listen to, as it’s the first album she has ever owned outright, and it’s clear as daylight that she has taken ownership of it. On Lover, Taylor is finally a woman and she sings about makeup sex and bitches and sexism and America’s fading glory. She tackles inequality, internet bullying and shares the kind of lyrics that made us fall in love with her 13 years ago. This is an album that showcases not only her songwriting and voice, but her person. And I can honestly say that being a Taylor Swift fan is SO MUCH FUN.
Ok that’s it from me. I’ll be back next week with more web-logging (lol)