It’s been two months of Nepal stories on this blog now, and we haven’t even gotten through a week in the country. I guess you all don’t mind though, as I seem to have picked up a good-sized audience for this story. I appreciate it, I really do. It keeps me motivated to keep writing, and spilling my soul into this project.
So thank you all.
Recently, I celebrated my 24th birthday. I spent the day rock climbing in Boulder Canyon with some good friends. I woke up sober, spent my day exercising in a beautiful outdoor setting, and had a few good local beers afterwards — couldn’t have asked for much more. Looking out over the side of a cliff, my friend Dylan and I got to discussing travel. He had recently backed out of a trip we had been planning, leaving me to go it alone.
“Do you think you can handle traveling solo?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I said, defensively. “I traveled solo all through Nepal and I was fine.”
“Yeah, and from reading your shit it sounds like you were lonely and fucking depressed the whole time!” he said.
I had to laugh here, because he was right.
“It gets better once I get out of Kathmandu,” I told him. I gave him a slap on the back turned my attention back to the belay.
The conversation did get me thinking about everyone who is reading and leaving comments on the story though.
So many of these comments fall along the lines of “I’m so jealous of you!” or “What an adventure, I wish my life was more like yours,” etc. While I appreciate the sentiments, it’s interesting for me to see. Because the way I see it, this isn’t necessarily an enviable story. The story – so far – is about suffering a terrible emotional trauma, stumbling into a foreign country heartbroken and depressed, and struggling through every single day.
It’s not exactly a cheery narrative. I don’t think I’ve been pulling many punches in the telling, either.
It’s not a sanitized travel blog I’m telling here — and that was part of my motivation for writing this story, in this way. So much of the travel content you see on the Internet is so sanitized, it’s hard to believe the person even went to the place they’re claiming they did. There’s nothing more inauthentic than #LiveAuthentic.
“People still have problems in their daily lives dude,” my older sister reminded me, a few days later. It was 3 o’clock on a Tuesday, Denver suburbs, and we’d worked our way through a six-pack already. We both had the day off. We sat in a fenced-in backyard. It felt claustrophobic. We moved to the front stoop, where the oppressive sun beat down on the blacktop and reflected waves of unbearable heat up at us. We went back to the back. Two folding chairs and a small table sat in the middle of a dying lawn.
“People have bad days and breakups and at home, too. And a lot of us feel more stuck here.”
“True,” I acknowledged, looking around. “I guess mine just has better background scenery.”
“Exactly,” she said.
We wandered off and discussed the emotional through-line of the piece, then wandered off and caught some Pokemon in Pokemon GO.
“Having an adventure shows that someone is incompetent, that something has gone wrong. An adventure is interesting enough in retrospect, especially to the person who didn’t have it; at the time it happens it usually constitutes an exceedingly disagreeable experience.”
An apt sentiment, one that has stuck with me for many years, years in which I’ve had a number of “exceedingly disagreeable experiences.” Experiences which – whatever psychological or physical toll they take on me – I can always flippantly disregard with one little phrase: “It’ll make a good story.”
I didn’t name this story “In Praise of Character in the bleak inhuman Loneliness” because I like to sound pretentious— I chose that title because much of the time, being in Nepal was a bleak, inhuman, and exceedingly lonely experience. Although I don’t regret going, I wouldn’t really wish my trip on anyone.
Eight months after we started dating, Holly and I took a trip to New York. At Junior’s in Brooklyn, we sat at the bar and listened to the eccentric barman look at our IDs and tell us the days we were born: a Tuesday and a Saturday. He was special, like that. “Horrible lead paint poisoning,” he said. He had enough stories to fill the space between us for two hours, and many more, I have no doubt.
“But long ago I learned not to do things just for the story,” he told us.
Have I learned that lesson yet?
I don’t think so; not entirely, anyways.
I think I’ve got a few more stories to tell yet, a few more epics to rack up. But I think those of you that aren’t out there chasing adventure, doing things just for the story— you just might be ahead of me in this thing we call life.
Thanks for two months of reading!
Love to hear your thoughts on this subject in the comments.