Two years ago, I packed all of my belongings and completely uprooted my life. In a few short weeks, I went from working as a writer for a Capitol Hill newspaper in Washington, D.C., a position that fit perfectly along the carefully planned trajectory I had laid out for my life ten years earlier, to teaching English to kindergartners in Seoul, South Korea. A year later, I shifted gears once again. This time Beijing stood imminent on the horizon, and the freewheeling lifestyle of a freelance journalist and editor lay thrillingly before me.
Now, as I approach my 365-day mark in Beijing, I'm about to do it again.
But this time, I'm not shuffling into a new apartment or relocating to another city I'll temporarily call home, at least not yet. This time I am fulfilling a lifelong dream of backpacking through Southeast Asia, taking with me only what I can carry, and living a nomadic lifestyle of which I've secretly dreamed since I was a young child.
This is the first post on a blog will be a personal one, though I'll combine elements of travel writing as well. It's about exploration and growth; introspection and forging a greater connection with the world around me.
The name, Spinning Free, is inspired by the song "Sweetness" by the band Jimmy Eat World. I chose to name my site after it because the lyrics burst to the forefront of my consciousness the night I decided to make this trip more than a simple vacation, and began seeing it as the turning point for the next chapter of my life.
Since hearing the song as a high school student many years ago, these two lines have felt particularly poignant to me, more so in recent years:
"String from your tether unwinds...
Sinking into sweet uncertainty"
Sinking into sweet uncertainty. I had always reveled in the idea of allowing myself to spin utterly free, to embrace the unknown with wide, welcoming arms. Even when I left the U.S. for Korea, and Korea for China, I had a plan, a strategy. I had never allowed myself to simply go in without a plan and take what came in stride. Until now.
I'll delve into all of this in future posts, but for the moment, I simply want to debut this blog to the world, and celebrate the beginning of what I believe will be a beautiful, fruitful and thrilling journey in my life.
As I write this, I am on a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I have spent the past hour gazing at a sunset more spectacular and rich in its warm fiery gold and piercing pink hues than I can convey. And now, as I watch the horizon fade to black, I see the first star in the night sky and imagine that this beauty is nothing compared to what lies before me in the jungles of Borneo, on the beaches of Thailand, in the myriad wonders I will see during the next several weeks as I travel through Southast Asia.
The past two years, with all their upheaval and learning and friendship and joyfulness, have been beautiful, and I will likely reference moments from them frequently on this site.
But this change feels different. I am different. I have reached a new moment of clarity, openness, wonder and a sense of self I had not known before.
I will explore new places, taste new foods, meet new people. I will learn, about my travel companions, who are three of my closest friends, and hopefully more about the world.