Estonia doesn’t get enough credit as a coffee country. That statement doesn’t just refer to the coffee itself, but the cafes that serve it and the myriad of settings in which to enjoy it. Cobblestone courtyards, medieval era cellars, or scenic views along a beach highway. Even the “standard” types of coffeehouses that one may be accustomed to in the states are all a step above what I would consider a nice place to enjoy a cup of coffee. Most of these cafes are in renovated Soviet era warehouses, which creates a blend of rustic architecture with modern comforts. A huge difference in atmosphere with not only coffee shops but Estonian city life in general, is the lack of a town square (“Rakeoja Plats) in US cities and towns. These centralized areas are usually centuries old and provide a good location to shop, eat, and of course, drink coffee. My favorite shop is actually located in the cellar of a building that is hundreds of years old within the Estonian capital city. I got a job lined up there about a month ago thanks to a little luck and some old Starbucks experience (a manager just happened to be an old S Bux shift in Minneapolis). I was never a big cappuccino fan until this past arrival in Europe, but when its made consistently well like it is in Estonia, its actually become a new favorite. Hopefully the jackasses back in FL can replicate the feat but I won’t hold my breath.
Archives for August 2013
The hardest thing for me to come to grips with when someone passes away, is that I won’t ever be able to speak to them again. There wont be any more catching up, asking how things have been in between, or having a laugh over a funny story. I’ve been blessed that I haven’t had to see too many people leave my life unexpectedly, but as I get older its just something that you begin to understand and accept. You don’t want to accept it. But you are nonetheless forced to. I woke up a few mornings ago after having a pretty convincing dream that this was all a mistake and that he was still alive. Once reality set in it made me wonder how many other people were out there having this exact same conversation with themselves. A ton, I am quite sure, because this was one of the good people out there. The guy that no matter what day or what setting you caught up with him in, he had a smile on his face and something to say that would put one on yours. Why him, why now. We live in a sea full of much better candidates that would leave this planet a better place without them still on it. That might sound fucked up or twisted but if you want to be realistic about life, I don’t see how you look at that fact any other way. Or maybe you just have been lucky enough to not have come into contact with that many awful people. Don’t kid yourself – they are out there. My thoughts have turned back to those left behind in the wake this sad event, and it must be an unimaginable emptiness filling those that were closest to him. Wife. Daughter. My heart goes out to them the most. I can’t even imagine what it must be like right now. It puts things into perspective, and really makes anything that I thought I was going through seem nowhere near what must be the most painful experience for a family to have to go through. People complain about so much shit in their lives, and its like a baton getting passed higher and higher up the rungs of a ladder built on tragedy. Each person thinks they’ve got troubles until you see another situation that makes you wonder why it is you thought you’d hit rock bottom. Don’t take things in your life for granted, especially those people that you care about and that care about you.
Everyone has their own version of paradise. Whether that is on a beach, their own front porch, or somewhere in between, there is always a place we think fondly of when we go up against the grind. Sometimes you don’t even know how much a place will mean to you until you gather yourself up and just go there. You will surprise yourself how many places off the beaten path will far exceed your expectations. I like well rounded places and experiences where I can not only enjoy myself, but where I can grow as a person while I am lucky enough to be there. The place that gives you peace of mind can also end up nourishing and growing a piece of your mind. An entire new language. A history that will educate you, humble you, and leave you envious.
Rahulik – Estonian for “calm”
Its a sign of health when you can laugh and be carefree. In my opinion that is the tell tale sign of everything is all right in your life. This hit me during the past week. I knew something was kind of different on an every day basis, and last night at dinner I realized this was it. We were laughing. That meant we were smiling. We needed a few more laughs in life. It all comes back to where we are headed after a right time.
Sometimes all we need is a breath of fresh air. Change of scenery. Not necessarily a complete change to a permanent makeover, just get out of dodge for a bit and immerse yourself in something different. Different things to look at. Different people to talk to. A different sunset to appreciate. Appreciating these types of refreshing elements can help us appreciate things about ourselves, our jobs, or our surroundings back home in ways we didn’t realize before. People mistake my traveling for running away from things, but that isn’t really the case. I enjoy where I live and what I do, and with my marriage back on track, its a great place to hang my hat and come back to at the end of the day. After the exhausting Summer that Samm and I have had, its been great to be able to sit back and relax with two of our closest friends. A nice blend of the usual travel enjoyments like strolling down Medieval era streets, but while chatting with an old friend. I really feel like this is what we needed as a couple and as individuals, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Samm had just gone through the blitzkrieg of school requirements getting ready for the semester, and lets just say life in general was piling up for myself. I remarked to her a few nights ago that this was the absolute calmest I had felt in months. Staring at a red sky as the sun set behind the spires of buildings hundreds of years old with my best friend was definitely the refreshment my soul was craving.
Sometimes the walls we put up to keep things out actually end up holding us back. “I can’t do this”. “I’m not good enough”. “I’m wasting my time”. When it boils down to it, its amazing just how much we get in the way of ourselves, which is absurd given how much the world throws at us on its own. I understand that some of us inherit a situation far graver than others, be it finances or a good set of parents, but when oneself is down on your own being, its hard to have a fighting chance in my opinion. Some of the most limitless people are held back by this very thing. I guess negative surroundings and negative situations can enhance these feelings of gloom though, I can attest to that after the last few months. There were plenty of times where I would catch myself saying “oh man you blew it, you really had no chance to do this”. They were definitely walls that I put up in my own mind after countless days of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Looking back, it was a really shitty learning experience that sometimes we can blockade our selves mentally. We just have to be strong enough and have enough resolve to outlast the bad and see that these barriers come crumbling down in the face of who we really are as people.
I feel like a lot of what has molded me into who I am today stems from traveling. Not only traveling, but the way I tend to go about it. Off the beaten path, walking to the beat of your own drum is the way to see the world. Not just anywhere exotic but just life in general. Even before I ever step foot in another country, I was headed in that direction and I guess that would be the most important thing that I got “right” at a young age. A lot of it began with music. I was always bouncing around the South going to this and that concert, so I got used to going new places on my own and I rarely spent the night in a hotel or anywhere nice. I can’t tell you how many fences I’ve jumped or parking lots I’ve slept in. I even spent the night on top of a concrete bathroom in the Los Angeles Coliseum when I snuck in the night before a Metallica concert. The second I left the States for the first time, all of this became amplified. I love hearing new languages, I love seeing history existing in modern settings, and I love seeing things from a non-tourist point of view. In the middle of the night or the crack of dawn are some of my favorite times of the day to head out and see a new city. As long as the place is new to my eyes, I feel like I have accomplished something. Small ghost towns in Florida along Highway 90 or villages in Europe, sounds good to me.
My wife and I share these same feelings, and I really think its something both people have to share an interest in for it to exist in a relationship. I’ll bring up this or that destination, she’ll crack a smile at me and say “hell yeah, let’s do it”. As life progresses and we take on more responsibilities, I’m sure travel opportunities may dwindle. And that’s ok. I am totally enjoying our progression as a couple and am looking forward to building our life together. When the times come, I will be ready. I’ve done a lot and seen a lot, and I will always posses a bit of wanderlust in me. Hopefully our children inherit that.
I’d rather not live here anymore. Too many life sucking vampires that don’t care about anything but themselves, their illicit profits, and their seemingly undying need to bring people down so that they can feel better about their shitty life. That, coupled with the Summer of absolute hell just makes me feel so tired. I’m beat. Worn down. Stressed to the point that I feel chemically hurting inside of my body. Perhaps a change of scenery and a few days alone can recharge my life. Then I can dive into something new and go forward. There a some very big changes on my horizon. Especially one that we will need each other for in ways that we never imagined. But they can only be positive as long as my wife and I hold fast to the idea that no matter what, as long as we are together, we can overcome everything and anything.
I grant you this torn land,
I’d rather not live here anymore.
Don’t say I didn’t try,
But I’d rather not live here anymore.
We were sitting in the coffee shop in Oxford when it hit me. Samm and I had just driven the exact same route, and now were in the exact same cafe that I had gone to on my way up North. It was a bizarre feeling, like I had just re-written history. A do over. I guess it was also ironic going on a trip mimicking the same journey I had done seeking enlightenment into a problematic life going through a marriage crisis, with the other half of said marriage. The fact that I felt we had bonded a bit on this trip made it seem even more important. There have been several seemingly off the beaten path types of places that I have run across in my travels, and sometimes I even remark that I probably won’t be coming back through these places again. Funny enough, I have ended up going back to these exact spots and it always makes me feel strangely reflective about myself. Like how is this time different, what is different about me, and are things better in my life than the last time that I was here. This was one of those times. The thing that I carry with me as a married man is that whenever I go anywhere without her, I always find myself wishing I was seeing these things with her. So to have a do over on this first leg of my Northern voyage, was a satisfying experience.
Samm and I drove up to Memphis for her Uncle Tommy’s funeral. I never met Tommy, but he was a very important figure in Samm’s family life. She was obviously heart broken when I told her the news. Later in the day she had written me a really heartfelt message telling me how sorry she was for the way things had gone this Summer, and I can’t really begin to paraphrase it all. I guess I would just say it had a lot of things in it that I just needed to hear. That’s all. We got up to Memphis at 3 AM and had to be down in the hotel lobby at 8. She hadn’t seen or spoken to her mother since she had came to visit us and things went haywire. This was a good chance for everyone to not only heal, but to spend some quality time together. It reminded me of something that I heard recently: sometimes through tragedy, we manage to come together and be closer. After spending an entire night of driving with uniterupted time with my wife, and then meeting the other half of her family that obviously loved and cherished this man that we had all gathered to honor, and seeing them so glad to see Samantha, I can whole heartedly agree with that statement. Through a death, we managed to grow closer. All of us. It is what he would have wanted.