One might think that the best part of traveling around the world with a program like Remote Year would be all of the amazing places I have seen, the delicious food I have gotten to try, the mingling of cultures, or “doing it for the ‘gram” in a legitimate way – however; not the case. It is the doing of all of those things with the friends and now family I have made.** This post is dedicated to two specific individuals who I now consider my sisters.
You may be thinking that having these amazing women in my life would help to diminish my anxiety gremlin, but when you start to realize that in three months they will no longer be with me physically every day, the panic starts to settle in. Neither will be able to jump at the chance to join me on long sweaty walks to the museum, freezing cold walking tours through Berlin in November, on boat trips to deserted islands, to cater to my pizza addiction in SE Asia, to comfort me on a self-reflective tour through Auschwitz, or to give celebratory hugs when the country you are currently in makes a much-needed goal during a World Cup game. Shannon and Jeanna have been right there with me, literally right next to me holding my hand or with our sweaty thighs stuck to each other’s, for this entire journey. We have discussed every angle of our lives – the good, the bad, the hilarious, and of course, the inebriated. Both women have taught me strength that I did not know I had inside of me. Both have shown me kindness on levels I was unaware existed and both have made me laugh until I was crying and beginning to worry that I would never be able to breathe again.
Jeanna, my little Aussie-koala-mother hen has taught me not only that Australian is its own language but also that two head-strong and usually-right women can respect one another fiercely and unrepentantly. She has given me cuddles when I needed them most and pushed me miles outside of my comfort zone on multiple occasions. Jeanna is the type of friend women write about in fictional novels about how they met in college, attended each other’s weddings, baby showers, divorce parties, 50th birthdays, went on safari together, and spent their last days next to one another in hospice while judging every other octogenarian during seated stretch class with 1lb weights. This is not fiction, this is real life and I feel exceptionally lucky to be able to call Jeanna mi hermana.
Shannon can be a bit harder to love…just kidding! Shannon turned out to be the actual “funny one” in the group (the entire group). With an acerbic but rarely caustic wit, she has had me bent over with laughter on street corners in every country. Her way of speaking and story-telling abilities have taught me multitudes that I now attempt to use in my own speech and writing. Her cleverness has ripped me out of depressive episodes and made me look at my own life with more kindness and eagerness. The depth of loyalty that Shannon has for her family bleeds into her friendships and because of that, I know that Shannon will be joining Jeanna and me in that hospice when we are in our 90’s and reminisce about this insane journey that brought the three of us together.
These women have become extensions of my own body. Whether I am down and Jeanna has offered to bring me every type of Australian remedy along with potable water (and wine) or if I am refusing to go out and Shannon has busted down my door to rough-house me out of bed and into a bar, I could not ask for better friends, travel companions, and general moles with never-ending mole tendencies.
Jeanna & Shannon – I love you.
Anxiety Gremlin – Go f**k yourself, these two women have strengthened and understood me to the point of making you superfluous.
*Thank you to Jeanna for realizing that this line from Les Mis perfectly encapsulates our friendship…and sorry for totally stealing it and using it first.
**Every single person on Remote Year is special to me and has majorly impacted me and added to the ongoing downfall my Anxiety Gremlin.
EDIT: While writing this I was listening to “Memories That You Call (feat. Monsoonsiren)” by ODESZA on repeat without even noticing it. Weird!