Is there a such thing as being nostalgic for the present?
Because that’s how I felt on New Years Eve, drunk on Pisco and high on life, surrounded by people who were strangers a year ago and who I now consider my family. When the clock struck midnight, I kissed every single person within 10 feet of me, and felt so lucky to get to ring in 2018 with such a huge group of people who I love so, so much. Then we spent the rest of the night dancing on the beach, and all I could think about was how #blessed I was to get to start the year with this band of misfits, and how I never, ever wanted it to end. As the night went on (and on, and on, and on), I willed the sun not to come up because it meant that we were one day closer to Remote Year being over.
To be clear, it’s not just New Year’s Eve that has me feeling this type of “I miss the present while I’m still living in it” way: This is how it’s been nonstop lately. At karaoke night in Santiago, riding on the bus on the way to the airport at 4am in the pitch black, sitting at the workspace listening to people take sales calls (which, by the way, used to annoy the shit out of me), lounging on the couch and eating shitty pizza with my RYBFFS… All I want to do is press *pause* on all of it. Or, at the very least, figure out a way to bottle up how I feel right now — about my friends, about the world, about myself — so that I will never, ever forget it. I’ve started to miss moments while they’re still happening, missing people who are standing right next to me, and longing for memories before I’m finished making them. Everything feels like it’s moving at warp speed toward January 27th, the day this crazy ride is officially over, and I fucking hate it.
It’s like second semester of senior year (** college. not high school.) mixed with the last week of camp sprinkled with the feeling of knowing you’re about to go through the worst breakup of your life. I’m not only losing a community that I have spent every waking minute of the last year with (whether I wanted to or not), I’m losing a lifestyle that I have fallen head over heels in love with. My heart hurts knowing that my life is never, ever going to look like this again, and I know that I am going to look back on the last 365 days as the greatest adventure I’ve ever been on.
Even if I keep traveling (which as of now, is what I plan to do) I’m never going to get to board a plane and move to a new country with 65 people who have become like family to me. I’m never going to get to wake up at 7am on a Saturday morning for a “track event,” spend a Tuesday night telling stories about my dad and my Bat Mitzvah at “The Moth,” or attempt to fit 25 people at a table that was originally reserved for 6 (… we roll deep). I’m never going to get to live in a building where I happen to be friends with all of the occupants, or have the opportunity to jet off to a Thai island for the weekend with my friends at the last minute. Of course, all of the actual travel I’ve done this year has been incredible, but the community — aka all of the ppl who got midnight kisses from me on NYE — is what has made it so special.
Despite the fact that I’m starting to get seriously depressed about this all being over, there’s one other major #feel that I’ve been feeling about all of this coming to an end: I’m really fucking proud of myself.
There were so many moments in the last year when I wanted to give up, quit the program and say “fuck it” and move home: When I was in the hospital with horrible bronchitis, when was living in Cambodia, when my relationship ended, when I heard that one of the girls was talking serious shit about me and I felt like I had no friends, when I went to New York for a week and almost didn’t get on the plane back to Portugal. The last 300-and-something days have been filled with some of the highest highs and lowest lows I’ve ever experienced (and probably ever will), and I somehow got through it. Touching down in the final country means that I’ve officially crossed into the home stretch, and I *never* thought I would make it this far.
With 25 days left until Remote Year’s official end date, I can say with full certainty that I am SO glad I stuck it out. I wouldn’t trade a single minute of this experience — even the really, really hard ones — for anything in this world. And even though I’m sort of a hot mess over the whole thing being over (… I literally cry every time someone puts up a Facebook post), I know that this isn’t something that can last forever. Part of the reason why it’s been as amazing as it has been is because it is only temporary… It’s meant to end after a year and then send us all off into the world (ideally to the parts of it we haven’t already explored) with the skills and experience to kick its ass on our own. And FYI? It’s done it’s job, and then some.
I also know that this batshit crazy experience has bonded me with this group of amazingly brave, intelligent, fun, funny, sometimes annoying, always completely insane humans for the rest of our lives (… whether they like it or not 😈). If you need proof of that, just take one look at the picture at the top of this post, which was taken at 8am on New Year’s day after 10 hours of partying and a misssserable 3 hour bus ride at the crack of dawn. If those smiling, exhausted dirty faces — mixed with the fact that we were willing to hug each other so closely despite how straight-up FILTHY we all were — aren’t proof of the fact that we are totally obsessed with each other in a way that most outsiders probably wouldn’t understand, I don’t know what is.
Now, it’s time to make the next 25,280 minutes count.