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Since I’ve been in my own little world lately, I figured I should get in at least one blog update before rushing off for my 6th New Years abroad.  In this order, the past five were Edinburgh’s Hogmanay street party, Rome’s Piazza della Repubblica, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay (rained out, drying off in a tiny hotel room watching Paolo Nutini sing in Edinburgh Castle on TV), a night train from Cairo to Aswan in Egypt, and a beach party in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.  You never know when this string of celebrations will, for good or not, end.  In fact, had I not sold my house in November, I’m not sure I would have felt so free to make these plans, particularly for a bit beyond a month of time on the road!

I also rarely posted trip specifics before, but it’s amazing how much more free you feel when you don’t have to ponder that you’re advertising an empty house!  So, as things stand, I leave Dec 26th bound for Dublin, Ireland.  I arrive the 27th and will be there a whole night!  The morning of the 28th, I’ll be hopping straight on to a 6 day Paddywagon bus tour that rings around the whole isle.  Granted you can only see so much in such a short period, but I’m considering it the appetizer.  Beyond that, I have literally no plans until I leave for Paris on the 23rd of January.  So, I have weeks to spend in Dublin certainly and perhaps revisiting somewhere from the tour or I’m looking a lot at the Aran Islands off the Southwestern coast.  The largest island, Inis Mor, is about 9 miles long and at its widest point, about 3 miles wide.  At this time of the year, there won’t be many tourists and it’s mostly a pedestrian place with some awesome prehistoric forts and beautiful geography.  The photos I’ve seen of it call my name, but there’s a chance that somewhere I visit at the outset will call me back louder.  Any one with Ireland suggestions, by all means, feel free to drop them my way!

On the 23rd, bound for Paris for 5 nights before returning home for winter and more reflection time.  You see, at the outset of this grand experiment, the plan was firmly spending my savings on some good old fashioned travel time.  And it may well stay that way, but I’m also toying with the idea of spending some of my savings on something a bit more lasting if I can find the right place, probably in one of Georgia’s “second cities” –  preferably closer to the mid-state.  It may surprise some of you that I nearly put down an offer on a house in Macon this month.  At the literal last moment, I decided to shelve that idea for the moment.

Why not Atlanta?  Atlanta was a chapter of my life I wouldn’t exchange.  Like any good book, it had its highs and lows, and it set the stage for learning how much I loved seeing the world beyond and, of course, it was where I learned to love being behind a camera so much.  But I also don’t relish returning to Atlanta.  I would not be so bold as to say never.  There’s especially some soft spots in my heart for intown Atlanta where I lived my first two years.  They were the poorest years of my life (getting started after college), when every penny mattered, but it seemed everything was on my doorstep of my tiny apartment and it was the most diverse community in which I’ve lived.  So, you can see, genuinely no hard feelings, but I have also grown weary of the size of Atlanta, not the people but the sprawl, for now anyway.  Each trip back to see friends or handle business has reminded me what it’s like to sit in grid lock traffic and how frustrated I got not being able to get somewhere 10 miles away in less than an hour.  If Atlanta can ever escape the car and embrace mass transit, it could be an awesome place.

So, I may come back at the end of January and decide to start down a new path, or I may come back and plan some more travel starting in Spring, or if I have an incredible light bulb go off, I may figure out a way to do some of column A and some of column B.

Where did this new direction come from?  While I was already reading a lot about small living before my summer adrift, I’ve had a lot of time to really read about a lot of different topics, specifically centering around small living, urban homesteading, and trying to have a smaller impact on the world.  And I don’t per se see myself in a travel camper (believe it or not, heavily considered), I do see that even my 1,500 sq foot town house was more than I ever needed alone.  There are families, living in less space than I had to myself.  Some are actually here in the US, but most you’d read about here have done so out of choice, i.e. the (hopefully) growing realization that we don’t really NEED 3,000 square foot houses.  All they become is places to pile more and more belongings.  Anyone who saw my storage unit would know that I’m in no danger of becoming an ascetic monk soon, but I have over the past few years (and will continue to) shed some of the things in my life that are truly just retaining space.  Having a smaller place to keep your stuff is its own mandate to deal with excess.  And if I can wing a way not to be paying for that space over 30 years of my life, all the better.  When you look at how much of your budget is spent on your house and all the stuff in it, you’ll realize that those mortgages are not just a promise to pay a loan but an anchor to a way of life that may not offer you as much satisfaction as you thought.

Anyway, before I get all mystic and hippie-like here, I’ll let it go at that.  I’m happy to discuss with anyone who’s interested and you are free to use it for my sanity hearing later.  😉

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

I hope that everyone out there who I’ve known over the years has an awesome holiday!  This is as close to a card as I’m sending, but the sentiment is heart felt.  Even if I don’t talk to you every day, I think of people I knew last week as well as many years ago quite often.  And even if I’m awful at responding, I love to hear from you about what’s going on in your lives!  Merry Christmas and Happiest year ahead to you all!

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