what traveling with Tash taught me

Tash and I got to spend a long weekend re-exploring a city we both love, seeing new bits we missed the first time but really mostly eating. We visited the Parthenon in Bicentennial Park and went up to 'Lover's Circle' lookout to take in the whole city. We spent a night back out on Broadway. We watched Westworld of an evening while drinking hot chocolate. It was a perfect few days. 

At the end of our trip, we built ourselves a fire in the backyard of our AirBnB {more on this later}. Sitting by the fire on a mild Nashville night, Tash and I talked about the future. We reminisced about the last few years and what a wild ride they've been on adventures both shared and separate. Then we sat comfortably in silence. 

I was thinking about everything we had talked about, but also about how my friendship with Tash has been one of the best surprises my life has offered up thus far. I didn't know we'd hit it off the way we did when I flew to meet her for the CMA Fest in 2015. Sure, we had gone to Homegrown together and shared spirits on a Wednesday afternoon. We had attended sporting events with our group of friends. And that was all fine. But spending a chunk of time, just us two, could have been bad.

Luckily {for me at least}, it was the best and we were able to take on crazier and crazier adventures meeting all over the country and the world. Over the course of our many travels and trips, Tash taught me invaluable lessons: 

  1. Chapstick is essential, especially when in the world's driest climate.

  2. You can get robbed and still have the trip of a lifetime.

  3. Sometimes language apps aren't accurate and the Spanish you're using at a restaurant will offend the waiter.

  4. English men make great drinking pals in small-town British pubs on gorgeous July days.

  5. Say yes to every free chocolate sample and every chance to jump into freezing cold rapids in Patagonia. 

  6. Radical self-acceptance is the key to everything you've ever wanted falling into place. 

Tash has been the friend I called sobbing at the Heathrow Airport. The friend who dusted me off after the worst day and the worst news. The friend who celebrated my return to Laos. The friend who told me to go for it every time I had another big dream or bucket list item to mark off. I realize now that she was teaching me that if you accept yourself and stay real, your life will fit like your favourite pair of jeans. You'll be comfortable in your own skin and confident in whatever moves you make.  

I was quietly contemplating how our many, many indescribable adventures and endless 'wtf?!' moments all stemmed from living in the same residence hall all those years ago. Oh Ferg, you absolute cluster. 

The magic of figuring out what I wanted and who I loved and who I was becoming and where I felt at most home all clicked together like a Rubix cube I had been working on for 20 years in New Zealand during my first stay in 2011. I think all that magic happened because of the people I surrounded myself with. People like Tash. 

I met people who became my friends and then became my family. People I've shared the deepest laughs and hardest cries and worst hangovers with. People who seen the best and worst versions of me. I've traveled with them, bungee jumped with their support, sky-dived over them, ran around Auckland's beautiful bays behind them, and {barely} survived music festivals and concerts with their rallying techniques. They have helped me find {and sometimes re-find} full self-acceptance, leading me to find my own recipe for a full and happy life. They have taught {and shown} me unconditional friendship.

Most importantly, they have demonstrated how surrounding yourself with good people who encourage you to live whatever life feels authentic to you, celebrate your victories {big and small}, and remind you to never forget the place or people who keep you grounded {despite how often you travel} always leads to constant fulfillment. 

They are, all of them collectively, everything to me. 

And this blog is evidence of that. It's a love letter to them, really. To life. I've thought so many times about deleting this damn thing, but then I remember what makes me hold onto this space: it's 6-years of memories shared with people I love, diary-ed in detail.

How special is it that I can look back on spaghetti dinners in college with my girlfriends? How cool is it that I can find the first thing I ever wrote about S or Keegan? Look at how far I've come {literally and figuratively} and how much I've grown! All that change is cataloged. Little things {like my personal style} and big things {like international journeys and the evolution of relationships} are all here. I can look up that time Benner and S took me up to Auckland and I met the Welsh Rugby team. I can read about S and Keegan helping me with Lachlan's Pirate-themed birthday party. South America, Asia, Oceania, {some of} Europe {and the U.K.}...bits and pieces of most all of it can be found {in parts, at least} here. Even stateside adventures with the people I love planted here on the homeland are scribbled about in loving detail. 

We poured water over the fire and headed into the house to watch Westworld and finish off leftovers. Selfishly, I didn't want Tash to go. But, as her friend, I knew it was time to let her take on another new adventure in Fiji and then yet another back home. 

I say all the time how lucky I am to have the best people in my life. Tash is a person I could never deserve. She's taught me how to be a friend to my friends...and to myself. And she helped me find a life that fits like dream jeans. Probably my Zara cropped pair. 

It's been a wild ride, Narasy. Let's do it again sometime, shall we?

You can watch a video Tash put together from our weekend here
It's less 'travel-vlog', more 'watch Tara eat stuff awkwardly and make a fool of herself at the Parthenon.'  
If that tickles your fancy, you can watch other {more travel-related} videos of our adventures in the 'Watch' tab above!