It has now been a whole week since we got back from our adventure and we are starting to settle back into the lives we left. I felt the need to make a final post looking back at our European travels before we start whatever new adventure our lives have in store for us.
Throughout this 9 month experience, we visited 65+ cities in 29 countries on 3 continents, most of which are in Europe. One of the most incredible things about Europe is how vastly different each country is from one another and it was so amazing for us to get to experience so many unique cities and countries. Even more amazing is that there are still so many places we missed out on! We may take a couple year break from going back to Europe but I don’t think I will ever get to the point where I think I will have seen it all there and I would go back and do it all again in a heartbeat.
One of my favorite things about our travels was our ability to go out and make every day a unique and exciting adventure. There were so many days that staying inside and not doing anything sounded amazing, but I am so proud of both of us for fighting those urges and doing something fun, no matter how small that thing was. I hope that this practice is something that we can continue doing while back in the states. My new life motto I picked up on this adventure is a simple, but powerful one: Make today special. If I can do something special each and every day, no matter how small it is, I am going to have one hell of a life.
I don’t care if it is cliche, but this experience totally changed my life. I left upset about work and life and somewhere in between bucket list check marks, I realized that if you don’t mold your life into something that is meaningful and exciting, life will break you down until your only joys are 5 o’clock and the beer that comes with it. Don’t get me wrong, that is an okay life to have and I know some people have it so so so much worse, but when you wake up at 8am Monday morning with a hangover because you stay up late Sunday trying to fit “living” into a 48 hour period you are not truly living. It is my life goal to never get stuck in that rut again but to make every day special and I urge anybody reading this to do the same. There are only a finite number of days left for each and every one of us.
I couldn’t write my final thoughts without mentioning Evan, whose death was a catalyst for this adventure and sparked in me a true belief that you have to fight for every ounce of happiness that life lets you quietly sneak from its tenacious grasp. For the first time since his death, I recently looked back at some of the one-on-one Facebook conversations we had. I came across one concerning Italy back when I visited in 2012 which stopped me in my tracks when I first read it and is still very difficult for me to read to this day.
As hard as it is to read, I’m so thankful to be able to look back at this exchange between us. We really are lucky though, aren’t we? Our absolutely incredible parents instilled us a love for traveling and experiencing life to the fullest while we can and provided us with the means to be able to. I am so thankful for that. At the time of our conversation above, “good thing we got plenty of life ahead of us” was said having no idea what would come up in our lives down the road. That is the scary thing about life, we have no clue what maelstrom of craziness is ahead of us, a minute, an hour, or ten years from now. I like to think that maybe a couple things that were on his bucket list he mentioned, whether actually written down or not, got checked off this past nine months by Lauren and I, through his memory. And if that is not a good way to honor his life, then I don’t know what is.
I absolutely need to thank Lauren from the bottom of my heart for everything she has done to make this trip possible. From the hours and hours of planning that she had to do, to working in cafes and pubs around the world until midnight at times when all she wanted to do was explore with me. This adventure would never have happened without her. I will forever be grateful for her for allowing me to live this dream of mine while she had to give up her dream home and her dream dog for nine months. I am the luckiest man in the universe to be able to call her my wife. Thank you, baby.
Speaking of the dog, I also have to thank our parents for taking care of both of our pets these past nine months and coming to visit us and keeping us from getting too homesick. We are both so thankful to have you all in our lives.
I would also like to thank everybody who followed along with us on this journey through Europe. I am so thankful for being able to have this absolutely incredible experience and to share it with all of you.
It might not be easy jumping back into the real world, but coming back to all of our loving friends and family really does soften the blow. I can’t wait to see them all at the kickball party!
P.S. Just because our European adventure is over, that doesn’t mean this blog is going anywhere! Please continue to follow along with this blog as Lauren and l progress through life. I don’t know what this is going to turn into, but I plan on keeping up with it. Who knows, maybe there’s another big adventure on the horizon!