It’s my 24th birthday today, and I wanted to keep up my tradition of looking back over the past year and taking stock of some of the lovely experiences I was lucky enough to have. I’ve done this when I turned twenty-two and twenty-three as well, and it’s always such a wonderful reminder of what’s important to me. Here are my 23 favourite moments from this past year of being 23, in no particular order.
Seeing my mom at the tiny, deserted arrivals area of the Busan airport.
The first time we saw White Beach, bright and early our first morning before many of the tourists were out, and just laughed our way hysterically into the water.
That magical afternoon Dylan and I trekked out to the magical fountain of dreams even though we were so tired and it was so far away. We jumped on an old trampoline at this tiny dilapidated arcade until we couldn’t breathe from laughing and our sides were killing us, then watched the sunset sitting on some rocks and talked, did handstands on the beach and saw the hilarious water and lights show set to classical music.
The whole day of the Busan Fireworks Festival.
The Sunday afternoon after my eye surgery, realizing that I could see all the way to the beautiful bridge and all the detail of the gorgeous glittery water without wearing glasses or contacts.
Walking through the old wood forest in Japan, all alone, just before sunset during magic hour, just thinking “thank you thank you thank you thank you”.
That late summer picnic at Igidae when we rushed out after work and caught the train, brought our own beer and chips and kimbap and chocolate bars and ate on the rocks with the most perfect view of the city in front of us as the sun went down.
The happy hour we spent at Spider House bar on Boracay. Everything was perfect: the drinks, the sunset, the company, the food, the bamboo ladder that led straight from the restaurant into the water, the two swims we had, the vibe.
Running my first 10K race across the Gwangan bridge in Busan. The views were incredible: on one side you could see the beach and the mountains, and on the other side just sparkling ocean.
Dancing onstage at the M.I.A. show at Ultra Seoul.
That whole day we went surfing. Perfect weather, belly laughs, wet tangly hair, playing jenga in the streets, watching a drum parade, and dancing with ajummas outside of Thursday Party.
Each night at dusk in Kyoto by the river, sitting by the bridge with new friends, running up to the Lawson corner store for more cheap Japanese beer, listening to nearby acoustic guitar and ten different languages, watching the water and looking at the lights.
The baseball games on weekend afternoons where we bought cheap beers and laughed at all the chants and tied orange plastic bags to our heads in bows and balls.
Watching the sun set over Haeundae beach from Vesta spa during lunar new year weekend with two great friends, feeling totally blissed out.
Walking the beach during magic hour and then going on the Viking ride at the tiny carnival with my mom. She thought I was crazy for making her go on it but the views from up there were amazing and it just felt like pure joy. That whole day did, really. The whole week did.
Sitting on the rocks on the far side of the beach at dusk, reading a book I was sent in the mail by someone I care about.
Being driven around on the back of the mini truck inside the Tsujiki fish market in Tokyo by a kind man with lots of character, who dropped us off at his favourite sushi restaurant for lunch.
Hiking along the coast to Oryukdo just in time to see the sunset.
Anytime the owner of our favourite Mexican restaurant played the violin, but especially the time when my mom was here to experience it
That sneaky shot at Fuzzy Navel.
Watching the sun rise with Dylan in the lifeguard chair on Haeundae beach on his last morning in Busan. We were exhausted and it was hot and we were sweaty, but I was also really and truly grateful.
That day Katie and I spent derping around Gyeongju on bicycles and the night that followed of sitting on the roof at happy hour. I was so close to leaving Busan that I felt nostalgic already.
Finishing up my year in Korea, sending a box home, packing my bag and getting on a plane bound for Bangkok.
- All the times I watched the sun set (examples: 1, 2, 3)
- Every time I saw the Diamond Bridge and remembered where I was lucky enough to live (examples: 1, 2, 3)
- All the times I was on a roof at dusk
I have had an absolutely incredible year of being alive. I feel both proud and totally humbled that I have created such a life for myself, thrilled but also a bit disbelieving. When I was 18, I would have told you I was too anxious to travel or live away from home, but I’m so happy that I’ve started to learn how to do scary things before I’m ready. I also feel deeply grateful for all the amazing people I am lucky enough to know, care about, and be cared for by. If there’s one thing I learned this past year, it’s how valuable my relationships are – how they are the most important thing.
At the risk of getting too sappy (too late), I just feel so lucky and so blessed. Today I spent part of my birthday swimming in the most gorgeous natural pool of the bluest water you’ve ever seen, under a waterfall in the middle of a jungle in Laos. I’m not entirely sure how I got here, but I plan to do as Cheryl Strayed says: “Let whatever mysterious starlight that guided you this far guide you onward into whatever crazy beauty awaits.” If this year is any indication, a lot more crazy beauty awaits. Bring it on, 24.