Well this is different.
Sometimes your life takes a sharp turn. You might end up on a path completely different from what you expected. And it might not be a turn you wanted to make.
A sharp turn.
Even calling it a sharp turn sounds inappropriately mild. I’m not going to dwell much on the details, except for this: One moment, I was in Europe, readying to return to Boulder, where I had moved out of my condo just prior to leaving for vacation. I would fly back the next day, pick up my dog and car, and begin a cross-country drive to live together with my longtime, long-distance love. And then, the phone call. The one in which he told me he was no longer on board with our plan.
That’s all I need to say. Enough so that you’ll understand my urge to get far away. To do something bold and brave and completely different. The last decade of my life involved far too much time in limbo. Time spent waiting. Just when I believed the waiting was over, it ended in an unexpected way. Now, what I need more than anything is action. Movement. Leaps forward.
A new direction.
And so I took a leap. Which is why I spent yesterday afternoon aboard a ferry on the Adriatic Sea, off the coast of Dubrovnik, Croatia. I was on my way to an idyllic fishing village called Lumbarda, on the island of Korčula. It’s an island best known for wine, olives, and incomparable views. It’s a place that stole my heart the first time I visited, three years ago. This time I’ll stay until November.
I was in Croatia just over a month ago, with 10 of my closest friends. They’re the ones who suggested that now—newly homeless—I embrace the opportunity and go somewhere extraordinary. Somewhere special to me, where I can properly grieve, heal, reboot my spirit, and find my happiness again. I knew immediately that Lumbarda would be that place for me.
En route to my Mediterranean home, I paid a prolonged visit to Randolph. It’s a tiny town you’ve probably never heard of in rural Vermont. That’s where Gretchen lives—a goddess of a girlfriend from the aforementioned group of 10. I was invited to come get my footing. To soak up the peace and quiet of farm life and absorb the love from Gretchen’s family and close-knit community. I was also invited to leave Viggo, my beloved Australian Shepherd, to join Gretchen’s pack of pups while I journey abroad. The quirks of small-town living are alive and well in Randolph, and you can bet I’m crafting a post about that, which I’ll share soon.
Next, it was back across the Atlantic to Italy. During my June visit to Florence, I accidentally left my Kindle at an Airbnb. Returning seemed the best way to retrieve it. Plus, a day in Florence meant I could meet up with my new friend Antonella La Macchia, the chef who taught me Italian cooking (another post coming soon, along with a recipe to share). I knew even before meeting Antonella in person, from our email exchange arranging the class, that we’d become fast friends. When I told her that I was coming back to Europe, and the reason why, she insisted we find time for a beer and a big hug.
Then it was off to Mlini, a picturesque pitstop outside Dubrovnik and the site of our girlfriends’ getaway. This time, rather than a sprawling traditional villa, I stayed in a newly renovated apartment just up the road. Ivan, the host, could not have been more helpful and kind. I also met another Ivan, the taxi driver, who lugged my three months’ worth of luggage up and down countless stairs. He promised to tell me the little-known backroads route to nearby Montenegro, where I’ll take a road trip in September. And of course there was plenty of good wine and even better conversation shared with Silvio, Besim, and Jimmy—friends from our past trip who welcomed me back with a seat at the table and the feeling that I belonged.
In preparation for moving to my island digs, I had one important errand to run in Dubrovnik: purchasing a bicycle. I had done my research. I learned that I could buy a bike rather inexpensively—far less than the cost of renting one, and for less money and hassle than transporting one from home. The sporting goods store in Dubrovnik had limited stock, but I found exactly what I wanted (i.e. the single bike remaining in my size). It’s a basic bike to spin around the island, both on and off road. Outfitted with a basket, a helmet, a bell, bottles and cages, and a questionably necessary lock, I rolled my new wheels out the door for $325 USD.
And now, home.
I arrived in Lumbarda to the sweetest welcome from Marija, the Airbnb host with whom I’ve been close since my first stay here. She greeted me with a flurry of hugs and gifts: bottles of Grk and Plavac Mali wine from the family vineyard, plus homemade mint syrup to help refresh in the sweltering heat. I arrived to the familiar view from the balcony, shaded in grape vines and perched above the village square, looking down toward the sea. I arrived in time to catch the sunset while sipping cool Grk and catching up with Marija.
Best of all, I arrived to the feeling of being home.