The Art and Addiction of Escape: Explaining the Explorer

The following reflection is written by my cousin, Wesley Troost, of Kampen, the Netherlands. He grew up on a dairy farm but began guiding outdoor adventures and participating in extreme sports when he was 17. While searching for what this means professionally, Wesley has traveled extensively as a guide, explorer, and soul-searcher, including a trip…

30×30: Lesson 30: Conclusion: Always keep learning

The illusion of these blog posts is their finality. Here, as in all areas of my life, if I am capable of writing a problem down, it already feels halfway concluded. When numbered, written, and entitled, each lesson on this blog seems to indicate that it is a problem that has already been fixed. The…

30×30: Lesson 29: Beautiful when crying

It is possible to feel beautiful when crying. For me, it’s when the tears emerge without sobs and roll hot and drop off a determined, uplifted chin. When the emotion is safe and cleansing, an expression of freedom as beautiful as music. As long as I am able to put into words my love and…

30×30: Lesson 28: The language of self-erasure

When I was teaching French this summer in Nantes, France, my students made one mistake above almost any other: when in French to say “I’m sorry.” Rather than expressing empathy (“I’m so sorry for your loss!”) or shame (“I entirely regret my actions!”), my students were constantly attempting to use the French phrase Je suis…

30×30: Lesson 27: Stand by me

It isn’t a coincidence that “Stand By Me” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” are two of my favorite songs, not necessarily for their musicality but for their meaning. Both speak of loyalty. I grew to love the second song sometime after I moved to Harrisburg and decided that my sister Andrea was one of the…

30×30: Lesson 26: The goodness of strangers

I was robbed on a crisp December morning in Strasbourg, France, after I had bought hot roasted chestnuts on the Place de la Cathédrale and decided that I needed to change my world. Growing up, I had unconsciously divided all people into those who were “safe” (extended family, church friends, my ballet teacher) and those…

30×30: Lesson 25: The world is big, and life is long

Every time I climb into a plane to leave Europe, I’m filled not with regret but with longing. I was abroad last summer for seven weeks, but I did not manage to see my friend Abdel in Metz nor my former roommate Tobias who just had a baby. I had tried to go to Morocco…

30×30: Lesson 24: Wavy hair, curved hips

Dedicated to Emily Orner. I didn’t believe that life was black and white, but I did prefer it black and grey. When going shopping for dorm room supplies the summer before I began at Susquehanna University, I picked out a set of storage cubbies made of white wire, a black and silver phone, a silver…

30×30: Lesson 23: Just go back to France

  It was 2008. I was a college graduate with a degree in creative writing who had just gotten back from my second extended period of time living in France — this time, spent teaching English to high school students. For the hundredth time I had taken back up the apron at Kathy’s Deli in…

30×30: Lesson 22: Age of the heart

A long time ago I vowed never to be someone who would wince when asked how old she was. When I was younger, I often asked people their age out of pure curiosity, and I found it troubling when I hit a nerve. Maybe because I didn’t like to feel guilty for a question that…

30×30: Lesson 21: The face behind the apron

On-and-off for seven years, I was one of the faces behind the aprons of Kathy’s Deli in Shippensburg. When I first began working at Kathy’s in 2002, I was the quiet one who made your hoagies on a wheat roll with just a tad too little mayonnaise; during college breaks I mixed your cole slaw…

30×30: Lesson 20: Leave it to chance

My friend Lynn was walking me to my car in Lewisburg, PA, after just having finished eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant. I don’t remember what why I was in town or when this story took place, but I do remember I was carrying the plastic bag that held our leftovers, divided between two paper…