This is life.


“It’s going to be hard.”


I’ve heard that so many times leading up to this moment, usually from my own smiling mouth.


“Oh yeah, it’ll be hard but definitely worth it.” 


I have a new appreciation for those words after this week. This week, I got my first taste of hardship; real, crushing waves of doubt and isolation, kept at bay only until night when all the white noise dies down. Homesickness hidden by really enthusiastic denial laughs. 


“Hard” now has a feeling attached to it. It means not being able to hold back tears sometimes. It means walking around an unpleasant mix of completely overwhelmed and shockingly hollow. 


“Oh yeah, it’ll be hard but definitely worth it.”


As much as I have begun to understand the first part of the sentence, I have been totally blown away by the second.


I’ve experienced so many singular, beautiful moments this week. Hiking to a clearing in the redwoods to see the stars, and when finding none, being entirely content to sit and laugh. Drinking a colada morada on top of a mountain pass, and enjoying the chilliness in the air. Abandoning my seco de chivo for the dance floor. Watching the dusk turn to dark, seeing the sprawling city of Quito flicker as the moon emerges from the sky. Watching strangers become some of my closest friends.


I guess if this post means anything, its just that my year is no longer a flippant sentence. The hard times hurt, the beautiful times are staggering, and this is just the first week. Soon I’ll begin my home stay and apprenticeship in rural Ecuador. I am so filled with joy when I think about how much I will be molded, changed, dissolved and rebuilt, by this place. 


This is life. It’s so painfully and beautifully and incredibly real, and I am so very grateful for it.