RY 2.0 Belgrade — Welcoming 32
Before finding out what our itinerary would be for the year, I was getting a bit anxious for what would be chosen for July, my birthday month. It was already pretty nerve-wracking to agree and drop the $5k deposit to do Remote Year without an itinerary but since my life has been a mix of #yolo and #fomo lately, it ultimately just made sense to do Remote Year anyway, even if my month would be in a city I wasn’t excited about…
And it turns out July would be in Belgrade! Of the cities in the itinerary, I honestly wasn’t too excited about it. I knew nothing about Belgrade or Serbia, and so upon finding out that’s where my birthday month would be, I quickly did a Google Photos search to get a glimpse of it. Belgrade looked pretty nice but outside of that, I really didn’t know what to expect or if I’d even like the place. Thankfully now, after being here for just over 3 weeks (sorry, I really should be better about this blogging thing), I’ve come to really like it! Is this something I’m going to feel about every city we go to? Probably.
Birthdays on Remote Year
One of the things I was really anxious about for Remote Year was birthdays in general, especially my own. I’m a pretty big cheeseball and believe that everyone should have a wonderful birthday since it’s their day, and lately my birthdays have been a mix of happy and sad given the circumstances. Also since my birthday fell within the 2nd month of our Remote Year, I wasn’t even sure if we as a tramily would be close enough to want to show up. Yes, I did make a lot of assumptions prior to and really shouldn’t have.
The interesting thing about birthdays on Remote Year is that you are responsible for planning the birthday of the person after you. So you will know ahead of time who’s planning yours and who you’ll be planning for.
Back in Lisbon, Brian asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday and I honestly didn’t know. And he continued to ask every so often, which was nice because it showed that he was really putting thought into it, which I also really really appreciate! So for several weeks I would give him an idea or two; tapas, drinks, and just for people to show up! Finally a week before, I had figured it out: three D’s — dinner, drinks and dancing! People could figure out what they wanted to join and come/go as they please. It was perfect, and thankfully Brian was up for the challenge 😬
It’s one thing when you’re home and worried about people not showing up to your birthday… it’s another when you’re in a totally different city with 38 other folks on the same adventure as you. At home, your “friends” not showing up says a lot. Here, everyone is so incredibly supportive and genuinely want to show up for each other, “friends” or not. Actually, the connection is much deeper than that—we are a tramily, and being there for each other is a natural part of that.
All in all, I had a wonderful birthday abroad. Brian did a fantastic job planning and executing my night, even with a minor hiccup in his plans. He handled it like a champ! Did I mention he also got me a Bueno-flavored cake?! He had asked me what my favourite chocolate was, Kinder White Bueno, and he managed to get a cake that tasted exactly like it 💕 You’re the best, Brian! At the end of all the shenanigans, I managed to accomplish the final D, daylight, with the remaining stragglers.
D for Dad
I usually reserve my actual birthday for my dad since we have the same birthday. And to be honest, I’m not really sure how many we’ll have left together. He doesn’t have a terminal illness or anything serious like that, but he’s a hypochondriac and so every small thing is a big deal to him and it places a bit of a burden on us as a family. It’s one of those things I pray that he can overcome because he really does hold himself back from a lot of things because of his worrisomeness and stress.
There was a period of time where my parents were attending so many wakes and funerals. I don’t think it’s uncommon at their age (~60s), but I do hope it gives him a bit of perspective. Sometimes I feel like he’s just asking to be diagnosed with something terrible just because he thinks every little thing is a means to a much bigger issue. And if he ends up being right (God forbid), I hope it forces him to get out there and really enjoy what is left.
It feels terrible of me to say but I’d hate that if on his death bed, that he’d wish he’d have done more with his life and bought that car (or shoes or pants), went on that vacation, tried that golf course he’s always wanted to try, say the things he’s always wanted to say, make amends with whoever, etc. Life really is too short to waste it sweating the small stuff like that, especially when you’re older. Hopefully my parents will retire soon so that they can relax and travel the world together. They deserve it!
I think the remaining 11 months or so of my 32nd year of life here on earth will still be a mix of #yolo and #fomo and I’m okay with that. Finding the balance is the hard part! I’m hoping to do much more of the #yolo-ing when we reach Asia. CasSEA continues starting in October—well, that’s the intention anyway!
What I’m learning most while on Remote Year is that you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover and that the journey is really a process; nothing is going to change overnight. People are constantly surprising me and I’m finding that the friendships I’m forming are from such unexpected places, some familiar but also mostly not. It’s worth giving someone a shot that you wouldn’t otherwise have.
And while we may be experiencing changes all around us (new cities, new friends, new experiences), changes within are hard AF. I’m not even sure what it is I truly want, I just know that I wouldn’t be here otherwise if there wasn’t something I wanted to change or grow from within myself. I’m still excited for the Cassie that will emerge after this journey. But maybe she’s been there all along, and just needed a little push to come out.