In the beginning

“In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be.” – Mary Oliver, Upstream


She said, “Baby, I’m afraid to fall in love
‘Cause what if it’s not reciprocated?”
I told her, “Don’t rush girl, don’t you rush
Guess it’s all a game of patience”

She said, “What if I dive deep?
Will you come in after me?
Would you share your flaws with me? Let me know”
I told her, “Thinking is all wrong
Love will happen when it wants
I know it hurts sometimes, but don’t let it go”

‘Cause I want you
I want you
I want- I want you
‘Cause I want you
I want you
I want- I want you

She said, “What if I tell you all the things I’ve done?
Would you run away from me?”
I told her, “Baby, we all got bags full of shit that we don’t want
But I can’t unpack it for you, baby”

She said, “What if I dive deep?
Will you come in after me?
Would you share your flaws with me? Let me know”
I told her, “Thinking is all wrong
Love will happen when it wants
I know it hurts sometimes, but don’t let it go”

‘Cause I want you
I want you
I want- I want you
‘Cause I want you
I want you
I want- I want you (yeah)

I want you
I want you
I want you, yeah


The last five years have felt like I’ve been moving through life in some form of vessel that propels through water. Sometimes slow. Sometimes steady. Sometimes it feels like I’m capsizing.

A canoe: When I feel like things are too stagnant

Mentally, it’s like I’m stuck in a room full of tree sap before it starts turning into amber. It’s stuffy and viscous. It feels heavy with every breath, and it’s occurred to me that I’m trapped. It’s the feeling of doing something you absolutely hate out of obligation. Or you know… working at a job you know you’ve outgrown.

And you can’t get up too erratically—you have to do it thoughtfully and strategically—otherwise the whole thing tips over.

A kayak: When things are moving quickly

This is like the week I had home renovations (I couldn’t sleep out of anxiety because I was certain something would go wrong), had four job interviews, and had been living off a cool 12 hours of sleep. It’s me mentally blacking out and I’m just blindly going, going, going. Honestly, I look back and wonder how I didn’t fall asleep at the wheel during that week.

I want to say this is like when pressure makes diamonds, but it’s not. It’s like… when you get blackout drunk and wake up the next morning, and instead of a hangover that makes you throw up bile and your head spin, you get one that goes away after a few cups of coconut water and some food. It’s magical in a weird and unpleasant way. It’s like, you’re impressed with yourself but wouldn’t do that again.

The Ben-Hur ship (especially at ramming speed): When I’m trying to live up to my fullest potential

This is this uphill journey meets hamster wheel. Sometimes I feel like I’m not going anywhere and it’s just… wading in water until someone jumps in and saves me. And then sometimes it feels like I’m trying to push my body though tree sap again—cause wow, this sucks but as a means of survival, I need to get out. And then sometimes it’s a wow moment—the rose in the concrete, the salmon swimming upstream for 18 days, a cactus flower finally blooming.

That’s the kind of beauty reserved for us mere mortals—where life is transient, and nothing is ever permanent. 

In the last five years, I came back from a trip of a lifetime, I went through a really bad breakup, I lost a lifelong friend, I moved out of my parents’s house, I worked four different jobs at four different places, I watched friends I used to see everyday move across the country… I went from crawling into my friend’s dorm room window at midnight for a party to watching my friends have a mental breakdown at dinner because they were working 60 hours a week and their boss was treating them like shit.

In many ways, it broke my heart to watch all of us grow up so fast. I’ve always thought of myself as never wanting to grow up. You know how they say some men have Peter Pan syndrome? Well, same. I wanna have fun forever. I want to frolic in a Pride and Prejudice type field in a billowy dress and my sun-streaked hair tousled in the wind. I want to forget that as I get older—so do my parents. I want to jump into the water even when I know it hasn’t warmed up enough to the summer heat. I want to laugh—and in the most non-creepy way, I want everyone I love to be laughing with me.

So which vessel and which way next?

I said to my therapist the other day, “Sometimes I feel like I’m just rowing and rowing to be the best version of myself. I’m so tired. When does it stop?”

And she took my metaphor (love it when someone just picks that up and spins it back to you) and said to me over the airwaves of our virtual call…


“Well, can you ask yourself if you can stop rowing for a second, float, and just enjoy the view?”


In the last five years, I can say I’ve learned a lot, cried a lot, wrote a few strongly-worded emails, pep-talked myself up less than I’d like to admit, found a career I truly love, sent a lot of voice notes to people I miss, have been ashamed of myself but have likewise never felt more proud, and have said goodbye to things that had left before I realized were already gone.

Something that I didn’t do a lot in the last five years was love a lot. I did some, but not a lot. And by love, I mean all the kinds of love worth having—the love you have for your family, for your forever friends but also for people you never thought you’d be friends with, for someone trying to win your affections, for new favourite smells, for charming colour palettes in the sky and neighbourhood buildings, for moments you want to keep forever and stillness in time… for things you never thought you’d have room for in your heart.

I told myself I’d be more vulnerable in 2020 (praise Brené Brown). But even as I’m dog-earing the pages of Daring Greatly, I keep forgetting what that really means. I’d like to put it out into the universe in words that I promise to spend the rest of 2020 being more open. More open to life’s beauty that we sometimes need to spend the whole day searching for. More open to the unknown and the pleasure (and pain) of letting go. More open to unplanned plans. More open to being disappointed, but at the same time, pleasantly delighted.

More open to floating and enjoying the view.



Birthday behaviour

“Annual reminder that you’re not perfect and you still have so much to learn. And that everyone grows differently into new parts of their lives. Every year, we might’ve conquered some things, but we grow into new insecurities all the time. No matter how old we are.” – my diary

Forgetting and remembering again

I think there are points in your life where time stops.

Those perfect moments where you close your eyes… (maybe there’s a ray of sun dusting the top of your forehead) a self-satisfied smile creeps across your face, and you sigh. Deeply. You sigh deeply and think to yourself, This is where I’m supposed to be.

Right here, right now—this is where I’m supposed to exist.

Mine are easy to remember.

Waking up on the living room floor of my best friend’s home. We’re ten. We stayed up watching seasons of “The O.C.” until our eyes grew heavy. Too many blankets and pillows are strewn about. My stomach hurts from overeating Jelly Bellies and crackers with Boursin cheese. We get yelled at by her older sister for leaving the cheese out all night. “It’s expensive cheese!” she’s 16-years-old and knows how to scold.

Strolling the streets of Monterosso, Cinque Terre—in awe—with another one of my best friends. The chalky oranges, reds, and yellows of the buildings don’t seem real to me, even now in memory. The people, the smells, the scene. It epitomizes the European epic you’re supposed experience in your twenties—and it really was just that.

Lying in the field behind my old preschool. It’s 1am. The grass is a little wet—mildew from it being the end of spring. We’re watching clouds move in the moonlight. It’s made up of silky greys and streaks of silver against the softest but deepest black. It’s really beautiful. We don’t even know it, but we’re holding our breath—taking in the micro-movements of something we don’t look enough at.

Wind ruffling the tresses around my face. I’m on a bike. I’m on a bike in Scandinavia, in a proper bike lane. It’s 4am and I’ve just left my friend’s dorm after a party. It’s the end of summer and beginning of fall. You know that transition? It’s kinda sad but also kinda nice. It’s not exactly warm, but perfectly crisp out in the middle of the night. I’m racing down that one sweet little hill on my bike route home. It’s the perfect slope and the perfect length—where you can stand up almost straight on your pedals and really lean into it. The sky’s clear and the stars are sparkly as ever. It’s the best.

It’s weird how vividly I remember these moments on their own, but I forget about them all the time. It makes me think, I’m getting old. Not in the my-brain-is-turning-into-mush way. (Trust me, I’m 26—I get the scoffs.) Not in the gripping-at-my-last-few-dregs-of-youth either—at least not entirely.

But in the way where you’re so hyper-focused on getting ahead, making sure your future is bright and brimming with rewards (I want to say return on investment, gross), thinking of five years later—married? Kids? House in the suburbs? Moneeeeeey?—instead of right now and right here.

Often enough, we’re just thinking about getting to Friday.

I hate that I’m forgetting. Life is a series of a lot of things—borrowing money, decisions, dentist appointments, eaten apples—but maybe it’s also a series of remembering and forgetting.

We forget parts of us to move forward into new, better improved versions of ourselves. Sometimes we forget because we need to heal. We forget full periods of our lives altogether because that was then and this is now. There’s no point looking back, right?


I guess my point is, never forget who you are. It’s easy to forget when you’re constantly iterating… on yourself. And even when you’re not trying to be a better person everyday, you might be getting caught in the undertow (Linkin Park reference, you feel me?).

Sometimes (OK, lately), I don’t feel like myself because I’m worried about new worries and anxious about new anxieties. I’m overwhelmed by all the new shit that’s cropped up in my life because I’m moving forward—and moving forward means stepping into new insecurities. It’s a great thing, but feels like shit sometimes. That’s just growing up.

But, remember the goodies. That helps. As many as there are bad, there are moments we wish to relive every now and then. You might’ve been a complete idiot back then or maybe that was before you became “woke AF”—but that’s still you. 100% allllll you, right there and then. For that moment, that’s where you were meant to exist. Frozen in time.

And that’s worth remembering.

Prince Charming and etc.

I always tell my friends the same hypothetical story of how I’d like to meet someone.

It’s in a coffee shop. With a hot cup of coffee in my hands. I’ll be turning the corner and suddenly BAM! I smack right into him. My drink pours down the front of my shirt (probably scalding my first layer of skin, to be honest) and I’m yelping in pain.

I’m embarrassed. He’s embarrassed and feels terrible (because, duh—the man of my dreams has endless amounts of compassion). And everyone in the coffee shop is second-hand embarrassed… Mostly for me.

“I’m so sorry,” he’ll sputter. And then he’ll offer to buy me another drink. This time it’s iced coffee. All jokes considered.

We’ll sit down and have a long chat about our lives. What makes us tick. What gets us up in the morning. What fulfills us and what empties out our hearts on a daily basis. What our parents are like.

(Ignore the fact that my shirt is stained with coffee and I’m still reeling from the pain of having hot coffee poured all over me.)

It’ll be magical. Momentous. It’ll turn both our worlds upside down. It’ll be all the things and more. I’ll see fireworks in his eyes and he’ll see a Disney sparkle in mind.

This is it, I’ll think to myself. Forget all those other gentlemen callers, the universe has brought me the one! Cease all your efforts, Kaylynn. They are now futile.  

And deep sigh. This is  why I’ll never find someone I like.



Last Bits of Rome…

You know when you’re at McDonald’s post-clubbing?

Yes, yes you do.

Everyone pretty much looks like hell. Girls are walking barefooted with feet dragging across the filthy filthy linoleum floor, dudes are squinty-eyed and discussing the night’s triumphs and mishaps, and it is arguably one of the grossest places to be picked up at at the end of the night.

There’s always a few people who are still club-drunk and are laughing loudly, sputtering out their menu order with the coherency of a toddler, and are generally making a fool out of themselves.

That’s us.

That’s Winda and I, the morning after we’ve broken Fabrizio’s ancient key, missed our morning train to Florence, and are subsequently left wondering our purpose in life in an Italian McDonald’s. We buy 1 euro espresso shots.

We are so. Freaking. hHngover.

It is 9:00 AM in Rome — we had to leave Fabrizio’s apartment due to his checkout policy/we needed to get out of there ASAP before we broke anything else of his.

We are laughing-slash-crying because our heads hurt so much from last night’s escapades. We look like crap. We have our giant backpacks with us — of which is comedic in itself because our backpacks look like they could eat us.

Just to backtrack a bit, this was not our only drunk night in Rome. We also had the opportunity to party with some ridiculous Italians.

Lemme tell you the story.

We’ve set up at Campo de’ Fiori. We have our mojitos, our grape-flavoured hookah. We are basking. A group of Italian dudes at the next table motion towards us to join their table. We submit to their boyish timidness (derived from speaking in broken English) and yet, their Casanova calibre assertiveness. They literally move all of our stuff — our drinks, hookah, table, and chairs — to join their table.

Naturally, they begin introducing themselves. Here we have a lawyer, e-commerce specialist, accountant, and..


“Taxi driver!” They exclaim in unison, pointing out their most outgoing friend whom had initially approached us. He smiles sheepishly. They pause for a second, taking in his self-consciousness. “… And stylist!” They add with enthusiasm/thick Italian accents, pronouncing it stye-leest!

We chat. They are hilarious. One of them, named Francesco, has an amazing handlebar moustache — reminiscent of our friend Alessandro — and continuously strokes it. They talk about their jobs and the friends emphasize just how stylish the Taxi Driver-sash-Stylist is. They really want us to know that he is more than just a taxi driver.

The Stylist invites us to a club.

We get into a cab and head to a Roman club. In hindsight, was it a good idea to get into a cab with strange Italians? I’m gonna say no…

Bumpin’ is not the word I’d use for the club we’re at — maybe simply interesting. The Stylist turns out to be an amazing dancer. Really amazing. Winda steals his stylish hat. We booty bump with Francesco. The Stylist does the Harlem Shake a few times. The ratio between men and women at this club is way off.

I can’t really remember all the details of getting home, but we do. A cab takes us back to our AirBnb in trastevere and I remember him asking for a kiss instead of paying him in euros.

Hard pass, my friend.



Ciao, Roma! You were so good to us.

Sidenote: I come back again for another adventure later on in my Eurotrip — this second time we meet two Italian boys who ask us if we’d like to break into the Coliseum! God bless the Italians.