Now that we’ve been back in San Diego for a couple of weeks, I thought i would share a few reflections on our epic traveling year. It feels like we gone for a year, though it was really only 9 months. But since we had a newborn during the first 3 months of 2018, it seems reasonable that those days are not particularly clear in memory.
If you’ve been following this blog, you already know that we spent Spring and early Summer in New York (if not, see here). It was a great experience to live in Manhattan, even for a short amount of time. The luxury of being able to easily walk around our neighborhood, and to take fast public transportation when venturing farther away was something I deeply appreciated. And of course, having all the specialty stores and amazing restaurants right at our fingertips was wonderful. I also learned that I don’t want to live in that big a city at this point in my life, and that was an important insight for me. I don’t quite know where I WOULD like to live if I had no constraints on my decision, but at least this insight is helping me one step closer.
In late summer and fall, we were in Denmark and then in the Netherlands, with visits to Birmingham and Berlin interspersed. And in Fall and early winter we were in Göttingen in Germany. Spending time in walkable and bike-able European cities was wonderful, too, and really made me reflect on some of the things I miss when we’re in San Diego, and especially on the things that are important to me in where and how we are going to live next. At this point, we have no idea about where we will be, expect that it will be somewhere in the U.S. I plan to graduate this year, so we may be staying in San Diego only until that time. And where we go next will depend on both of our job situations, and hopefully a little on where we think we will achieve the best quality of life.
That said, San Diego is not a bad place to be for now. We’re enjoying sunny weather (after returning home to a couple of weeks of lots of rain), eating out, exploring our apartment complex (the laundry room!), the local playgrounds and all the toys Storm was to little for when we were here last. I bet Storm does not remember this place that he lived for the first almost four months of his life, but he got comfortable here almost immediately anyway. Paulus and I are settling in well, too.
To be honest, I’m possibly the most excited about being back in my own kitchen again. I haven’t been cooking anything fancy, because cooking is now an activity that needs to fit in between 5.15 and 6pm and must be done with a little helper who does not yet appreciate that the broccoli is better stored in the bowl than on the floor, and whose favorite place to help is hanging on my leg, asking to be picked up, or on my hip, effectively incapacitating one of my arms. But we’re getting it done, we’re eating from scratch, home-cooked food most days, and I’m happy to have all my basic tools (and a bunch of not so basic ones) at my fingertips again. And as I’m writing this, I have sourdough cold-rising in the fridge to hopefully become breads tomorrow morning.
One thing that I’m changing based on our European experience is the waste that I’m producing in the kitchen and the impact I’m creating through my consumption. If you’ve been on this blog before I got pregnant and we had Storm, you will know that I used to write regularly about my attempts at limiting our food waste (here and here, for example). This past year has made me realize that I need to make a greater effort in several areas. Two big, scary climate reports were released this past year. And while their results weren’t exactly surprising (the climate is changing faster than predicted, and we need to take drastic measures if we want to avoid a complete global catastrophe), they really spawned this nagging feeling in me that I have to step up to do my part. So I’m working on reducing my impact on the environment in two ways: food and plastic. In the realm of food, I have, for the past eight or nine months, slowly been reducing my intake of meat. I’m still working on it, but I am down to having meat only a couple of times a week – mostly when we’re eating out. I still have to stop relying on tofu as much as I do, and instead eat more legumes, so there is still work to be done, for sure, before I reach my goal of limiting my reliance on the food types that create the biggest environmental impact. For now, I haven’t even started made any changes to eggs and dairy. My one or two daily coffees are heavy on the cow’s milk, and I’m not quite ready to change that yet. And eggs remain a staple for us, as well as a good source of protein, and also fat for Storm’s growing brain. With respect to plastic, I’m aiming to drastically reduce how of it much we buy and throw out (and recycle). The areas I’m tackling first are those that are relatively straightforward, namely buying fruits, vegetables, and dry goods in bulk and bringing my own reusable containers. And we’re signing up for a CSA box again. Sadly, the farm we used to get vegetables from had to close. We’ll see how we like the new place when we get our first box next week. For now, this is about as far as I have planned to go. Since I have a dissertation to finish, and we may not be staying here for that long, it doesn’t make sense to go all in on this project just yet. But hopefully I’ll be able to establish a solid foundation that we can build on wherever we go next.
Anyway, these are some of the things on my mind, life-wise, right now. I’d love to hear from those of you that have ventured father down the roads of reduced climate impact about what has worked for you!