And so it begins (again)…

28 Jul

A year ago this past Saturday I made my way back Stateside.  A year ago this past Saturday I hugged Claire and Paris goodbye, lugged my backpack and duffel bag onto the plane headed back to New York via Ireland, glistened courtesy of my Croatian tan, and hid under my loose long sleeve shirt and scarf in an attempt to shield the eyes of those around me from my raging bed bug breakout courtesy of Romania.  A year ago this past Saturday I descended into New York, greeted my family, reunited with crappy American olive oil that some trendy restaurant in Brooklyn considers top notch, and settled into the next chapter of my life.  No longer an ex-pat bumming around Europe and learning to live as the Greeks do, a year ago last Saturday I embarked on, as we Americans say, getting a real job, and a real life.

Obviously, I stopped updating this blog shortly after returning home.  I could say part of the reason was that I was busy, which is absolutely valid and true.  I was busy.  But that’s not really an excuse when you somehow find time to write about your experiences in between gallivanting through the Greek islands, navigating through Turkish cisterns, kicking ass at pub golf on a Scottish bar crawl, and, oh yeah, teaching a full schedule of English literature and then hopping on a bus to tutor privately for extra money.  So no, my busy schedule is not what kept me from updating this darn thing.  Honestly, if you want the truth, it’s that I didn’t know what to write that would be of any interest to anyone out there in cyber-land.  After traveling the world, what’s so exciting about living in one place and working in the same cube day after day?  I didn’t want to plummet into the mundane, and I definitely didn’t want to be yet another Carrie wannabe, because God knows there are enough of those girls running through New York City on their daddy’s dime.  I am not Carrie Bradshaw, nor do I care to be.  And I am not one of the millions of girls in this city who moves here to become Carrie.  Or Samantha.  Or Charlotte.  Or a redhead.  I have no interest in that, and I did not want Smiling at Strangers to turn into any semblance of that.  Conversely, there is now such a Sex and the City backlash that so many 20-something blogs are popping up that feature some girl praising herself for being the anti-Carrie, and for showing the world how a REAL girl in 2011 lives in the city.  I am not that girl, either.  I loved the show, I am not afraid to admit, and I have no interest in scoffing at the lives of the characters and acting like my anti-SATC cliché of a blog isn’t just as mundane and overused as those which they oppose.

So where does that leave me?  Someone once told me that I should have no problem keeping up Smiling at Strangers because I don’t actually write about travel (needless to say I was offended…had he not read this at all??).  Rather, he said, I write about my experience, my funny anecdotal observations, and my encounters in everyday life.  What’s great about my blog, he informed me, isn’t that I’m exploring Berlin or Ireland.  My posts are just as engaging whether they recount a tour of Versailles, a night out in Dubrovnik, buying groceries in Athens or a simple hot sweaty bus ride.  It’s how I tell the story, not the story itself, he said.

And so after a year I finally realized, maybe I do still have some funny, interesting stories to tell.  After all, I may not be living in Greece any longer, but I do live in New York City – not too shabby, eh?  I live in one of the greatest, most exciting cities in the world, and I realized that if I didn’t think I was doing anything worth writing about, I should probably start working on that, because the resources are out there, and the stories are everywhere.

So hopefully Smiling at Strangers will stay true to its original incarnation, which is what I wanted for it all along.  We’re just in a new city now, one where I can (sometimes) understand what the people around me are saying.  I’ve somehow managed to find a new life here back in the States, so why can’t this mighty little website find one as well?

Here goes nothing…


2 Responses to “And so it begins (again)…”

  1. Jillian Levi July 28, 2011 at 5:02 pm #


  2. Frank B July 29, 2011 at 10:20 am #

    It’s about time. My life has been empty without your posts. Can’t wait for your new posts.

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