september sixth, almost seventh

I haven't written a blog post since almost a year ago. Here I am now: in an Airbnb in Nice, France next to my boyfriend, Jake, who's fallen asleep because it's 11:53pm and he's on a normal sleeping schedule. It's September 6th, almost 7th. 

Lately, I've just felt so happy to be alive. 

For the past few weeks, I've been working in Europe, which means I've gotten to spend time with friends, old and new, in amazing locations. I started off in England with my good friend, Zoe Morton, whom I met by shooting her brand a few months ago. Isn't it funny how you can instantly connect with someone and then [four months later] end up in her hometown, being escorted ever so regally in her beautiful green van to all of her special spots, befriending her friends and be-family-ing her family? We camped along the English coast, swam in the most refreshing sea, "kayaked into town for a coffee" (LITERALLY walked down the hill from her fairytale house to the beach/port and kayaked some meters into town, tied up the kayak, climbed up a rusty, barnacled ladder up on to land and into a cafe for coffee... what?!)... Needless to say, it was a sad goodbye for me as I waved goodbye to the explorer and her green van at Stansted Airport after a lovely, laughter-filled six days. 

As soon as I landed in Lagos, Portugal, I was filled with excitement to work with one of my favorite brands again: Wrangler Australia! My over-excitement led me to babble away to my bilingual (Portuguese-Spanish) uber driver in Spanish. We were both too chatty and stopped paying attention to the GPS, and only realizing so after we'd gone 30 mins too far in the wrong direction. I had no service, thus no way of contacting the Wrangler team, and the poor gals were freaking out at the Airbnb thinking I had been taken. I finally arrived to join them, and the next few days were the most fun days of my life, shooting with Ocean Alley band and Wrangler. Of 16 people, I was the only non-Australian, so that was great... Lots of practicing accents, being taught random words/phrases, and being teased for sounding so Californian! The beaches in Portugal are absolutely breathtaking, with dramatic cliffs tracing the otherwise delicate coastline and massive rock formations standing tall in the otherwise calm waters. 

I met my boyfriend, Jake, in Paris a few days later. We spent some days in Paris, eating lots of baguettes and crepes, picnicking along the Seine, listening to the street performers, and catching up after being apart for a few weeks. We caught a train down to Nice, where we continued our baguette/crepe streaks, swam in the most captivating shades of blue, hiked up towards and around a castle (though we never actually ended up at said castle), and rented a cheap scooter that took us alllllll over the south of France and even into Italy! We were literally chillin' on the beach in Menton, France (last French city before Italy) when Jake asked how close we were to Italy. I told him about 15 mins, and he was so keen on crossing the border. We made a random turn and ended up at a beach front resort, where we, for the following 45 minutes, enjoyed wine and chips over a view of a remote beach and the verdant Italian hills, speckled with warm-hued roofs.. Oh, and we scored some free pizza! 

It's 12:45am now. And lately, I've just been so happy to be alive. Life's simple pleasures have been sweeping me off my feet, bringing back a childlike sense of wonder and appreciation for the world. Sunlight dazzling on water, picking up ocean-polished rocks, going for sunset drives, indulging in sweets of every kind, claiming a favorite restaurant in a town that that you call home for three days, and human connection... These simple joys are the most fulfilling ones, and the best part is, you don't even have to go off to some far, foreign land for them. You can find them anywhere--actually, everywhere--in the world.