My 2023 Favorites

I'm so grateful I experienced the places I did this year.

While touring the famous mansions of Newport, I wondered why these few people would need so many possessions. At a point, a house becomes too big. Another painting is not as gratifying as the previous. I imagine the pursuit of beauty eventually leads to cold and dark spaces filled with aimlessness and empty satisfaction. I didn't stick around to find out.
Boston winters are monotonous, so we set out for a hiking adventure. After a confusing transit route trying to align unreliable bus and train schedules, we arrived at an abandoned asylum near the pond. The bus driver, with concern in his eyes, gave us a cautious "goodbye" as we walked to the edge of the forest. With knowledge of a rock-lookout over Boston and the assumption that one of these paths must get us there, we entered the woods. We got lost. We found a zoo, a park, and graffiti throughout the cliff paths outlining a very elaborate proposal to someone named Jess (congrats). That day, we certainly had a spontaneous adventure. 
Some kids watched Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, or Nickelodeon. I was raised watching HGTV. After seeing this big building next to Newbury street for years, I decided to walk in. Thinking it was an art museum, instead I found a playground of interior design. The placement of shapes, balancing of colors, and design of feature pieces kept me exploring until closing time.
After exploring the bookstore, I saw her with a travel book about Iceland in her hand. "I'd love to go there some day," I said. "We're going next month. Wanna come?" And within three weeks, our plane arrived at Keflavík Airport. Throughout the flight, I was too shocked to sleep. I've travelled far on my own, but always to a place I'd have the comfort of more experienced company. The three of us were on our own. Who was letting us do this? I was shocked by my own ability.
The excitement lasted throughout the trip. We saw the aurora borealis while eating giant waffles from a tiny waffle van. Of course, we unexpectedly met other Boston students in the streets of Reykjavík--Boston follows you everywhere. I realized how little I know about chess one night in the loft of a bookstore while a band played "Don't Stop Believing'" for the party downstairs. Throughout it all, I experienced the unknown, and I loved it.
Something I love about modern architecture - the best of it - is that it will challenge your conception of shape, pattern, and space. Buildings designed this way are always surprising. The Harpa Concet Hall is exactly like that. We wandered around wondering what we would see next. 
Ask someone about where they live for small talk. Ask someone why they live there for a conversation. I love art (clearly), so I was bored one day and wandered into a gallery. It struck me that I'd browse items for minutes while each was the work of meticulous hours. If I were the artist watching people come in and out of the shop, I'd think how unaware every person who tosses a "that's pretty" compliment is to the creativity that went into each painting. I decided in respect of how scarce creativity like this is now days, I ought to ask about her about her work. Obviously, I learned about her instead--art is the expression of the artist after all. She told me why she moved to Savannah and what led her to painting. I told her about my painting, that I'm not very good and I'd like to learn more so one day my walls will be covered with canvases. "Let's start that wall," she said as she took down the painting I had been staring at, signed it with a note, and offered me a huge discount. I've hung it up, reminding myself of my time on that island and, more significantly, that to understand the world around me is to understand the people in it.
Every person has ideas. We guide our actions on ideas. It is our capacity for generating ideas that distinguishes us from all other living things. Ideas are common. It's easy to forget that Taylor Swift has ideas, just like you and I. Her ideas makes stories, poetry, and eras that sell out stadiums. Her ideas must have some illustrious divine value that a common person cannot have, right? 
Listen to her. Her thoughts are not uncommon and her art, masterfully crafted, is based on her ideas. We all feel what she describes. The brilliance of her tour juxtaposed with the simple concept of a single human idea is inspirational. Her imaginative capacity, something that we all have, sold out stadiums. Her indescribable presence started with an idea. She is a beacon to every person with an idea that, no matter how bold or unrealistic, it can become reality. Dreams don't have to disappear when we wake up--the strongest minds catch and hold onto them before they flutter away into forgetfulness.
This is the only time I used a digital camera in 2023. I loved it. I captured as much as I could of an area of home that carries so many memories. These streets held booming Independence Day fireworks, laughs during countless nights of board games, the glow of orange lights illuminating our too-old faces asking for Halloween candy, and whispers from neighborhood-wide hide-and-seek. Friends were forged here. Though that time is gone, the ghosts of their memories will always wander these streets. 
This was the most unexpected and my favorite thing of the year. Never did I ever imagine that I would live on this island. And never did I, someone who hated the ocean, imagine that I would be a lifeguard watching the water where JAWS was shot. Here I met story-worthy characters, said "yes" when my comfort zone begged "no". Hearing the soft rhythm of the sea waves, looking up into the galactical night sky, I relearned where my place is in the universe. Sounds dramatic, I'm sure. I guess you'll have to go see if I'm exaggerating.
I'm not sure what it is about the slight chill in the air of a late summer night paired with small warm yellow lights. The nighttime is so imaginative. Well, Oak Bluffs is a place with already whimsical houses made to look like Hansel & Gretel could be just around the corner. Illumination enhances the fairytale effect. The entire community decorates their homes in lanterns, transporting you into your imagination. Chirping crickets, the Atlantic scent of quietly crashing waves, glowing lanterns softly lighting the town--the stories you can imagine practically write themselves.
Walden Pond, MA (USA)
I've been here three times. Each time has been in the fall. I believed I had seen it before and read about it plenty. Each time I was surprised by how long I could sit and just be. 
Am I just more dramatic or sentimental here? I must be forcing it. It's just some water and trees. I'll go again to find out.
St. Augustine, FL (USA)
I'm generally not a fan of Florida. It seems so fabricated to the desires of "The Consumer" (whatever that means). I like a place that isn't designed for efficiency. Instead of the architect figuring out how to minimize spending for the maximum effect, I like buildings where the architect just wanted to make something beautiful. Florida has a lot of the marsh and concrete vibe--the efficiency mindset. St. Augustine seems to be the place that escapes that. The buildings here are ornate and historic. I'm not sure who the designer was, but I love that I can feel their presence.

you may also like

Back to Top