I have spent my whole youth going travel crazy. From the time I was about 5 years old and I was reading through ancient editions of National Geographic magazine that my mom had found for cheap at some yard sale, I knew that that’s what I wanted to do above all else. My interests became more focused when I started school and I started to learn about history and geography and world cultures. There wasn’t a place I didn’t want to go – you name it, I’ll go!
In high school my friends started to leave the country. They’d go on these school subsidized month long European adventures that my family could never afford. I doubt my mom would’ve let me go even if I could have afforded it. At one point I was nominated for a program that would spend the summer in New Zealand. I had my heart set on it and the fundraising leg work wasn’t going to stop me. I’d almost gotten my mom convinced. But then life got in the way, and my mom decided that I just couldn’t be gone for that long, and she made me give the thousands I’d already fundraised to another girl going on the same trip. I didn’t do a damn thing that summer.
In college I had friends going right and left on study abroad semesters, and that became my goal. I’d had my college courses planned to graduate a semester early, but instead I decided to stay an extra semester so I could study abroad. I plowed through the application and interview process with crossed fingers and daily prayers, and I GOT ACCEPTED! I was going to study for a semester in Rome! I don’t know that I’ve ever been more thrilled than when I got that news.
I didn’t go. My father’s health had declined to a point where we didn’t know if he was going to make it through Christmas, and I had to give the school a definite answer before Christmas vacation, and I just wasn’t able to. That was two years ago, and my dad is still huffing and puffing along.
I shouldn’t complain – for two summers during college I was able to travel a little. I worked a month with a youth group in Ireland in 2012 and 2013, and in 2013 spent some extra time there after the program, as well as a week long trip to Bosnia. Those summers were glorious. They really cemented in my soul the need for travel and adventure. It’s 2015. The most traveling I’ve done since ’13 involved roadtrips across (and half way across) the US. I drove through Canada when I went back to MI from NH, but that doesn’t count as anything at all.
So I’ve spent the past 20 years wanting to see the world, and I’ve seen a bit, but I’ve missed more opportunities than I’ve been able to take. The problem is this: I’ve also been running away from things for as long as I can remember.
As a young child there was never peace in my home. We moved frequently, my parents were separated, and my overly domineering mother wouldn’t allow us to have friends. Yeah, you read that right. There was nothing that I ever felt was holding me in one place, not when I was five, and certainly not now. I’ve allowed a handful of things to prevent travel opportunities – my dad’s health for example – but I feel like that’s a different matter.
I am 23. (I feel ancient, but that’s besides the point.) I want to quit my job, end all my contracts, purchase one flight, and make my way however possible once I’ve landed. I don’t feel attached to my job, my town, my social life, my lifestyle – I am truly unattached. I really can go anywhere and do any thing!
It’s a beautiful thought that gets me up and to work in the morning (you know, so I can save for the plane ticket…)
But what I’ve started to wonder is if I will ever be able to separate my inclination to run away from my desire to travel.
Wherever I go I want to live and I want to appreciate each experience and each place for what it is. I want to be building a life wherever I am, no matter how long I plan to stay. But will I be able to do that? Or will my brain always continue to tell me it’s time to move on? If I’m running from things shouldn’t I end that before I try to find myself a home in the world? Will my own patterns haunt me and not let me settle down or enjoy wherever I am? I need to know this before I go, or it will all be a waste.
I have one dream, and we can all see what that is. We each have one life, and I don’t want to spoil mine by refusing to do it the justice it deserves.