June 6, 2009 5 Comments
One of my life’s goals has always been to see the world.
I’ve been to a few places, but not many. However, as I’ve gotten older I’ve tried to “get out” more.
Last year I went to London (paid for by business expense) and South Carolina. In 2008 I visited the Bahamas and Southern Florida. I’ve been to Hawai’i three times – once for an entire month (best vacation EVER). As a child my father took me on a roller coaster vacation in the summer. Two months. Camping. Roller coasters. It was a FANTASTIC vacation.
In 2 weeks I’ll be leaving for my grandest adventure to date: Europe!
I’ll be visiting: Denmark, Russia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Germany, Netherlands, and Brussels. All in 20 days.
I’ve always imagined myself being someone who would travel the world. Who would backpack around the world, making money for a few months at a time teaching English or working as a Dive Master in some coastal resort.
In my trip to Hawai’i I met this guy named Brooke.
I went to Hawai’i in my 4th year of graduate school. In the middle of stress. A year after my brother passed away, and still missing him. I had broken up with my boyfriend of 5 years only 3 months before I left. I was at odds with my boss, who the day I left for Hawai’i left a letter on my desk telling me that if my work ethic in lab didn’t change that he would kick me out. I needed this vacation more than anything. This vacation saved my life. Or at least my sanity.
Anyway… back to Brooke…
I met Brooke on Kauai. He was living in the hostel. Making shell necklaces for tourists to pay for his hostel fees and food. He had 4 shirts and a pair of swim trunks to his name. Just a care-free attitude that made me never want to go home.
He essentially splits his time between Mt. Baker ski resort in the winter (except for the year I was there — lucky me) and Key West in the summer. Brooke doesn’t drive. He doesn’t have a checking account. No credit cards. He lives off the land — well, sometimes. He spear fishes to catch fish for dinner and picks fruits along the trail for us to eat. He doesn’t even wear shoes, he walks around barefoot – he hikes this way. He says that it brings him closer to the earth.
I know how all of this sounds. But actually talking to him is just… you can see the peace that it brings. The simplicity of the life and lack of stress. He reminded me of the fact that my destiny isn’t as set as I sometimes feel it is. That I have more freedom in life than the world of chemistry allows me to believe. He showed me the passion there was in living.
If it weren’t for the fact that I was so close to being done with grad school I could have easily have seen myself coming back, packing/selling my stuff and living the life of adventure with him for a while. While I did see Brooke again, just a few short months later, I was already starting to settle back into reality, back into the “real world”.
I like to remind myself of Brooke. Not because I want to live his life, but because his life reminds me that the carefree side of me is somewhere in there. The side of me that doesn’t want to stress about money, tomorrow, getting a job. Who can live out of a duffle bag and nothing else. Who doesn’t NEED all the things that I think I do that have given me all this delicious debt that I now have to pay-off.
And when I read travel blogs I yearn for that girl. But my attachments have grown so strong to home. I have cats, a dog, a career that requires me to never be “unemployeed” for longer than 6 months and then, only at defined points. I spent my “free” 6 months teaching rather than traveling because I needed the money.
I never imagined that this is where I would end up. The things that tie me to home are still things that I love, things that I would never want to give up. But at the same time, I still lust after the idea of traveling the world for 2 years with nothing but a small backpack. Or even a year like Krystal at Give Me Back My Five Bucks.
I don’t really know how to rectify my desire to travel, my grounding back home and the career choice that I’ve made. I suppose the only thing I can do is just what I’m doing now. When an opportunity to travel anywhere comes up, take it and “exploit” it. When I get offered a trip to London for 2 days for work, turn it into a week. When my grandma offers me a trip to Europe for 10 days, turn it into 20. And sure, that will get me to Europe and maybe even Asia (I could have gone to Japan as well this year, but turned it down because of the trip to Europe with my grandma), but that won’t get me to central Asia, Africa, South America. Those I guess I’ll have to do on my own.
I feel so guilty about traveling while I still have debt, but at the same time, I am young and I want to enjoy life – quite a paradox. I don’t want to travel when I’m old, I want to travel my entire life. Just hopefully when I’m young I’ll travel on the cheap and then when I’m older do the things I couldn’t afford to do in my younger days. 😉