It’s been a little while since I last posted on Christmas Lights the Soul, but though my blog hasn’t been as active as I would like it to be, my life certainly has. As a friend of mine recently termed it, “re-entry into life” has resulted in nothing but pure goodness and productivity.
Life after traveling can be enormously difficult, almost like a letdown or a withdrawal. I remember coming home from the British Virgin Islands, from Costa Rica, from the Normandy coast of France, and even from the West Coast of the United States on multiple occasions. Each return to little old Savannah, Georgia was made complete by the feeling of something missing, an emptiness, an overwhelming desire to return to where I had just been days before. It’s a difficult time to get through, and even more so after the holiday season. But, I want to believe that this is part of what drives us to begin planning for and seeking out a new adventure in the future. So perhaps it isn’t all that bad in the end!
Coming home from Europe on January 3, 2012 after just over two months in the UK, Netherlands and Italy, I felt none of the above. A contradicition you say? Perhaps not. And don’t get me wrong- I loved my time in Europe and I am so proud of myself for making the decision to go and following through with it… it is perhaps one of the best decisions in my life so far. But, though I’ll sound cliche in this remark, there’s just no place like home.
Since I’ve been back, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what adventure I want to save up for next, and I keep coming back to the same answer: exploring the Lapland region of Norway, Sweden and Finland, and ending up as a volunteer for a husky farm just outside of Enontekio, Finland… but more on this later. I don’t want to get too carried away!
Another thing I’ve done while I’ve been back home has been a perfectly timed project that has needed to be done for many, many years: digitalizing the family photos that have been sitting in boxes in the closet for over fifteen years. What better gift could I give myself, a 21-year-old facing the daunting but rewarding life-long discovery of self, than a glimpse into my past?
Not only have I found entirely non-flattering photos of myself at age 2, I have found pictures from my parents wedding and honeymoon, photos of both loved ones and friends who have passed on, and even pictures of buildings and places reminiscent of times gone by. But one group of pictures that has really stuck out in my mind is the stack of old photos from trips taken many years ago by my mom, my dad and me. I discovered the photos from a road trip to Washington D.C. in 1994 with my California cousins, Anne and Matt, when Anne ate too many hash browns with cheddar cheese from Cracker Barrel and saw them again on the side of the highway later that day. I found the pictures from our various trips to Florida to visit the Maldonado family and attend a wedding for Monica- the people who enriched my youth with their Ecuadorian smiles and laughter. But perhaps the most important trip I found envelopes and envelopes of pictures from was our six-week trip to Europe in 1998. Flying to Paris with the Roxanne, Alex and Lea Dickinson, going to school in Montmartre, taking the chunnel to London to see Dr. Croll and Jen Morgan, meeting up with my dad and driving through Dijon, the Alps, horrible dinners in Switzerland, late nights in Geneva, meeting our Italian family for the first time in Lucca and Badia Pozzeveri, and Rome. Now I understand why I love to travel. Now I get why I can’t stop thinking about the next adventure.
I am no child psychologist, and nor am I an advocate for spending money frivolously. However, I am and always will be thankful for my parent’s courage and support and encouragement to travel with me as much as possible while I was a kid. They taught me to love airplanes, airports, the excitement of a new adventure, going where I have never stepped foot before. I am certain that it is because of this first European trip in the summer of 1998 that I am the travel junky that I am now. Being the first really memorable trip for me, exploring Europe was a chance to introduce me to the world outside of Savannah Country Day, the world beyond Savannah, Georgia and the United States of America. Because of this wonderful trip, I am looking forward to many, many more trips to many, many different places on this Earth that I would never have even dreamed of going before 1998.
I am so lucky to have parents that recognized the significance of the education that travel gives. If you have the chance and the means to explore this wonderful world, get that crave for adventure and don’t ever look back.