Sometimes it seems so surreal that I’m really living in a different country. Other times it’s just another normal day and I forget I’m in a different country.
I can remember being around 6 years old sitting on the floor of my bedroom in Wichita staring at a brand new globe. I used to just spin that globe as fast as I could and watch the blue of the ocean spin by fast then I would put my finger on it to stop the spinning. I would then look to see which country I “ended up at” and would wonder what it was like there and I would check to see how far it was from America…well…by my 6 year old definition which was just how far apart my two fingers were from each other (one finger on America and the other finger on the random country).
I remember being in the 2nd grade and my Brownie Girl Scouts troop wrote letters to soldiers overseas for Christmas. I think I got a letter back from the solider I wrote to and I should still have it somewhere. It just amazed me that a person could live in a different country so far away. I wanted so badly to understand it but my little brain just couldn’t fully grasp how it worked. I also attended a school in the 2nd grade that was basically the ESL school in the district and I was jealous that other kids could speak different languages and had different cultures!
Sure, by some people’s definitions I didn’t travel much until the last couple of years of undergraduate. I was 18 when I first flew. I saw the beach for the first time when I was about 14. I saw a mountain for the first time when I was almost 11. I went camping (real camping, not backyard camping) for the first time when I was about 21. I took the subway for the first time when I was 20. I took a city bus for the first time when I was 20 as well.
It’s kind of funny because my dad was in the Air Force Reserves for a bit before I was born and he loves airplanes. I went to quite a few air shows where I got to climb into different airplanes. One of my favorite childhood memories with my dad is when we used to drive out to the end of the runway at airports and lay on the hood of the car with a bag of popcorn and just watch planes take off right above us. Yet it took 18 years before I actually flew! 🙂
Needless to say I was a daydreamer…..
I had never been outside of four states (OK, KS, AR, MO) until I was almost 11 and that was mostly just because we lived so close to the state lines in Joplin (within an hour of all 4 states).
That doesn’t mean my parents and I didn’t not travel at all. I have so many wonderful memories of day and weekend trips growing up. We took quite a few of those and they were SO fun and were perfect for my short attention span as a child. I got to see what was in my own backyard and that is something I want to do when I get back from Kenya. I feel like I’ve lost touch with what is in my backyard in the States and I want to re-explore that. It’s fun to just be able to escape for a few hours from a busy and hectic life without having to spend oodles of money and time traveling from point A to point B. There are hidden treasures all over in your backyard and it’s usually a nice, peaceful, short getaway….my parents taught me to appreciate that.
It’s easy to forget what is right under our nose……
We also spent many weekends traveling to visit relatives. There was also a year when my dad worked in a town 5 hours away during the week so sometimes I tagged along when school was out. I was also always spending the night at friends’ houses. I also took quite a few overnight trips for gymnastic competitions.
I did grow up traveling (just not by some people’s definitions of traveling far away) and became really good at completing hours of homework in the car…I learned the art of writing neatly in a car on bumpy roads.
Sometimes I feel a bit sorry for those who grew up traveling all over and other times did get a bit jealous! 🙂 Every time I take the subway, see a mountain, see the beach, get on a plane, etc….I remember the thrill of what it was like to do each of those things for the first time ever since I was old enough to remember my first time. It’s SO MUCH FUN to relive those moments and I hope I never get so used to something that I forget what that thrill was like.
You can still catch me just staring at a mountain or a beach for a long period of time because I do not want to miss a single second of what I never thought I would get to see……
One of my lifelong goals (other than going skydiving…that’s been on my bucket list since I was 8) was to live in another country and it just seems surreal at times that I’m really doing that. Sometimes it doesn’t feel any different than it did when I was living back in the States and other times I just can’t wrap my mind around the fact that this is my reality.