I didn’t exactly know where I belonged for so long. Even though I grew up in Southern California, I didn’t grow up with money or with a family that traveled the world. Growing up, I’d hear my friend’s stories of their cruise trips and vacations to Europe or the Bahamas. I had never seen the world like them. I had seen Buffalo, New York, Arizona, Niagara Falls and Mammoth Mountain to be exact.
This longing for the chance to travel, to leave, to go anywhere else but where I was consumed me. I filled my mind with the thought that I didn’t know when or where I would go, but I knew that I would work so hard until I got the chance to leave my small town.
And then I fell in love.
See I fell in love with this boy who was independent. He lived on his own, was a Junior in college and was extremely smart, hilarious and caring.
I found myself mesmerized by him. And then, after just one month, he told me he was leaving America to live in Barcelona for a third of the year.
I had known him for all of maybe two months, but I knew with all my heart that I loved him. I knew that this would be worth waiting for.
Here I was, a girl presented with an opportunity to create a memory completely of her own.
So, despite hundreds of people- and even sometimes a part of myself, I decided that I would wait for him to come back for four months, and book a thousand dollar plane ticket to visit him after 3 and a half.
And so I waited.
Three and a half months went by of poor quality facetiming, and three hours a day of mutual time zone communication.
The day finally came for me to fly across the country by myself.
I boarded the plane and flew to see this boy, butterflies in my stomach. This week was one of the best weeks of my life. I saw Barcelona, Paris, London! I saw a new world! Suddenly my life changed. This boy had made me a traveler.
After Europe soon came Mexico, then New York City, then Hawaii, then Thailand, then Hong Kong. All with him. We had so much fun experiencing foreign culture together, learning new lifestyles. We took sketchy rides from Thai men in trucks to get back to our hotel. I hugged him tight while he zipped through the streets of Phuket on a scooter bike. We dove into underwater caves together in Mexico and rubbed weird sand clay on our faces.
And then it ended.
When our relationship ended, I lost not only my best friend, but my travel companion. Things felt so empty.
It took me a little, but I finally decided to travel again without him. It was odd at first, but then I realized something;
Relationships ending make you see that all the things you thought you’d only ever be able to do with one person, you can and will do with new people. People who love you. Friends, family, new crushes. It seems like it’s impossible to move on with your life when you got so used to assigning your happiness to a person.
So I surfed in Oahu. I built a snowman in Tahoe. I went on tour! I touched The Bean in Chicago!
I love to travel. My old best friend helped me find that passion. Him leaving did not take my love of traveling with him.
And so, I continue to travel as many days out of the year that I can. I still am the girl who longs to go anywhere but where I am settled. My happy place is everywhere that I have not yet explored. It brings me so much joy!
I encourage everyone to find your passion, find the places that you fall in love with, and don’t be afraid to find these places with people who fill your life with happiness right now. Don’t be afraid of making memories for the fear that one day the people you shared them with won’t be with you anymore. This is all part of the beautiful journey we call life. People come in and out of it, but memories of happy times will last forever.