Monday, August 28, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

Grover, brought to you by Sesame Street

This week's prompt - Monster.
My first thought when I read the prompt was that a Monster had to be something scary, but I don't think mine is. It definitely had its moments, but in general, I'm so grateful that it's been and is still a part of me. My monster is the Travel Bug.

I traveled a lot with my family when I was young. My mom is American, so we would drive down to Virginia every other year to visit her family. We also traveled around eastern Canada, but the Travel Bug didn't come alive inside of me until I left home and started to travel on my own. My first big trip was to San Francisco for the summer during university to stay with my aunt and uncle. I had never gone so far away all on my own before, so this was a big step. My life changed dramatically that summer - my eyes were opened, my confidence came alive, and I knew that I had to see as much of the world as I could. And now was the time, before I had too many responsibilities. I was bitten, hard, and fell under the hold of the Travel Bug big time! Nothing else mattered anymore, I need to get on a plane and fly far away. Traveling felt like such a great way to run away from the parts of my life and myself that I didn't like; to be someone totally different and free from comparisons and expectations, a way to avoid all responsibilities and just be, just see how the world worked and how I fit into it. I could go somewhere new and start over, as many times as I wanted to. I was totally convinced this was the way I wanted to live my life. My Monster was in total control.

Of course, I realized pretty quickly that you can never run away from yourself, from who you are or your responsibilities. Expectations never go away, they just change. And I was faced with a whole set of new issues. I was amazed at how much "stuff" came up while I was on my first adventure in the UK, away from home for 2 years. I think my parents are still paying for some of the many phone calls I made in tears from phone booths across England! I had removed everything familiar and all the walls I had hid behind for so many years- now I was faced with all those issues I had been avoiding for so long. And as hard as I tried to run away, from town to town, from one job to another, I finally realized I had to sit down and deal with it all. I came home and went into therapy and tried to settle down for a while. The Travel Bug was having none of that though!

I was on a plane again, less than two years later. I couldn't find a way to get comfortable back home in Canada- I moved four times in two years. Trying to find something that felt right, that felt like it did when I was overseas, but it was futile. I knew deep down my traveling days were not over yet. I took a job back in my hometown, at the private school I had gone to- working as a house parent in the residence and substitute teaching. It was a great way to save money and helped me buy my plane ticket for Australia. There wasn't one day while I was home that I didn't try to come up with a way to get back out there, to escape once again. Not one single day. Traveling was freedom to me and I wasn't ready to sacrifice that sensation for any sort of "normal" life - even if I had student loans to pay or career ideas to explore. I liked myself better when I was a foreigner, when I was traveling, when I had nothing tying me down and no one around me who didn't understand me. As a backpacker, I was amongst people who were all going through the same thing, who were all running away from something, who were all there to explore life to the fullest while they had the chance - it was completely addictive!!

Everything changed as soon as I met and fell in love with Richard. It was then that I finally stated to think settling down might have some benefits. But luckily we both loved to travel and due to immigration circumstances, we continued to do so for another couple years. And we both look forward to traveling with our children and there are still some continents left for us to explore. South America, all of Europe, maybe even Africa one day. The Travel Bug made me do some crazy things, even make some irrational decisions sometimes, but it also helped me be brave and take chances. It gave me the push I needed to go after something different and I will forever be grateful for its help in becoming who I am today.
Some monsters aren't all that bad.
For more Sunday Scribblings, go here.


rachel said...

I loved your post M, travelling is amazing isn't it, I did it for a few years and found it really hard to settle down. Sometimes I think that I am still wandering and havent found my real home, but that will come in time

Becca said...

I loved this post, and I have a littel travel bug dwelling in me too. You're right when you say that travel "helps you be brave" and gives the the "push you need to go after something different."
How marvelous that you were able to indulge your very benevolent monster in such a positive way.

ruby said...

what a great post! i've always wanted to travel, but i haven't quite figured out "how" to do it yet -- financially, emotionally, it all seems overwhelming. do you do a lot of planning or are you just one of those adventurous souls that just packs up and leaves and figures it out when you get there?

Earth Monkey said...

such a great perspective, explanation, story... i hope to do more traveling. in my limited travel experience i learned quickly how strong I was and just how weak i was... at the same time. oh your kids will so appreciate the travel... many good wishes for a travel filled future.