Ramble On

Got no time to for spreadin’ roots, the time has come to be gone. 
And to our health we drank a thousand times, it’s time to ramble on…

It’s funny how extended travel can bring on such nostalgia and fondness for the foreign that, at times, it tempts one to pack up and catch the next flight out of town.  Take me for example.  In the months leading up to our wedding, my then fiance proposed we take an unconventional honeymoon – that is, postpone the whole “settling down” aspect of marriage and take to the skies for a minimally planned Asian backpacking adventure.  …Naturally, I panicked.  You see, on one level I think of myself as the adventure-seeking, free spirited nomad who would drop everything without a second thought to experience the world in this way; at least, that’s what my collegiate self would say.  But my now Master’s in Higher Education possessing, grown-up self begged to differ.  Academically, I had graduated – twice – and, in my mind, this meant the time had come to advance to the next level of maturity; in other words, I had to trade my flowing skirts for a pantsuit and find myself a job.  There was no time for this “traveling the world” business.  That would be irresponsible.  Right?

As for my grad school cohort, the job search frenzy had begun.  One by one, they announced the news of their gainful employment and hopped on planes bound for the college towns that would be their new homes.  And there I was, torn.  What was I supposed to do?  I cringed at the thought of setting my beautiful, crisp graduate diploma aside, putting my long-time-coming career on hold and spending my crucial 26th year bouncing from one third world village to the next.  But, yes.  That was exactly what I was supposed to do.  And that’s what I did.  Excuse me, we did – my husband and I.  Despite my resistance, my ever-logical husband won me over with a pragmatic spiel about how this was our one chance – before the obligations of jobs and children – to see the world together while we were still young.  And I knew deep down that he was right.  So I agreed.  And let me tell you, it was glorious – life changing even.  Two weeks after our nuptials we found ourselves in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam with two giant backpacks and a hunger for adventure.  That was how we lived for almost five months.  No plan extending beyond three or four days, no jobs lined up for when we returned to the States – heck, we didn’t even have a plane ticket home.  We saw Vietnam.  We saw Thailand.  We saw India.  And we didn’t just see, we experienced.  We talked to people, we stayed with locals, we simply lived.

I found out what “back to basics” really means on this trip.  Each day presented new obstacles and our only task was to overcome them: nourish ourselves, find shelter, get from point A to point B.  Life was simple, yet incredibly complicated.  Sure, “nourish ourselves” seems easy enough – as long as you don’t drink the water; “finding shelter” poses no problem – unless you’re in a tiny, remote village with zero technology and booking ahead is not an option.  And then there’s “getting from point A to point B.”  Whew.  Where do I begin?  On any given move, we’d have to flag down a rickshaw, bargain with the driver, then take a train or a bus or both, usually over the course of an entire day.  A whole day just for traveling a distance that would take a few short hours in the States.  Exhausting is the word that comes to mind.  But no matter how exhausted or frustrated we got, we knew that if we pushed through it we’d reap the rewards that so often accompany cultural enlightenment.  And boy did we.  We saw the most beautiful sights, both natural and man-made, and we met some of the kindest, most gracious people I’ve ever encountered.  I now know what it means to fully immerse oneself in another culture, to close one’s eyes and take a giant leap into the unknown and uncomfortable.   I can also boast the achievement of adding a good many pushpins to my framed world map.

But no matter how many moments of enlightenment we experienced, we knew that each passing day was bringing us that much closer to the inevitable.  Eventually we would run out of money, and the responsible adults inside of us thought it would probably be a good idea to return home before then.  And despite my new found eagerness to ditch the predictable route and continue wandering through life on a whim, I was homesick.  In every possible way (just ask my husband – ref: Christmas, 2012).  I missed my bed, my family, pizza.  And on March 26, 2013 boarding the plane back to my home state was just as exhilarating as leaving it.  Well, except for the ride to the airport, but I’ll touch on that some other time…

Ultimately, my point is this:  * Cliche alert * The life choice that I feared would veer me away from the path I’d chosen for myself actually steered me onto the path I was meant to be on.  Life is funny that way.  Now that we’ve “settled down” and have our jobs, our apartment, a steady income – the whole nine – we often find ourselves planning our next big trip.  Where will we go?  When will we be able to afford it?  And then we remember our careers, our plans for children, our “responsibilities”… There will always be some good reason to stay put, to settle.  And, don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly fine to listen to that reasoning.  But I can promise you this, when you feel life tugging you outside of your comfort zone, sometimes the best thing you can do is let it.  Who knows, maybe you’ll end up with some stories like these… http://www.travelblog.org/Bloggers/kellyhodo

Thanks for reading, and happy rambling!

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