Sunday, January 31, 2010

Past experience... or lack of it.

I haven't been to many places in my short life. I've been around Michigan, to Ohio, Kentucky, Florida, California, and Canada. It's a short and sad little list. I've always felt like I should travel. I looked into studying abroad during my undergraduate studies at WMU. I wanted to go to Prague for six weeks to study photography, but it didn't feel right, especially when I was charging my groceries and working three jobs to pay the bills. When I got married, we wanted to go on the traditional honeymoon, but we didn't have the money. My husband and I talk about traveling quite often, but that is all that it is... talk, dreams, and wishes of winning the lottery.

My family didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up. We didn't do the long road trips in the car to the West Coast or East Coast. We stuck to the Midwest. We didn't take the trips to Disney World or go camping. Like all the other plans of travel I've had throughout my life, it was a lot of fantasy. When we had enough money we would go..., when we were a little older we would..., when my dad felt better we would... We lived comfortably, dressed well, and had enough to eat. Nothing to complain about. I still felt like something was missing. I had visions of myself hiking around with a backpack somewhere mountainous. I just didn't know where because I'd never seen the mountains.

My parents did what they could. They took us out of school one day a year in the fall and drove us up north to see the colors. We would pack into the car and drive a few hours until we were in the woods surrounded by those classic fall hues you only see in Michigan. We always stopped at a deer preserve, put a nickel into the corn machine, and fed the deer. It made me feel adventurous even though the deer were behind a fence.

When I heard about the trip to West Africa through Fulbright-Hays in 2009, I got excited. I went out to get my first passport. I was given a stern talking to from the girls at the photo desk at Walgreens to stop smiling ("Yeah, could you just like, STOP IT?") for the passport picture. It took three tries and they couldn't stop rolling their eyes at me. But I couldn't help but feel giddy at the prospect of actually using and needing a passport.

Today I found out that we are departing on June 12th or June 19th. It's in the books and it's really going to happen. We have a lot of research and work ahead of us, but I am looking forward to challenging pretty much everything about myself. Am I really the adventurer I've always felt I was? We shall see.
My favorite kind of adventure thus far... finding a new path in the woods!

Coming up... the kids and the school.

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