Thursday, January 27, 2011

Out of the Blue

My oldest friend, sister person Nandi just returned from South America, where she took pictures of Lamas and saw great old European buildings and beautiful woman making shawls and ate delicious food. During college she lived in Amsterdam for two years with her now husband, teaching English. They travelled to Greece, Thailand, all of Europe. Her parents are the kind of people who believe travel is important and support things like using student loans and credit cards to achieve valuable life experiences. It is not that my parents don't value these things, but every time i had a chance to travel, I got in my own way. The first summer after high school I spent in New York. It was here that I was the most optimistic about the future I've ever been. I was 19, young, slim as a green bean- not that that matters, but I remember feeling light and in turn this made me feel free and untethered. I would skip jump, walk hop to doors and twirl on subway poles and laugh and lean forward and swing back while talking. I was so so happy. It was decided- after much begging- that the next summer I could go to Europe. My father supported the idea and my mom was excited for me. But the next summer I didn't go. I spent the next twelve months after my return, pardon my french, fucking up in the most royal ways imaginable. To be fair, most of this behavior was reactionary, but still, everything turned into a three year blur that only started to clear up in 2006. But before that there was money spent on lawyers, rehab, replacing crashed cars. Going abroad got pushed to the back on the list of important things. Once in New York, I would open credit cards and fly home to visit my boyfriend. Three credit cards maxed out on flying to Long Beach, when I could have flown to Mexico City, or Paris or Japan.
And now I find myself 30, living mere miles from where I grew up. I support myself and it feels good, I like paying my own bills, and aside from one dreadful month this past summer, have been doing so since I was 26. A steady diet of hustling and babysitting. But now in hindsight, I have moments of regret. I of course can still travel, and i will, but not in the way I first imagined in high school, when I bought French maps and pasted pictures in my journal of the Eiffel Tower. If I were to travel tomorrow, I don't know if I would go to Paris, most likely I would visit Berlin, Morocco or Barcelona, or Japan, first. And of course I can still open a new credit card and just go, and deal with it later upon my return. And who knows I still might. But right now I just want to get my feet planted firmly on the ground.
I remember before I went to college I had lots of shame about not having gone, and in all reality, starting college at 23 is nothing to be embarrassed about, but at the time, I felt old, dirty and washed up. It's completely ridiculous if I think about it now. But I don't want to feel that way about travelling. I will leave the country when I'm supposed to. Most likely alone. As I find that I enjoy things best when I can be quiet and look in my own particular way, without the shadow of company. I went to the California Community College job fair last weekend and was told that I need to get a PHD if I am going to be a serious competitor in the college teaching job market. I had already silently conceded to this about a month ago and have decided to apply next fall. But that makes five more years. I can't say where I will be at 35, nor do I want to. I do know that although I regret some of my past decisions, they have all inevitably led me to where I am today. And no matter what anyone says about me, or accuses me of, I know I am a hard worker. I am moments away from achieving my ultimate dream, and that is a powerful awesome feeling that I know I owe to myself, no one else. And I own it. Maybe that will take me overseas. Maybe I am meant to experience Europe on a book tour. Who knows. Eye on the prize. Through all the muck and headaches, I have always had my eye on the prize. You should too.

Yoga handstands in Peru. Nandi is the bomb.