Thanksgiving Advent, Day Nineteen: Travel Opportunities
I sometimes avoid bringing this up, because it can seem like bragging when talking to people who haven’t been able, for one reason or another, to travel as much as I have. But I really am thankful for the amazing opportunities I’ve had to go other places — particularly foreign countries.
Where have I been? The British Virgin Islands. Costa Rica. Northern England (South Shields), southern England (Winchester), Israel. Wales and Ireland. Ireland again. Japan, with a second trip nine years later. London, four times. Italy, Greece, and Turkey. India.
It’s quite a lot for a thirty-one-year-old, especially when you figure in how many of those places I went before finishing college (hint: that list ends with the first Japan trip). I sometimes forget that, since various factors have combined to make my family in general kind of ridiculously well-traveled; I’m hoping kniedzw‘s work sends him to Poland next year and I get to tag along, because it’s rare for me to beat my parents or my brother to a country. (Er, none of you guys have been to Poland yet, right? Watch me be wrong about that.) They’ve been to Russia and Malaysia and Hong Kong and Laos and Mongolia and Switzerland and China and Germany and I won’t bore you with the rest of the list. But I’ve been to a lot of places, too.
It’s done so much for my mind, I can’t even put it into words. Not only seeing beautiful and famous landmarks, though that’s often been a cool perk; just seeing other places, and all the differences that go with it. It makes the inside of your skull a bigger place. Not always in a comfortable way; it’s tiring, the constant mental effort that goes with being surrounded by a foreign language, and with changing your behavior to fit your environment. There’s a reason that kniedzw and I, when considering honeymoon possibilities, opted for a Mediterranean cruise; it allowed us to get a taste of some places we were dying to see, while still relaxing and putting out a minimum of effort. I’d love to go to Macchu Picchu someday, or visit China, but the physical work of one and mental work of the other were not what I wanted on my honeymoon.
I have joked — sort of — that what I need to do is decide where I want to travel to, and then think up books to write that would justify the trip as a research expense. It’s only sort of a joke because I really, really want to go on traveling. I don’t have a lot of extravagances in my lifestyle; I don’t drink alcohol or coffee, I don’t smoke, I don’t drive a fancy car or buy much in the way of fancy clothes. I’d rather save that money, and spend it going somewhere cool. The fact that I’ve been able to do so on so many occasions is a great joy to me.