My desire for romance and adventure began with my awakening to the world.
Every summer from the time I was 13 to 23, we traveled. To say it was a huge gift is an understatement; it was my lifeline.
Being the conflicted and troubled teen I was, our yearly month abroad was the one time a year I felt alive and at home in myself.
For 30 days out of ever 365 I felt in on the best secret: that the world was much bigger than my suburb, and that what defined me here didn't define me out there.
Once bitten by this bug called FREEDOM, we never recover. I know now what it means to be free without having to hop on a transcontinental flight to experience it, but my love affair with travel has never ended and I've never asked it too.
Travel gives us something only travel can.
Perhaps this is why my parents always planned our trips before they knew how they were going to pay for it. My dad, being a stubborn dreamer and a hard worker made it work out. Plus, he had my mom's help, who not only tolerated his starry-eyed quest for family adventure, she hustled hard beside him to make it happen.
Because they were teammates, and solidly believed if there's a will, there's a way, my two sisters and I saw Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, all of Europe and South America, Egypt, Kenya, and a bit of Russia, and we always had food to eat.
My entire childhood my dad was self-employed as an inventor and a consultant. His business card read, "Inventor and Consultant to other Crazy People." He looked the part too, embracing his bald head with an impressive mustache and a whimsical, glint in his eye that always made him the most interesting person in the room.
Before there was Tony Robbins and Oprah in my life, there was my dad. He gave motivational speeches at my school and inspired people to take risk and to get over their fear of failure.
The way he was at work was the way he was at home. He valued adventure more than security, and whether he meant to or not, he taught me to value the same.
At 21 when I put my finger on a unknown city on a map of Italy, and told my dad I wanted to go there to watch the sunrise from the ocean and study the language, he said, "Go for it" and I did.
As an adult, I rarely told people about how rich I was in travel because it felt like too precious a gift, and I knew I did nothing to deserve it.
Like an unassuming trust fund kid with a safe deposit box filled with gold, travel was my secret. A stranger would talk to me about their amazing experience on Safari, or how they visited Paris, or snorkled the Great Barrier Reef, and I would just nod and smile, and be as intrigued by their experience as they were expecting me to be. I didn't want to take anything away from their experience by hinting I might be able to one-up them with mine. I knew one's travel memories were a sacred thing.
I decided early on that to talk about my own worldly experiences too much might risk lessening their impact, and I couldn't afford to let that happen. So I kept all the memories of camel rides, mystic ruins, colorful marketplaces, Masai Warriors, lion prides and wildebeests, sunflower fields, Italian fountains, and long days spent at the back of busses playing cards with my sisters, and I let those memories sink deep within to become the seeds of new dreams I might share with my own kids.
I can't say who I would be without those early experiences of travel. As Mary Ritter Beard says, "Certainly travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living."
Travel marked my "ideas of living" and became my first religious experience. Because of what I experienced through travel, I could believe in this fantastical idea of "Romance and Adventure", even when my own life didn't immediately reflect "romance and adventure."
Travel was, and always will be, an ever renewing source of hope.
God himself is Romance & Adventure, of that I am sure. Now that I know Him, I recognize His presence in all my memories of travel, but He never imposed on my raw experience. He didn't need to. It was enough that I was awake to the world. Awakenings are their own kind of beginnings.