There are people who have never left their hometown. As a newly minted adult, I met them. Boggled at the complexity of the thought, I gaped. They didn’t even drive the four hours to the nearest city across the state line. They’d never left Iowa.
Corn fields are nice, but I need to breath new air every once in awhile. My father was made of wanderlust. As I grew, there were few places in our town we had not seen. Los Angeles was as familiar as an old friend. I spent hours in our car traversing the length and breadth of her streets.
And we went further.
Trips took me to state after state in our nation. I experienced humidity for the first time as a small child. I had my mind expanded when I realized that, if you drive far enough, people’s accents change. I learned the world is not black and white, but filled with all shades of gray. There was lessons learned in trains and buses and planes. I saw America.
I climbed through the desert, I picked through the forest, I sat by lakes and streams and two major oceans.
I lived in other people’s shoes. You can’t not when you travel. I slept in beds that were not my own. I ate at tables that did not resemble home. I found the foreign even in my own country. Early on I found out that not everyone is shaped the same.
I marveled in Missouri why there were so many trees. In my California mind I believed that trees were something you planned. To have them so densely, so chokingly — must be a conspiracy. I voiced my wonder to my parents and asked, “what are they hiding?” It’s been a family joke ever since.
Packed bags provided their own life lessons. All you really need can fit in one or two suitcases. Vital life can be done with less. Real happiness comes with who you are with, not what you carry.
To say I am grateful for my father’s traveler’s heart would be the understatement. My mother provided the necessary comfort for any journey. She packed as if the Boy Scout motto was a creed to be followed without deviation. We were always prepared.
Last week, I stood on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Iceland. I thought of those people I met so many years ago who had never thought to leave their own state. I discovered a new favorite place that took six hours of plane travel and two hours of driving. Had I been like them, had I never moved from my spot, I would have missed the chance to see something this beautiful. This was unlike anything I had seen and I had seen so many days at the ocean. I held my husband’s hand and fell in love again with travel. I can’t wait for our next trip.
About the author: Tabitha Grace Challis
Tabitha is a social media strategist, writer, blogger, and professional geek. Among her published works are the children’s books Jack the Kitten is Very Brave and Machu the Cat is Very Hungry, both published under the name Tabitha Grace Smith.
A California girl (always and forever) she now lives in Maryland with her husband, son, and a collection of cats, dogs, and chickens. Find out more about her on her Amazon author page or follow her on Twitter: @Tabz.