November 21, 2008
I’ve always hoped in my 20s to have the kinds of adventures my parents had in theirs. Growing up, all I heard were stories about how they would stay up into the wee hours of the morning planning their travels and then go to the post office and ask for their mail to be held until their return. They would just pack their bags and leave. Sometimes they were gone for months at a time with no fear, no worries about the consequences or repercussions of their actions. With that kind of history, it’s easy to see why I’ve had the travel bug since inception. Truth be told, I was conceived on a cross country road trip my parents took back in the early 80s, and thus began my journey as a traveler and free spirit.
In college, I tried to travel as much as possible. I’d take road trips to nearby cities or fly to visit my family across the country. Each time I would go to the airport, I would dream about hopping on a plane and going somewhere unknown to me. Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale- they all paled in comparison to the exotic destinations I imagined. I even put myself into a serious amount of debt living and studying in Rome and traveling across Italy for four months. As my first international experience, Italy served to open my eyes to a whole new world, a new culture and new locales I’d only dreamed about or seen in movies. It was the best four months of my entire life. The experience changed me in ways I am still grasping now, two years later. But at the end of the day, it surely didn’t satisfy the unending thirst for adventure. Italy served only as a taste, a tease of the fantastically romantic jet-set lifestyle I had anticipated would be in my future. It threw me into a whole new world of possibilities and opened my eyes to what my life could be like.
In reality, as a post-collegiate, I have an entirely different lifestyle than my parents did in their 20s. I have a full time job in corporate America with medical and dental plans. I even have life insurance. I worry about money 24/7. Nowadays, I spend long nights reminiscing about the freedoms college life entitled me to, even if one of those freedoms was getting into debt in the first place. It was all in an effort to chase the dream of being a professional adventure seeker. Growing up with a stay at home mom and a dad who owned a business out of the house, I wasn’t familiar with the traditional “working world” I’ve come to know as an adult. I am now one of those people who desperately envy the kind of lifestyle my parents had and this is the basis for my current predicament.
I learned by example that a good life was comprised of more than just your salary and like them, I hunger for life experience, adventure and connection to others. So how can I satisfy these conflicting interests? I need to pay back my student loans and I need to pay for rent and food, but I need to travel as well. In short, “Thanks Mom and Dad for setting such a carefree example!”- note the sarcasm. Now I am in my 20s having grown up hearing about all of their adventures and I am jealous as hell. Will I ever know what that kind of liberty feels like?