Tonight, I happened to catch Project Runway. They’ve sent their remaining 5 designers to a variety of places: New York (oh, you poor, poor, loser…sarcasm), Barcelona, Paris, London, and Berlin.
I’ve been to 4 of those 5 places. Which makes me realize how odd my life has been these last several years.
You see, I had never been on a plane before 10th grade. My brother and I were deaf, and we really knew nothing about it. No information on the whys, and hows, and what ifs. So my mom always had this lingering fear that the air pressure change might somehow affect us. One day, we somehow were talking about flying, and I said something about being somewhat afraid of it. My dad’s afraid of flying, and when my mom realized I was taking that same path, she knew we had to challenge it.
So we hopped a plane from Richmond, VA to Charlottesville, NC. A short, 90 minute flight. She stared at me nervously the whole time. At one point, I asked her what she was waiting for – “Is this the point where I clap my hands to my ears and let loose a bloodcurdling scream?” But the flight was uneventful. We landed, we flew back. We declared it a win.
So then my mom, my brother, and I began to travel. We did Bermuda and Alabama, primarily. In college, I went to the Bahamas on a horrible spring break. My brother went to London for a study abroad quarter. My mom and I did a mother-daughter cruise in Italy.
Then I met M. M’s family is all overseas. He, his sister, his mom, and his dad are the only US located members. His parents are both internationally born; he and his sister are first generation Americans. In the time that I have dated M, I have been around the world and back every other year. In 2007, we did Cancun with friends. 2008, Paris and London with M’s orchestra. 2009, we married and went on our honeymoon in Barcelona, taking a cruise that went around the Mediterranean to stops in Italy, Greece, and Turkey. 2010, we went overseas so I could meet their family: Germany, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand. Then in 2011, we managed to stay mostly in the US. The day after Christmas, we flew out to Italy for another Orchestra tour. The trip lasted through the early weeks of 2012.
So now here we are in the first 4 months of 2013. We have been to Singapore, Indonesia, and Bavaria. Primarily for weddings. We are off to Canada in another month. And the orchestra should be announcing their 2014 destination soon.
Having been so many places, people often ask us where they should go. Italy and Germany are my top answers. Europe, in general, is amazing. They possess a different mindset entirely. Our relatives don’t prioritize fancy houses and possessions and….stuff. They live. They buy their meats and eggs and cheeses fresh from the local grocers, who get it from the local farms. They don’t have enormous refrigerators, and they have tiny freezers (if any). They eat what they love, and what they love is fresh, simply flavored foods. I usually come back from trips craving salt and hot, spicy foods: my American tongue is spoiled. They drink beers and wines for pleasure, not to excess. They dress for comfort, not show. And life just seems simpler.
I have never understood the Americans who have no inclination to leave the US. There’s an entire world out there, and it is amazing. It is profound. It forces you to look at your own life, your own thoughts, and your very being. You don’t have to make any great changes, but you should at least understand the differences between America and the rest of the world.