In Memoriam

There are people who love fiercely, deeply, and without reservation. Finding someone who loves like this is rare. And if you’re lucky enough to call a fierce lover “friend”, you will never be alone in a time of need.

I’ve met many people with these characteristics when I traveled. I think being someone who loves without reservation can be necessary in a new environment. When traveling, you can either adjust and see the good in your new surroundings or refuse the unusual and never truly experience the joys of traveling.

I’ve meet these people throughout my life. Some friends and family members come to mind. Two of the most prominent images are of my grandmother and a dear friend. They both passed away in the last few weeks.

GrammyMama and Daddy Neil, my paternal grandparents, were the southern gentleman and belle of Gainesville, Texas. They took spontaneous trips around the US and Canada well into their 70’s. We would visit for the holidays and be surprised to hear about their most recent vacation. They would pack their little black suitcases, up and leave without telling a soul, and come back to talk about their adventures as casually as a younger person might talk about a trip to the grocery store. One of my goals as a traveller is to be that adventurous and receptive to new experiences as I myself age.

Drew Cederberg, a coworker and friend, lived a brave and ambitious life. Drew lived with a life-long illness and died at the age of 31. As I told him about my plans to travel in Italy, his emphatic response was, “Of course I’ll visit!”. My second goal as a traveller is to pursue adventures, in whatever form, even in the hard times.

As I travel, I hope to be that fierce lover. That person who regards each moment with bravery and openness. So here’s in memoriam.

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Drew’s 1966 Mustang

Dreads

The dreads that drove my grandma crazy.

To Life and Gondoliers!

Yesterday, I finished my bachelor’s thesis. Today, I am twenty years old. Bring on the cake!

I think traveling is like living a little, independent life within the wider expanse of your years on earth. There’s a beginning and an end. There’s the initial preparation and trepidation. The ending is often accompanied by sadness and, paradoxically, celebration of the journey. In between, one takes risks, travels a learning curve, forms relationships, and appreciates the wider world and what it has to offer.

Today, I’m looking forward to a new year of life. I’m also looking towards a new chapter of traveling. Maybe I’ll meet more singing gondoliers.

Venice - gondolier and me!

 

Growing Up

This weekend marks the finalization of my undergraduate thesis. The wait has been so long! I can’t comprehend that this is actually the end. My mind also refuses to understand that once my thesis is finished, it’s only a few weeks till I leave for Italy.

My inability to think about my near future, full of changes and upheavals, says something about my fears. I’m afraid of traveling again. What if my flights are cancelled? What if I lose my luggage? I’m afraid of losing my routine. What will I do now that my seminar is finished? What will I do in a time zone seven hours off from my friends and family? I’m afraid of making new friends, switching therapists, joining a new choir, and living with roommates.

What if I just need my mother?!

In the next few months, I will experience the realization of two dreams. These are hopes I have held close, molded with care, and planned for six years. The first, producing a real, valid piece of scientific work; the second, having the opportunity to learn a language I love in a foreign country.

Endings and beginnings are difficult. The experiences along the way are invaluable and hard to let go of. Right now, I don’t have a real conclusion to these thoughts. All I know for sure is that the cyclical pattern of growth is inevitable and beautiful.

Floor

Thanks Erin Leigh!! My favorite picture from the entire trip.

Searching for Peace

I don’t like using words like ‘brave’ or ‘courage’. I think daily life is an act of bravery. But I’m just self-centered enough to talk about it.

Taking those brave steps, that mold you into the person you are meant to become, is terrifying. I have also found, that they are some of the most peaceful experiences. Traveling this past summer was often frightening or stressful (lost in Napoli). But the peace of waking up in the right hostel, resting in a quiet chapel, and making new friends was overwhelming.

This kind of peace was addictive and religious. I fully understand why people center their lifestyle around traveling. To my family, my apologies, I intend to travel until I absolutely cannot!

This may not have been the most famous or beautiful cathedral, but it was one of the most welcoming

Cathedral in Perugia

My hostel in Napoli (Giovanni’s House)

Napoli