A Traveler’s Terrene

You only live once. What are you going to remember the most?

Nostalgia February 7, 2009

After hours of packing…unpacking…repacking…packing…unpacking..repacking…I finally squished a years worth of stuff into two bags and a carry on and walked out my parents door, not to return for another year…or longer. Looking back as the car pulled out of my driveway, I was overcome with mixed emotions. On one hand, I am ecstatic to return to my life in Italy, to be around the language, to live abroad and to be pursuing my passions. I am thankful and grateful for this opportunity, it is everything I have dreamed for and I am excited for this new adventure. On the other hand, knowing that I will miss out on the simple joys of waking up to my dad cooking breakfast, making lunch for my older brother Mark , or drinking a glass of wine with my mom makes me emotional. Sure these are just simple, ordinary things; yet, because I will be living thousands of miles away with an ocean between, I simply can’t do them, and this makes me sad.

My brother Mark is a globetrotter as well and is leaving with his girlfriend Lindy in three days for Guatemala for five weeks. I went into his room to see how his packing was going and after a big brotherly hug, I was in tears. Giant, wet, mascara running tears. Partly because, I’ve been so wrapped up in my on-line life (writing, blogging, facebook, emails etc.) that I’ve hardly hung out with him, one of my best friends, and partly because in a few days and I won’t see him for a year. I am mad at myself for wasting the past month of us actually being home together, because with life, you never know where you are going to end up. What if we never live in the same city again?

The  emotions are  the same for my parents, oldest brother, sister-in-law and nephew. I still fortunately don’t have to say goodbye to them for a few weeks, but I know when I do I will be in tears. You will know it is the day I am leaving if you see me with big, wet, mascara stained cheeks.

I know I am on the right track by following my dreams, but it still doesn’t make it any easier to leave the people I love. To know that I will be missing out on all of the little things, the simple pleasures of ordinary life with family is what makes it the hardest.

Yet, in the cloudy mist of my teary eyes, I know things always work out for a reason. If I was meant to stay, my heart would tell me not to leave. But, my heart is not ready to stay idle, yet anyways.  I have to keep moving forward, I still have so much terrene to explore, so many new things to experience.  This wonderlust heart is part of me. I can’t keep it caged, I have to let it roam free.

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Back in the U.S.A December 14, 2008

It was exactly 10 months from today that I boarded a plane for New Zealand. I left my family. I left my boyfriend. I left my friends. I left beautiful Seattle…my home. I challenged myself to take a risk, to be independent, to follow a dream of exploring the world and experiencing culture while it still exists.

I returned to Seattle three days ago with 50 some gigs of photos and experiences that have changed my life. I couldn’t have dreamed of a better trip, better travel companions or better memories while traveling the world.

And, now after 10 months…I am back where I started. I am sitting on a comfy couch in my brother’s warm living room writing on my laptop while the rest of my family (minus my brother Mark who is coming on Monday) sits next to me reading the newspaper or watching t.v. It is as though nothing has changed, everything seems the same. If it weren’t for me being curled up in my blue and green Tibetan shawl I bought in India, I may think that my around the world trip was just a figment of my imagination. But this soft blanket reminds me of all that I have experienced, all that I have DONE in the past 10 months. And, for this I smile.

It was hard to take the plunge and to leave my family, boyfriend, friends and my comfortable life in Seattle. My life was incredible before I left–why would I leave? One word: dreams. Everyone has different dreams and goals. Some people dream of becoming a professional basketball player, while others dream of being the best stay at home mom. There is no wrong dream, it is yours and it is what makes you get up in the morning with a smile on your face and butterflies in your stomach as you quest to fulfill them.

One of my dreams was to travel the world. Ten months ago I was 25, two years into my career but with no car payments, house payments or kids. I was free from the materialistic burdens that tie a person to one place. Besides leaving the people I loved, it was good timing and if I didn’t leave then, I knew I never would.

Now I sit here on the same couch I sat 10 months ago, only this time my body is warmly wrapped in a Tibetan shawl, my head is filled with incredible travel memories and my heart is content that I fulfilled one of my internal passions. I missed many people and things while I was gone, but they were here waiting for me when I got back.

Don’t be afraid to leave the comfort of your home.

Home, is a place you can always return.

 

1 Week Countdown! December 4, 2008

One week from today I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean and returning home to Seattle after 10 months of globetrotting the world!  This past 10 months has been an experience of a lifetime but there has been many people and things I have missed dearly while being away:

1. My adorable nephew Thomas who was born 2 weeks after I left on my trip and whom I still haven’t met. One week Little Thomas and I will be holding you in my arms! I love you!!!

Thomas smiling

2. My family: Dad, Mom, Cliff, Jordan and Mark…a.k.a. The Swain Gang. I am SO SO SO SO SO excited to see you all. Thank each of you for every smile you bring to my face when I think about you.

3. My second family: Rambos, Olsons, and Hergerts–I can’t wait to see you all over Christmas! Terra, Kayla, Josh and Kyle…I probably won’t even recognize you kids because you will be taller and bigger than me by now!

4. Friends: To all my wonderful, amazing friends…I have missed you all and am ecstatic to catch up with each of you when I am home!!!

5. My former co-workers: I miss the cube talks, energetic environment and your creative minds. It will be wonderful to see you all again!

6. Morning talks with my Dad

7.  Family Fun Nights

8.  My BBCB

9.  Little Thomas

Thomas having fun in a bag

10. Chicken quesadilla’s from Peso’s, chicken salad from Purple Cafe and Rojos salsa

11. My down comforter

12. The views of Lake Union and Mt. Rainier driving South from I5

13. My snowboard

14. My wakeboard

15. My MAC

16. Il mio nipote

    Thomas rockin' a hilarious face

17. Girls nights out

18. Boating on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Union and Lake Washington

19. My clothes, high heels, jewelry and jeans

20. Northwest microbrew beer

21. Sister Zesma

22. Watching the Seahawks in my Seahawk scrubs on a lazy Sunday afternoon

23. Beer Pong

24. My perfumes

25. Throwing dinner parties for friends

26. My blue-eyed munchkin

Thomas eating cheerios

 

Star Jumping and Toyota Kicking the world! November 14, 2008

Yesterday marked my 9 month anniversary of leaving Seattle to travel around the world!  It was an experience of a lifetime, an epic adventure. I freed the explorer inside me that has been restless since my childhood days when I explored the world in my backyard. I finally had the courage to say to that little voice…go on…PLAY! IMAGINE! CREATE! The world is your playground I told myself, it is a Traveler’s Terrene.

So here I am nine months later with some 50 gigs of photos, unforgettable memories, and a global network of new friends.  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. From the people I travelled with on different legs of the trip: my older brother “Mohawk Mark” (2 months in New Zealand), college friend and dance extraordinaire Brian (3 weeks in Thailand), my childhood next door neighbor and “Sister Zesma” Suzanne (5 months throughout Southeast Asia, Turkey, Croatia and Italy), my adorable Italian former roommate Ilaria (2 weeks in Milan and a long weekend in England) and the countless backpackers I met along the way where we travelled together for a few days before parting ways (you know who you are…I HEART you…and there are too many too name!)  

At some point I’ll upload a wide selection of photos to Picasa and send a link, but for now, here is a snapshot of my trip as I Star Jumped and Toyota Kicked across the world!