To my parents who taught me how to appreciate a good adventure,
When I was a little girl, you brought me here and there; place after place. You took me hiking in National Parks, and snorkeling off the coast of Mexico. You took me to Las Vegas in the heat of summer, and and the boardwalk of Ocean City, Maryland. You took me paragliding in California, and tubing through the jungle of Belize. You took me to the black sand beaches of Hawaii, and horseback riding through the desert of Utah. Perhaps it is not so strange that now, as an adult, I’ve found comfort in adventure and the exploration of new places.
Through the years, I explored the globe by your side. I watched as you showed me how to take care of myself as I, too, make my way through the world. You’d blast Tom Petty or Norah Jones in the car as we drove across the country, and my bratty preteen self would beg you to stop singing along as you showed your uninhibited self. I didn’t realize just how paramount these moments would be and how much they would determine my future.
You showed me that even if you get lost somewhere in the middle of Mexico City, that there is always a way. You showed me that it’s okay to splurge on non necessities sometimes, that happiness shouldn’t be thought of in terms of cost.
Starting around age ten, I began daydreaming about the city lights of Paris and the history that embodied Rome. Images of the frothy waves hitting the beach and clouds shaped like animals filled my mind as I sat in school learning about long division, watching the seconds tick by. I learned from you that while a proper education is important, nothing compares to the education you receive through a life of travel.
My whole life I’ve struggled trying to fit into a world that values uniformity, obedience, and routine. It started when I was in elementary school, taking standardized state exams. It continued when I strayed from the “typical” path at age twenty and moved across the world without a completed college degree; the judgement relentless.
While everyone was busy telling me I was throwing my life away, I was busy thinking of you; thinking of you in that white van singing at the top of your lungs as you showed me what true courage looks like. You showed me that even if everyone tries to hinder your happiness, you must keep going even stronger than before.
I noticed that tinge in your heart as I walked away from you at the airport, headed for a life across the world from your arms that could keep me safe. I was headed on my own adventure, but this time without you. You weren’t going to be there to help me cross the street, or to make sure someone wasn’t trying to hurt me. For the first time in both of our lives, we had to face the fact that I was totally alone. For me, this was liberating. For you, this was scary as hell. Your little girl had to adventure on without you.
This, above all else, is what I’d like to thank you for. Thank you for allowing me to explore without inhibition. Thank you for understanding my need to see this world in all of its glory (even if it does worry you!) and thank you, for being the original adventurer who showed me just how it’s done.
Love now and always,
Your little adventurer