Thursday, October 16, 2008

Looking Back. Looking Forward

Before the summer of 2005, I spent 5 years in St. Charles, Missouri. The biggest trips I took were family road trips to Colorado, Chicago and Nashville. Oh, and a week in New York City with the high school choir (we did sing in Carnegie Hall!). The summer of 2005 marked the beginning of my around the world travel and it’s been an addiction ever since, as if I am making up for lost time. Tonight, I watched all of my pictures since 2005 in a slideshow and my life literally flashed before my eyes.

I love my life.

Since 2005, I’ve lived a life without regrets and a life full of incredible experiences. Starting with an around the island tour of Taiwan, seeing old friends and families and eating amazing Taiwanese cuisines. Then, three weeks in Angers, France, soaking up the great French culture for the first time, and becoming a real wino. Roaming through the streets of Angers and danced with the French during its annual Fête de la Musique! Celebrating 4th of July in a French bar with Australian, Chinese, Mexican, Slovenian, French and American friends! Spending Sundays touring the châteaux of the Loire valley, soaking up the sun in Mont-Saint-Michael, St. Malo, and freezing my butt off in Normandy. Week in Brussels hanging with the EU MPs, eating delicious Belgium waffles, and basking in the diverse cultures this EU capital had to offer. Week in Paris – spending quality time alone discovering Picasso, the Louvre, and saw Paris from the top of l’Arc de Triomphe. Amazed at the Bastille Day firework with millions of Parisians, dabbled in the glamour of Champs-Elysées and getting lost in the garden of Versailles. Oh, can’t forget about crowding with tourists from around the world for 8 hours to see Lance Armstrong taking 10 seconds to cross the finish line of the 2005 Tour de France. Finally, accidentally ended up in London after being brought to the wrong airport by Jess, and thus began my love for London.

Returned to London in the fall of 2006 and had the best 4 months of my life. Explored the English countryside each week: Windsor, Oxford, Cambridge, Bath, Shakespeare’s house, Cantebury, palace after palace, fun after fun. Weekend trips to Berlin and Dublin with Ashley. 10-day excursion alone to Salzburg, Vienna and Venice. Ballets and operas at the Royal Opera House. Symphonies at the Royal Albert Hall. Birthday spent at the BBC Proms concert in Hyde Park. Daily breakfast in the embassy cafeteria with Jacquelyn. Weekly tea at the Ambassador’s house with Mrs. Ambassador. Endless number of Christmas party hosted by each department in the Embassy. Trade shows in the Docklands. Dinner next to the Thames. Personal late night tour of the City of London during the holiday season by Yuri. Tea with Jacquelyn at the French café in Kensington and roaming through the British Museum. Countless pints of ciders and pies had across bars of Greater London.

I couldn’t get enough of London and visited again during spring break 2007 and returned for the summer. Met Sarah during BUNAC orientation and began our travels through Brighton with the Swedish guy, around London, visiting her village of Aldberry and a rainy day in Oxford. My tiny but wonderful flat in Swiss Cottage with Dave. Our picnics on Primrose Hill and many nights spent after work near Liverpool Street. Charming Sunday roasts in the suburbs of London with Dave’s family. Summer movie at the Somnerset House with Yuri, dinner in Hampstead Heath and Little Venice. The jobs I had at Channel 4, at Euromoney, at Thompson Scientific, etc. Meeting Lisa for dinner near Bond Street and telling her about my constantly changed plan for life. Weekend in Ghent, Belgium with Dave right before returning to the US. That summer, I met great people who are just like me, with a wandering spirit and always ready to share travel stories and be instant best friends.

The travel didn’t stop after returning to the US. Long weekends in D.C. reuniting with Jacquelyn and Steve. Weeklong trip to Boston and New York City with my sister, visiting schools and Laura. Roadtrips to Mizzou to have toffee nut latte and blueberry muffin with Ashley one last time before we both move. Whirlwind trip to Hawaii with the family before heading to Philadelphia and then Cameroon.

Since summer of 2005, I have spent 150 hours on the airplane, and I loved every minute of it. I’ve felt in love, shed tears over the eternal bad timing, made lifelong friends across the globe, and life decisions that led to even crazier life decisions. My mother would say that 150 hours of airplane all came from money, and I would say that 150 hours gave me a lifetime of experience that money simply cannot buy. I look forward to another 150 hours on the airplane that’ll bring me to corners of the world yet visited and people yet met.

2 comments:

Megan said...

ABSOLUTELY ... what an amazing 3 years :)

When are you going to start writing a book? Your writing skills are really getting excellent. I love your style ....

Do it.

Mark Chmiel said...

You've already started writing a book! You filled an SJ notebook and now you've got these blogs (plus emails from travels past).

You make me think of Kerouac's maxim, "Be in love with yr life." So you are, and I am inspired by yr exuberance. You remind me of Mev...