Yes, I am a white person that loves to travel. I didn’t stop chipping in commentary about my year abroad in France for…well…come to think of it, I still talk about it whenever I get the chance. If you include all of the separate countries in the United Kingdom (click here for an enlightening video on what that is actually defined to be), and quasi-countries such as Monaco and the Cayman Islands, my countries-visited count is up to 17. I’d venture to guess that this total is higher than that of the average 22 year old American. Approximately 40 million Americans – only about 13.3% of the population – traveled outside of the country in 2010 (an very rough estimate that I hastily concluded from looking at the Office of Travel & Tourism Industries website).
It was recently brought to my attention why this might be that I have a tendency to want to travel. My mother was raised on Long Island in New York. As kids, my brother and I benefited from having family on the East Coast, taking trips back to New York and to Florida, where my stereotypically New Yorker grandparents had retired to. The story goes like this: my mom got her AA from a 2-year college, then went to Buffalo, where she could do a beer bong faster than anyone (according to her siblings; she has neither confirmed nor denied this), and suffered through some “Great Blizzard.” Apparently, that blizzard did her in (and maybe the beer bong too), because soon after graduating, she dropped everything and moved across the country to San Francisco, with nothing but $100 in her pocket and a dream in her heart.
Okay, so she had chronic health problems and I’m pretty sure she lived at the YMCA for a while…how Pursuit of Happyness of her, right? But the former story is the one that I remember being told as a kid. And apparently, it stuck with me. I picked to attend one of the furthest to reach colleges I was accepted to, and studied for a year in France. Nothing would thrill me more than to try out living on the East Coast next.
But as I think more about my family’s past, I realize it isn’t just on my mom’s side that my family has a penchant for not staying put.
My dad’s parents grew up in small towns in Iowa…cue the farmer jokes. But after meeting in college (side note: how awesome is my grandma for going to college back in the days of secretaries & housewives?!), the couple graduated, married, and headed west to California. They lived in the Bay Area for most of my Dad’s childhood, and remain there to this day. In their retirement, they’ve traveled to every continent except Antarctica and Australia, and reserve each winter for a motor-home trip to their favorite spot along the coast in Mexico.
Not only do I have adventurers on both sides of my family, but I’ve got two different types: some who travel for leisure, and some who have the courage to take the plunge and dive into a new surrounding. Travel and trying new experiences is clearly a value that my family holds close, which is something I haven’t come to appreciate until now.
Maybe this is why it has been so hard for me to move back into my childhood home… I need to seek out unfamiliar territory; it’s in my DNA.