So, one of the reasons I wanted to start a blog was to document our family’s plan for world travel. Travel is such an important part of my life (my middle third especially) and I want to share it with our kids and create new memories in new places today. My fear has been that writing about something that has not yet happened is a bit out-of-order, cart before the horse, so to speak. My fear would wash up inside and worry about being named as a non-doer, someone with all talk and no action and a tiny fear of superstition. If I write about it will it not happen.
Where do all these worries come from? My inner critics pushing their particular voice forward, reminiscing about previous times in my life when I struggled and when I failed and taking those moments and shoving them forward in my mind as if to show me.
“See, you can’t do this. You’re a fool to say these things out loud. Someone will reveal that you have failed in the past. Don’t involve others in your dreams until they are real and countable.”
So, my own expectations are tangled with worry, fear, excitement, hope, joy, trepidation and uneasiness. My point of this blog is to explore the challenge of having really high expectations dashed by reality unfolding. However, this is not a blog about holding back our dreams, choosing the slow and safe lane, redirecting our wants toward the loudest naysayers opinion.
I have already made a lot of choices in my life that were non-conventional at the time. Traveling, studying and living overseas for a collective five years of my life didn’t match the norm of my contemporaries. At no point in those travels did I regret being where I was.
Yes, I struggled at times, feeling extraordinarily lonely and
left with only myself for company.
Which sometimes my own company was not great awash with some self-defeating judgements or thoughts. However, I didn’t try to come back ‘home’. I tried to figure out what was happening and how to make it a little bit better. Often hoping to make it much, much better.
Ironically, those moments are the ones I learned the most from. I think particularly about my time living and working in Hong Kong in 1993-1994. Yes, what seems like a lifetime ago. I arrived in this big, neon city with my Dad as he had me connected to a business partner of his to do some work. We flew business class. I think it might have been the first time I had spent 11 hours sitting next to my Dad.
While flying into Hong Kong, I remember the how close the plane was to the buildings in the city as we circled to land at the airport. To me, the buildings looked like hundreds of matchboxes tipped up on their ends balancing precariously next to each other, almost feeling like I was looking at Dominos on a table top. My worry was that one might fall over. Looking back, I may have been reflecting what I felt inside myself.
I had willingly left my safe haven back in the States to move to a new place. This wasn’t a new move for me. At this point in my life, I had left my home country for foreign places several times but, landing in Western Europe each time. There, I could find a way for my caucasian self to blend in with my English and weak Dutch. I could be on a train and most would be none the wiser until I ordered a coffee, even then I could tilt and soften my accent to draw away from my American self identifiers.
In Hong Kong, I wasn’t going to blend in. I was, what my co-workers later told me was ,a ‘gweilo’. A ghost face. I could try to mix in but, my skin, eye color, the general way I held my body and my illiteracy in the various Chinese languages showed me for who I was, a stranger in a strange place.
Yet, I so wanted to blend in. When I travel, I am one to carefully hold the map inward, cautious to avoid too much attention. I want to be in step with and nearly anonymous in the community I am exploring. One to one, I don’t mind meeting new people and, actually, quite love it but, I don’t want to be painted with the brush or spotlight of FOREIGNER where ever I go.
I was acutely aware of the ‘ugly American’ that would travel about the world, bumbling into people, cultures, languages, cuisine without an awareness of or care about the ripple effect of their wake. I may have kept to the shadows to my own detriment at times. As in Hong Kong, I found it not only very hard to blend in but, also to make friends. I didn’t connect to the ex-pat community. Back then there was no internet, Facebook, email list to join so I could safely explore my options in the comfort of my own computer before walking in a room and hoping to make a friend. I also didn’t want to make friends only with foreigners in this strange place with me. It would have probably helped a lot but, I was stubborn. I wanted to find my own way. And it turned out to be a very lonely path.
That Hong Kong travel experience was one of my darkest but, it taught me a lot. I can get through things. Most everything is in motion and we don’t get to stand in one place for very long. I look at my own kids and see that. Are they really seven and nine? What happened? The hard times move on and the good times move on. What we have control over is maneuvering ourselves towards better, healthier, happier times. This doesn’t always work as we don’t control anything but, ourselves. However, perhaps we can point ourselves in the direction we want to go. Like a boat on a stream…there are plenty of obstacles but, we can navigate.
My husband and I are preparing to navigate ourselves into the greater world outside of our comfort zone in Portland, Oregon with our kids in tow. We want more experiences, unpredictable and hopefully, joyful. Yes, we will experience heartache, frustration, headaches and differing opinions but, we will be living and learning. We plan on leaving on a year-long journey in August 2017. What comes here is further exploring, planning and navigation of our life and dreams. Please stay tuned.