Thursday, July 15, 2010
ragazze che si perdono * girls that get lost
On the topic, check out this one blog post by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution here.
Thinking of my own travels as a young woman: Did disasters befall me? Yes. But nothing major. Did I make some poor decisions? Yes. Here and there. Did I hop onto a Vespa with a stranger (albeit a gorgeous Italian)? (Ms. Giarrusso recalls a girl doing so while participating in a study abroad program she too was a part of). Well, I did. And I fell in love with him too. Do I regret it? Not at all. Did I buy a Vespa of my own, to drive around the crazy streets of Italy? Yep. And I had a few accidents too, which I survived with scratches and bruises. Did I get lost? All the time.
I made a few more questionable choices: I dove into the Red Sea of Egypt, with just a bikini and a flashlight. I hitchhiked. A few times (in the company of friends, though, never alone). I lost my way - in the West Bank. I slept in a room, on the floor, with 30 or so other complete strangers (yet again, a good friend of mine). I jumped off cliffs, into the Mediterranean. I climbed a mountain in rickety sandals. I had a seance with a witch doctor in Africa. I scuba dived alongside hammerheads.
But no one ever hurt or harmed me. 99.9 percent of the world is not a sociopath, and you can't hide in a closet trying to avoid that .01%. In fact, most people welcomed me warmly and were eager to share their culture with me, young and old. Even the hammerheads were kind - or at least they were oblivious to me!
Besides that, travel gave me the chance to to live history and languages, really know other cultures, to really know myself. And there is much joy in sitting at a cafe overlooking Piazza Navona watching the world go by, window shopping with a Bertillon glace en main, around the Ile St. Louis, hiking up Masada and arriving at the break of dawn, to see the sun rise over the Dead Sea and then coming back down to float in it, slathering yourself in mud at the shores. Swimming in an emerald lit grotto; exploring a lonely hill town. To wander. Alone. At your own pace. With your own thoughts.
I tell my husband now that he'll never have to worry about me running off to Eat, Pray or Love, because I already ate a ton of pasta and gelato and pizza in Italy, I already prayed a lot around the Holy Land, and well, I never went to Bali, but I did fall in love with a Brazilian (and married him, to boot).
I am so thankful for my parents who let me go and even came to visit me. They listened to my adventures and only encouraged me to follow my heart, without ever really saying so, rather through their actions and support.
The point is that disasters can befall young woman whether they stay home or not. And the world is too wonderful to miss, or worse, to be afraid of. Let's face it: travel is best when one is young and unencumbered - and the safety and security of a tourbus filled with other Americans or Mom and Dad, or a head filled with worries about paying the bills at home, hinders exploration and connection. For this reason, I hope to someday see my daughter off at O'Hare, whereupon, with much effort, I'll too swallow my tears and offer up the best smile and waves goodbye I can muster, wishing her only many happy trails.