Returning.

01.07.09

11:38 a.m.  Houston Intercontinental Airport

I’m sitting at gate A15, watching Continental Express propeller planes take off.  Houston’s skies are covered in a thin layer of gray and white clouds and only flecks of blue are poking their way through.  I’m flying Delta, and the plane is not yet here even though it’s supposedly on time.  Also, it’s overbooked.  Packed.  Ugh.  Why do airlines do this?  It’s so miserable for the passengers, and yet, we keep coming back for more.  We keep needing to get from point A to point B, and we keep putting up with horrible service and discomfort.

After being in the U.S. a month, I’m ready to return to Europe.  This time, I’m ready for an adventure through Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and (because I’m an addict now) a bit of France.  First stop: Zürich.  Peter has been in Germany a month now after a trip to the Holy Lands (Israel/Palestine), and I can’t wait to be reunited with my husband.  When we started planning this year of travel and adventure, we knew that there would be periods of time when we would be separated, but I don’t know if we thoroughly thought through how difficult it would be after awhile.  I’m tired of going to bed alone, of waking up alone, of making my own coffee.  I feel like I’ve been missing an appendage that I am now going to retrieve.  I’ve operated just fine on, say, one leg, but I sure miss the other.  I’m surprised by how much work it is to be single, and while I know I’m perfectly capable of doing it, I’m beginning to remember why it is that people play the love-hunting game with all their strength.  It’s hard out there by yourself…

And yet, sometimes that realization escapes me when I travel.  Is it because I am busy meeting people?  Is it because I am busy staying alive?  All my effort is toward making it through to the next moment, the next meal, the next day.  It’s intensified living– and that’s why I love it so much.

So, off I go on another adventure.  This flight goes to Atlanta.  In Atlanta, I catch my long flight to Zürich.  After Zürich, I head to Munich to reunite with Peter.  And maybe, I’ll be reunited with the piece of my heart that I previously left behind.  We’ll see…

Today is the other day that I knew would eventually come, but I didn’t expect to feel quite the way I do as I sit in my window seat and look at the Swiss countryside fading beneath me.

This is the end of the first of three trips I will make to Europe over the next year.  But this is the only one that I have done largely on my own, without my husband or a particular traveling partner beside me.  I have chosen where to go when and with whom.  I have figured out train schedules and fares, restaurant menus and tips, and places to sleep and visit.  I have made friends with Germans and French people, Spaniards and Swiss.  And I leave this Continent with more of a sense of self than I had when I first stepped foot here back in that warm April day in Barcelona.

I learned, for starters, about the sorts of things that irritate me, both about myself and about others.  Traveling brings out people’s rough edges, those things we can safely set to the side when we’re at home.  I learned that my edges revolve around my fears and loneliness.  If I feel lonely or isolated, I tend to get more quickly annoyed with others than I ordinarily would.  And if I feel afraid or threatened in any way, I have a hard time admitting it to others or dealing with the war that wages in my head over shoulds and shouldn’ts.

I went for a long walk last night by myself through the vineyards and paths of Rivaz and the surrounding Swiss villages.  I was indeed alone, but I felt like I was on a walk with the Creator of it all.  I took my time strolling around, watching the incredible sunset over the Alps reflecting its colors on the surface of the water.  I could feel my tired body getting more tired by the minute, but I pushed myself further and further.  If there’s anything that I have learned about myself, it’s that I can indeed be pushed to limits that I never would have approached before– I can survive narrowly being pick-pocketed, I can figure out how to get from one place to another (even in a language I don’t speak!), I can power hike up a mountain to enjoy a quick but life-giving view, I can not let a rainy day ruin my enjoyment of beauty.

After this flight lands in Newark, I’ll be greeted by my husband who has been busy packing the belongings we’ve accumulated over the past three years of marriage.  In three days, we will both graduate as Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.  And in a week, we’ll be turning over the keys to our apartment– the only home we’ve known together– as we embark on the next adventures laid out before us.  Peter will be traveling to Israel and Palestine.  He’ll then travel to Germany, where, in one month, I will meet him for another month of travel.  I am eager to return to the U.S., where my husband and family call home, but I know that I leave a piece of my heart behind in Europe.  I hope that I can find it when I return.

Until then…

Adventure seeker on an empty street

Just an alley creeper, light on his feet

A young fighter screaming, with no time for doubt

With the pain and anger can’t see a way out

It ain’t much I’m asking, I heard him say

Gotta find me a future move out of my way

I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now…

Genesis.

22.04.09

I have loved traveling since the very first time my parents strapped me into an airplane seat.  Our destination was Anchorage, Alaska, and I was six years old.  My father worked for the now defunct Eastern Airlines, and we hopped on a standby flight from Salt Lake City.  By the end of the flight, I was best friends with the grandmotherly woman sitting beside me and the over-eager-with-the-little-ones stewardess (they were still “stewardesses” in 1987).

I caught the travel bug, and my wallet has been trying to cure me of it ever since.  Largely, it has failed.

And so I find myself now at the ripe-and-ready age of 28, road-tripping and world-traveling at every chance I get.  My ongoing existence is proof that one does not need oodles of money or good fortune to continue feeding this passion.

I have traveled to or through 37 of the 50 United States, 8 Mexican cities, 6 European countries, and one Canadian province.  Paltry perhaps for someone deciding to write about her travels.  But, I have to start somewhere.  So I’ll start here, on a wordpress blog, writing about my adventures.  And, more than likely, I will babble a bit about other stuff, too.  I do hope you enjoy.

Love, TB