When I began traveling
the world almost 3
decades ago, none of my family or friends understood why I chose this
vagabond lifestyle. Other than my father, who wished he could have gone with me,
most everyone else wanted a stay-in-one-place manner of living that focused on
barbeques, Super Bowl parties, pets and gardens.
Initially on my journeys, especially since we began them long before internet, Skype,
or online travel forums, there was this seeming disconnect. I was “long distance” and everyone else
was together “back home.”
Our trusty packs were a Christmas present
These days, things are
Billy and I
normally travel a year between our visits to the States
to see our
loved ones. That’s a long time and lots of celebrations between seeing our
family and friends face-to-face. To bridge that
distance in time, I call their homes several times a month using Skype
and video. In this way, no one forgets what I look like, including my
grandniece and nephew. I watch as the decorations in their homes change,
their gardens grow and I’m there singing Happy Birthday or shouting
Merry Christmas or Happy Anniversary as the pages on my calendar turn
When I visited the
States a few years ago, I realized that no one there could relate to the
perspective I had been nurturing for decades in my world travels. The U.S. is a
developed nation so there were no donkeys in the streets. And there were no indigenous walking
the neighborhoods with baskets of wood or hand woven textiles on their heads. There were no food carts where I could purchase fresh fruit or
grilled shrimp on a whim, either.
So I gathered about 300
photos of my wanderings, put them on a chip and purchased digital photo frames
to display them in continuous rotation. My family was amazed – or maybe speechless is a better word.
Not everyone writes
Not everyone enjoys
writing letters, emails or sending postcards. However, every person I know likes to
Since I am a writer - and always have been since I was a grade
school child wishing I could find a pen pal - I have taken this responsibility
on. And, it is one of the ways I keep in touch. Any chance I get, I write an
email and tell a story about my life, and of course, I ask about theirs. Or I
send a post card made from one of our photos giving a full-and-in-color snapshot of where I have been.
Since I carry everything
with me when I travel, in the old days, my family was initially stumped as to
what to give me for gifts. It was an uncomfortable kink in the transition from
an old pattern to my new one.
Now, you see, before I carry anything around the world with me I
must consider it in terms of value - versus its weight and the room it takes.
Today, digital downloads for music or reading material delight me because I can
carry it online instead of packing the heavy book or CD plus-case-in my
Technology has made this area of our lives much easier. And of course, my
family has adjusted to my world wanderings.
I have also been gifted
great walking shoes, washable and lightweight clothing, scarves, beach wraps,
earrings, socks and even nail polish. When I dress myself in the mornings I have
all these reminders of the love we share and I take them with me into my
lifestyle of skipping from one country to the next.
This shawl is a favored gift
While nothing replaces
being there in person for each occasion, I am psychologically built to enjoy
my life of movement. My friends and family are constructed for a lifestyle that I
would find constricting. So by wearing and using these gifts, I am able to carry my loved
ones with me everywhere.