Recently a dear family friend of ours lost her cancer battle. It was especially upsetting because she had been diagnosed less than a year ago. I could write an entire article about the role she played in our life, but suffice it to say she was such a gentle and kind soul who made an impact on so many.
Most of our conversations over the last several months had centered on her trip to Europe she had taken last summer and our recent trip to Rome in March. Both were big deals. For her, it was her trip back to where she was born. She loved every minute of reconnecting with her family in Germany. Her favorite city was Paris. She didn’t fall in love with Rome, but was super excited when we told her we were going to surprise our parents with a trip there. She wanted us to tape the surprise reveal when my mom, who had never flown overseas, would find out she would have to finally have to face her fear of flying over an ocean. When we returned, she asked a million questions. She shared her pictures and stories and we shared ours. These last conversations, along with the numerous kindnesses she graced us with over the years, are how we are going to remember her.
When we found out she passed and began reminiscing, the conversation turned to a discussion about what we thought it was in our background was that has led us to make travel such a major part of our life.
When we were kids, we went to the beach nearly every summer. We loved these trips. I remember being so excited to be back playing in the sand, visiting the latest restaurants, catching sand crabs and staying out for late night beach walks. I also remember being so excited when we were finally old enough to get in a jacuzzi at the condo we usually stayed in.
We were definitely born with a love of the water, but we yearned to discover more landscapes. We grew up in a small city, but had dreams of seeing the world’s largest. Our first trip to a major city was to Atlanta to attend the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. We had a blast riding the MARTA and exploring different restaurants and neighborhoods. We were sad to leave and bugged our parents to take us back over and over again.
We are certain that it was our maternal grandmother who unknowingly made us fall in love with the idea of traveling around Europe. We didn’t know anyone growing up that traveled as much as she did. We loved looking at her pictures and listening to her stories. She took a cruise to Alaska the summer before she passed away and it’s been on our list since.
It was our grandfather that introduced me to photography. He collected cameras and enjoyed taking us on road trips to take pictures. He bought me my first camera and is responsible for me taking an interest again as an adult.
Unfortunately, my grandfather got sick during our sophomore year of high school. It forced my grandmother to find replacements for a trip to Greece and Turkey she had paid for. Tara and I were the lucky ones that got to take their place. It was a trip with mostly teachers at the high school we attended, who took on the responsibility of keeping an eye on us. It was a bit overwhelming for a lot of reasons. It was a trip of a lot of firsts-our first flight, our first overseas trip, our first cruise, first time away from home for longer than a few days. It was a lot do take in, but we were hooked.
We saw pictures of a trip our grandmother and uncles had taken one summer to Colorado. The pictures decorated our house because it was the last trip my grandmother had taken with her son before he passed. We were ecstatic when we found out the summer before our Senior year in college we were actually going. We spent a week in Lyons with family and took some amazing day trips. To this day, Colorado holds a special place in our heart as it turned out to be the last trip we had taken with our grandmother.
Today, we travel for those we’ve lost. For they are who continue to inspire us. We travel for those that can’t, for those that are afraid, those that need guidance to plan their next adventure and for those that can’t wait to hear our stories. We travel to escape the mundane of our work life, to discover what’s around the next corner. We travel to continue to build confidence and self-assurance. We travel to keep learning, growing and moving forward.
Although we often choose to travel together, we are two very different people with very different personalities. Travel has taught us sacrifice, compromise and patience, which has grown to make us even closer. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to have shared so many experiences with our best friend by our side. We look forward to the next great adventures, including our parents in some more trips, for they are who initially provided us with opportunities to travel.
Do you ever reflect on how your past has shaped your reasoning for traveling to a destination or made travel a priority in your life?