So, this a thing.
Actually, it's a map of a summer.
Our summer, to be precise. This summer.
All those little red dots? That's where we're going, if all goes according to plan.
I've been knowing those dots only as possibilities over the last several months, turning them like delicate china dolls in my head when it's late and I'm awake and Austin's already asleep. So, because I'm a visual person and because I haven't quite soaked up the fact that all this travel is actually taking place before the beginning of August, I did a quick Google Map search.
A few clicks later, there they were:
Interlaken. Minneapolis. Paris. Branson. Other places. I won't bore you.
14 destinations, in total.
I am broadly titling this post about movement, because this is the most moving I've ever done in my life, and because it's easier (and truer) than "We're that One Couple Who Gets to Vacation in Europe!" or "What are You Doing with YOUR Summer?" or "Can I Get Some Affirmation for My Experiences Abroad?" (Actually though, can I?)
I want to be real with you about all this; to add some context to the traveling, if I may.
I'll let you in on a secret: Those red dots are daunting.
I think (because I've seen it done before) that travelers from my age demographic can tend to glamorize cross cultural experiences like they're scenes from Eat, Pray, Love and forget to mention that it took any effort at all to VISIT A CHALET IN SWITZERLAND.
Maybe that's a Tumblr/Pinterest/Blog problem more than a real person-to-person problem. Maybe in conversation across the table with all these wanderlusts, they wouldn't hide the fears that they packed right beside their passports. When I book hostels and pin packing tips to my Pinterest board, I lose sight of reality a little bit, I'm sure.
But lest you get the wrong idea, here's the brass tax:
-I only parle un peu du Francais. (Translation: I, an uncultured American, will need beaucoup d'assistance from French people.)
-Apparently our hard-earned money, the little nest egg we built through extra jobs and less adventures over the past year, isn't as strong as well-established European money. I thought Apple Inc. and Chipotle and J. Crew and other starlets of American commerce were supposed to be changing all that, but apparently not in time for our trip. So, we're scurrying to find out how to travel off of one meal a day (not including gelato, of course) and I'm letting go of the notion that French perfume is a truly necessary souvenir.
-Austin's passport came in the mail, and the U.S. Government spelled his last name "Tanncus." Tann. Cus. As if he needed more reason than a Syrian last name to stand out to Interpol.
-I have no choice but to release control over all of this, because as evidenced above, things inevitably will go wrong.
All movement requires release. In the midst of our summer adventures, we're also moving apartments (because why not add that to the mix?) and yesterday I was overcome with a sudden urge to cleanse. To start surrendering the things that we don't really need and haven't really used, though they were given to or obtained by us at one time for good reasons.
You can't move with a heavy load on your back, or on your bookshelves.
My residents at Gordon were good teachers in this as they filled the hallways with plastic tubs and piles of whatever they're holding dear to during this season of college life (which according to the guys on my floor are Nerf guns and clothing hangers). I beheld their stress last weekend, and I remembered it well. I remembered peering into half-packed crates from Target and asking:
Where the heck did all this stuff come from?
Only movement can makes us aware of how tightly we've clung, how frequently we insist upon stuff in order to properly exist, and how quickly junk can slip onto the shelves unnoticed. This summer, in order to move, I've got to let go.
I've used the expression "I left my heart in (insert cherished locale here)," as a reminder that certain places can still mean the world to us, even when we don't pitch our tents there anymore. That's how I think of Kansas City, my hometown and yet another red dot on the map above. In the context of this summer, I also take that phrase to mean that we are people who need to discard; that we can shrug off all-well-and-good ways of being in order to reach for something beyond our borders.
I think I'm ready to leave some parts of myself on the cobblestones of Florence, under the neon lights of Branson, and everywhere in between.
Not because those parts didn't matter or serve me well, but because it's been a long, cold winter here in Massachusetts, and I'm ready to get moving.