"When we contemplate the whole globe as one great dewdrop, striped and dotted with continents and islands, flying through space with other stars all singing and shining together as one, the whole universe appears as an infinite storm of beauty." (John Muir, Travels in Alaska)
Most Frequent Responses to
"I'm Quitting My Job and Traveling Around the World"
(In Order of Frequency)
Where are you going?
What are you doing?
What do your parents/ family think?
Are you going back to your job when you get back?
Did you save up a lot?
I wish I could this, that, or the other thing.
I went to this place when I was this many years old...
When are you coming home? or How long will you be away?
Notably absent from the list? "Why are you going?"
Rarely am I asked what could possibly possess me to sell all my stuff, quit my job, and leave my loved ones without so much as a forwarding address. Either people think I'm crazy, in which case no explanation is needed, or they think I'm taking off for a two year vacation, in which case no explanation is needed.
I'm not (that) crazy, and I don't believe in vacations.
The best, and perhaps only, explanation I have is that I'm curious. And the only way I know to satisfy curiosity is to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and do. I am particularly curious about the following topics and hope to explore them during my wanderings.
Religion & faith: I will be passing by some of the holiest places of the five major world religions, including my own and Dave's. I am interested in how religion is expressed in architecture, design, and urban form, and how faith (the personal version of religion) is expressed by individuals.
The natural environment: I'm a sucker for trees and flightless birds (squeeee!!!). I hope to encounter new (to me) species, and, by reading and researching, talking to people, and experiencing it for myself, learn about how those species interact in their ecosystems. I'm also interested in how humans influence or change the natural environment.
The secret, and not-so-secret, lives of women: I can tell you about being a 27-year old woman with 0 children and 1 college degree in New York State in 2009. Can you tell me about being a 27-year old woman with 2 children and 1 job in Manila in 2009?
Health & folk medicine: The way my country and my culture thinks about, promotes, and sells "health" is not the only way. I'm particularly interested in plant-based and/or traditional, "folk" medicine.
Children & the elderly: We begin as children, and we end as elderly. What do the place, role, and value of the young and old say about a culture?
Food & food systems: Food comes from somewhere. In New York State, I rarely know from where my food comes. I'm interested in how the food system works in other places, particularly in urban areas (this is an old academic interest of mine).
Maybe I'll learn about that stuff. Maybe I won't--maybe I'll learn about other stuff. That's where the "growth" part happens: being open to whatever comes my way, even if it's not what I think I want.
I was 16 years old when I first visited Ithaca. It was one of those crisp spring days--Ithacans, you know what I'm talking about--when the sky is blue and the trees are green and everyone walks around with stupid smiles on their faces, rapturously joyful at the temporary departure of the long, cold, grey Finger Lakes winter.
Photo from my first visit to Ithaca, 5/29/99
I moved to Ithaca the month after I turned 18, my parents' minivan packed to the roof with items my mother was sure I'd need (plastic storage boxes? aluminum foil?), unaware of that Cornell's East Hill weather machine produced perfect weather only for the 10 days of pre-frosh campus visits in the spring, and another 4 days for parents' weekend in the autumn. Bastards.
I was blissfully unaware.
Hiking in Treman as a freshman, 2000
I didn't think about or understand responsibility, relationships, or being an adult, or prioritizing what was important to me, or what was important to me, or how hard it can be to remain sane in an insane world. Hell, I even considered voting for George W. Bush in the 2000 election (what can I say--it was my first election--before 2000, donkeys and elephants were zoo animals!). In short, I was a kid.
I spent four years on The Hill.
The Arts Quad, 2003 (?)
Then I graduated. :-O
Unsure of where I could go and what I could do, I decided to roll down the hill to a little apartment on The Commons. I told myself that it would be just for a year for a little relaxation after so many years of schooling, and then I would... I didn't know. Build my life?
One year turned into two years turned into five years. I struggled and thrived and struggled a little more. Boyfriends came, stayed, and left. I invented myself, abandoned that, reinvented myself. The world spun madly on, bright blue spring skies giving way to the succulent greenness of summer, then the festival of autumn colors, then the greyscale of winter. Again and again.
Filmore Glen near Moravia, 2005
I wonder if anyone has a moment when they realize they are an adult, a full member of a community. I didn't, but after returning from Peru this spring I realized that I had a career--not just a "job"--and I had friends--not just drinking buddies--and I had a relationship and I gave directions to tourists and I recognized the same faces in Wegman's and I could list all the best hiking trails in the County and actually knew people on Common Council and also knew to leave town for graduation and move-in weekends, lest a wrong-way driver run me over on Seneca Street.
I had built a life. Or rather, I had built my life.
Peppers for sale at the Farmers' Market, 2006
I'm finally leaving Ithaca, just shy of 10 years here. I'll miss my adopted hometown. I'm leaving a lot behind:
Saturday morning breakfast burritos at the Ithaca Farmers' Market
Wegman's, where you can find anything. Anything.
The Lindseth climbing wall: so vertical, so slimy, so beloved
Scaring deer on a Sunday afternoon walk on the Black Diamond Trail
Saying "I've got nothing" at work (it's still funny)
Thursday Night Girls' Club
The lakehouse, even the Man Cave
The Tompkins County Public Library
My 7 (11, really) sycamores
Finger Lakes dry Riesling
Red-winged black birds in the marshes near the Inlet
Being reallyreallyreally excited to teach at COE
Not being the only woman not wearing makeup
Napping in the cargo net in Kate & Tim's climbing cave
Trying to answer the question, "How many buses does TCAT have?"
Sleeping in a hammock
Ithaca's one million festivals
Cocoa Bean Supertramp & Biggie Smalls, two of my favorite felines
Ithaca's 15 minute rush "hours"
Riding my bike
Complaining about the weather but secretly enjoying it
The last ten years have made me who I am. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Ithaca, 2000-2010.