“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” - Lao Tzu
After two years of planning, saving, and questioning every life decision I ever made, I’m finally here! In less than an hour I will board my plane to Faro, Portugal… the first city in my year long expedition across the world! Words alone cannot fully communicate my excitement.
It’s a feeling only something like “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” can capture.
Even after an emotional goodbye with my parents, I'm surprisingly calm as I sit at my gate. Normally these moments are filled with terror and sadness as I fully realize everything I'm leaving behind. These feelings were readily apparent right before I moved to Austin, Milan, and New York, but are completely absent this time around. It's especially odd considering I have only a vague idea of where my hostel is located and no clue as to how to get from the airport to the city center.
…I think the hostel is near a park.
I’ve been so focused on making sure everything was in order back home, that it wasn’t until I left for the airport that I realized I should probably download a map of Faro. At this point, I'm just hoping one of the airports I pass through has free wifi so I can do some research beforehand.
I’d be happy to just know how to say “Hello, do you speak English?” in Portuguese.
Regardless, I’m not too concerned. While this may be the first time I land in a city that I know nothing about, it certainly won’t be the last. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it, but until then, I’d rather take in the view and enjoy this feeling of anticipation.
The terminal at Bush Intercontinental Airport is oddly empty. Considering the chaos I have come to expect from years of flying out of New York, it feels a little strange. It’s a beautiful, happy day and the sky is full of large cumulus clouds. I sit overlooking the planes outside the terminal as the bright sun bears down on me through the enormous floor-to-ceiling windows; its warmth soothes away any tension and worries I may have. Outside, the numerous dirty, beat up little baggage carts scurry around like ants in a colony; prepping the planes for departure and hauling luggage to and from the terminal.
Off in the distance, two employees chat by one of the mobile conveyor belts while another paces back and forth talking on his walkie-talkie. One by one, I watch as the planes pull back from their respective gates, each bound for an unknown destination around the world. I can feel the excitement surge within me knowing that it will soon be my turn. The thought alone brings a goofy adolescent smile to my face.
While onlookers stare at me perplexed, wondering what the hell is wrong with me… and why am I taking so many selfies.
In the chair opposite me lies my backpack. It is the sum of all my material possessions - all packed into a single 40L backpack. That’s it. This small bag will be my best friend for the next 12 months and I’m excited to see how it holds up. More than anything, I can’t wait to prove to everyone that you don’t need much to travel!
As I take in the view, the Tiesto remix of John Legend’s song "All of Me" repeats again and again in my head. I’ve heard it played on the radio more times that I care to count, and it will forever be associated with this interim month I spent in Texas.
My time in the "burbs" has been filled with nothing but happiness and I am thankful to have spent such an extended time with family. Every morning for the last month I've woken up grateful that I don't have to spend my day confined to a cubicle. Even with all of the wonderful farewell lunches with friends and my brother’s stellar graduation from UT, the biggest surprise of the month came during a cruise with my father and brother.
When I initially planned my departure to Portugal, I recall debating if I should schedule my flight for immediately after the cruise, or postpone it a week to give myself some extra time. I had an innate feeling that a preverbal “wrench” would be thrown into my plans at the last minute, so I chose the latter.
I've never made a better decision in my life.
While onboard the cruise I had the pleasure of crossing paths with a remarkably intriguing woman. Much to my family's detriment, we were inseparable during, and for a few days following, the cruise. She was easily the best distraction I could have possibly hoped for, and I’m immensely glad I gave myself the extra week.
Naturally, Murphy’s Law would have it that I meet such a person two weeks before I leave the country.
It's been years since I encountered another person who I could talk with for hours on end, and while our time was limited, I'm grateful to have spent it in her company. It was the greatest surprise I’ve come across in quite a while and one which will not soon be forgotten.
When all is said and done though, I'm thankful for my time in Texas and immensely excited about the year that lies ahead of me. I can’t believe this has finally come to fruition. My unbridled enthusiasm and inexplicable desire to travel constantly reminds me of the old Calvin & Hobbes comic strips I use to read as a child. The lovable characters fascinated me and the strangely advanced vocabulary always provided a welcome challenge.
Thanks to the comics, I was the only 10 year old at my school who knew what it meant to "transmogrify" something.
What I've always loved and admired about these comics was Calvin’s adventurous attitude toward life and his wondrous curiosity about the world around him. I’ve noticed that people tend to lose these values as they age, yet they are somehow pre-programed into every child at birth. These ideals are an integral part of Calvin & Hobbes and, in my opinion, the most precious personality traits a person can hold.
I've read every single Calvin & Hobbes comic Watterson ever published, but my favorite strip has always been the very last one. It's a wonderfully simple strip, yet captures everything the comic stood for. Now that my travels have officially begun, I feel there is no better way to end my first post than with a quote from this memorable comic.
"It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy... Let's go exploring!