I've been pondering how to write this for the last week or so, but the confusion intensified when I came across some pictures taken during a trip to Paris back in 1999. Yes, that's me in the photo below, cooling off outside the Louvre.
I have many photos and stories from that trip, so many years ago, that I would love to share with you. I also have so many stories from Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand and other spots I've been lucky enough to see. Then there are the tales from my recent trip to England, including the influx of Russian culture and cuisine to my hometown, and an expert-guided behind the scenes tour of the Ray Harryhausen exhibition in London. I am dying to tell you how safe Mexico is, and to share with you a New Year's Eve in an isolated Japanese country-western bar (think silver tassels and a bizarre rendition of "I Will Always Love You").
But a part of me feels like a fraud. Much of this has been triggered by my approaching 40th birthday, which has set me thinking about where I thought I would be by now. Fortunately, I realized that the corporate life was not for me and escaped before even entering it, disregarding career advice to become an accountant because it was a "nice secure job until I had kids". Instead, I have carved my own path, a curvy non-traditional path that has included travel, academia, teaching, coaching, and now writing. Along the way, I have experienced things that many never will, and for that I am ever grateful.
So why the fraud?
Part of that curvy path has included marriage (to a wonderful man who "gets" me), a mortgage, and two dogs. One of the consequences has been an inability to travel as much as I would have liked in recent years, or at least the inability to travel other than around the U.S. and home to England. Mexico was a pleasant exception.
So now I am feeling that I still have so many places to go and see, and I have been pondering ways to make that happen while still making space for husband's job (which keeps us tied to one location) and mortgage payments.
Over the last few weeks, Nic and I have been looking at ways for me to travel more and to see some of the things I have dreamed of: sunrise over the Ganges from a train on my way to Darjeeling, the Skeleton Coast of Namibia, the frescoes of Florence. It has been rather overwhelming to consider all the possibilities, until my ever-sensible hubby reminded me that I don't have to try and do it ALL in one trip.
In college, when we were wondering about our futures, one friend labelled me most likely to be found among the gorillas in Africa. My love for all things primate-related is the reason I visit the Aspinall parks back in England and spend hours watching the chimps and gorillas. It is the reason I read anything I can get my hands on by key anthropologists in the world of primatology. It is the reason Dian Fossey and Jane Goodall are my heroes, and why hearing Jane Goodall speak last year was an absolute highlight.
And so, that is the dream I am hoping to make reality within the next year or so. I am looking into several options, considering funding, potential for writing, and most importantly, potential for me to feel as if I am once more a true traveler. I am also considering some other temporary work options, which may come to fruition, but in the meantime, expect to see updates over the next few months as I investigate ways in which I can make my dream come true.