WHY YOU SHOULD WANDERLUST IN YOUR 20'S
My mom wasn’t 20, she was 19 I believe. But close enough. This is her and her best friend wander-lusting back in 1967. Or maybe it was 68. Hawaii, in the 60’s. Can you imagine how instagram worthy this was? But forget about instagram. That wasn’t on her radar. Nor was the term wanderlust. Adventure was more like it. Freedom. And she says, looking back, this season of her life was one of her most favorites. I couldn’t agree with her more about my own. And here’s why.
THE WONDER YEARS
Growing up for my mom was beautiful in all its vivid color. It was equally uncommonly tough. I could essentially write a biography on her behalf of what it was like, the ups, the downs and everything in between. But maybe another time. For now, let me just say that the juxtaposition of happy and sad in her life is a very intense subject. Or was, rather. She’d tell you the same. But growing up, especially in her early teen years taught her the very concrete and paramount lessons for most of life. Lesson 1: choose joy.
Not really sure where I first heard that term, but after having martinis with Mom one evening last year, I learned the very black and white reason one chooses Joy. To feel it. To feel joy and experience it rather than to wish for it and rest on your laurels. When she met my Dad in the 1960’s, her life had been through a series of events that were not abc sitcom noteworthy. It was tough, grueling, and incredibly difficult. That night when we had martini’s she told me that when she walked into my Dad’s house for the first time, she said “You could see the joy everywhere. It was palpable. You could feel it. I said to myself, I want to feel this. I want to have this kind of joy.” Period. This lesson and the ones that followed were a series of learning to experience that joy. As much as possible. Minute by minute, hour by hour, year by year. Creating it every chance she could. Somewhere in or around this time began that joyride, and in it was the desire to travel.
Women did it differently in the 60’s. They married a little younger. And despite the massive love affair Mom and Dad had going on that was all the things despite them only being around 17 or 18 years old, Mom didn’t want to get married straight away. Dad did. But Mom wanted to explore her wanderlust. ALONE. When Dad wanted to marry her, she said I love you, but she knew she needed to go out and see a little of the world without him. She had that female intel to go explore. To pack her bags. To get lost. To live. Dad couldn’t stop her and didn’t want to. I think deep down he knew she’d come back and marry him. And he was right.
Let’s be honest, you’re not married, till you’re married. Fact. There’s nothing like wheels up and flying into the blue sky by yourself (or with a friend) into the unknown. Meeting strangers. Following your wanderlust. Trust me, take it from a mother of 3. Flying into the wild wild unknown is the most free you can get. It’s like a freedom you don’t know until you do it. Like when I was 21 and stepped off the plane in Paris and didn’t know a soul and was frightened because my best friend (who was living there at the time) was late to pick me up. The adrenaline rush of the time change, culture change and genuine innocence of a girl’s first time in France was mesmerizing. And intoxicating. From that first moment of sharing a cab ride with my friend to learning to speak french from the cab driver, to arriving to downtown Paris and buying wine and cheese on the corner shop and laying down in Luxembourg park in the sunshine while making friends with strangers. To be honest, I took it a little for granted. Looking back, to be young and in love with strangers underneath the Eiffel tour was more than one of the best trips of my life. It was one of the greatest adventures of my unmarried life.
THE STRANGERS YOU MEET
Mom met Elvis that year in Hawaii. Yep. Elvis’ right hand man gave Mom and her bestie all the love. They met, took pictures, chatted it up and then some. They even got an invite back to Elvis’ suite where there was a party. Mama didn’t make it that far. Meeting Elvis was the cake and eating it too. And to be honest. She’s right. Elvis Presley. Can you imagine? I’m like, what? That’s the thing. You never know what experience you’ll have until you go and experience it. Some of my favorite times in life were the strangers I met. From celebrities (yes Leo DiCaprio and Pee Wee Herman helped me celebrate my 30th birthday), to meeting a random handsome American at a coffee shop in Paris, to learning Arabic from another group of randoms while watching the world cup in Barcelona, the strangers you meet become the icing on the cake. And all of a sudden, in the middle of my kitchen on a Tuesday night, I’m super nostalgic.
EXPERIENCE IS YOUR GREATEST TEACHER
Learning to navigate the world in your younger years is paramount. It’s a lesson in life I couldn’t encourage enough. Just walking through New York City on a summer day is intoxicating. Learning the Avenues, the streets, the trains, the villages, it’s all so overwhelming. But when you’re young and have nowhere to be, this is the very sweet spot (if you’re lucky enough to land in), that will teach you and give you experiences that will change the trajectory of your life. It’s true. All the experience of the world is indeed your greatest teacher. It will lead you all sorts of places that introduce new versions of yourself, to yourself. And that’s wild. And awesome.
ANYWHERE BUT HOME
It doesn’t have to be the Eiffel tower. Or the streets of Rome. It can be the great wide open. The rivers of Colorado. The Grand Canyon and a couple of sandwiches. Sleepless in Seattle. Bike riding through the tiny adorable town of Providence Rhode Island. Seeing the Mississippi Delta or the massive lakes of Michigan that actually and apparently look like beaches on the gulf coast. It can be anywhere, but home. Honestly, at this particular moment, getting in the car and wandering north while listening to my favorite podcast, sounds magnificent to me.
Here’s the thing.
I don’t wanderlust nearly as much as I used to.
I’ve sort of been a little busy. Babies and more babies make for an interesting slow down in the wanderlust department. And rightfully so. But it’s in those very moments where the world couldn’t seem harder with the constant chaos of a big family and the pounding in my head at 6 am from a toddler who has to pee, it’s then, that I’m firmly reminded of my wanderlust before baby. And of my freedom. Wanderlust is freedom. It’s falling in love with strangers and falling in love with life.
And just so you know, Mom came home after a year of wanderlust. And married my Dad. He was patient. And she loved him. And they are almost 50 years in to marriage and still very into each other. So anything is possible.
We are only here on this beautiful planet once. I intend to see it and live it with no fear, which was highly recommended by my mother. And I highly recommend you do the same.
And don’t you worry, I’ll be back for more wanderlust. I’m too hungry not to. K, bye.
*fyi-I was raised by good parents who taught me right from wrong, humility and awareness. I traveled very wisely and used precaution on every inch of every adventure. I recommend you do your research and take safety precautions along every road you travel.