Well, it’s my birthday. That means cake (or in my case, pie) and presents and Facebook messages.
But for me, every year when I turn one year older, I can’t help but think of the new places I’ve seen in the 365 days since my last birth anniversary. This year has been mighty productive. Like a patriotic caravan in the Prairie Home Companion, TJ and my brother and I have seen a lot of new corners of the US of A. And we’ve revisited some familiar territory too.
Los Angeles. Laguna Niguel. Orange County. Salt Lake City. Madison. Cornucopia. Bayfield. Duluth. Spring Green. Ely. The Dells. Dallas. Fort Worth.
Ultimately, thinking about where I’ve been gets me noodling on where I’d like to go next. And this year, I’m dreaming really, really big. Some people make “life lists” or “bucket lists” - I make travel lists. As I’ve expressed before, my mind has a fixation on places and my heart has a longing for the unknown. And of course my camera lens always loves a new muse.
In the last year, I’ve had a friend who went and dubbed it “real life Disney Land,” my mom has twice given me magazines with Budapest imagery on the cover and three movies featured the lovely city. It seems like a message to my Passport: go to Budapest.
TJ has been totally vexed by my sudden fixation on the Hungarian city, but after nearly five years together, he’s starting to understand that my stubbornness is part of the issue here. I mean just look at the Széchenyi Baths and Castle Hill. I have a good feeling about Budapest.
Philosopher and Saint, the Blessed Augustine once said:
If there is even one morsel of worthwhile knowledge in my head, it’s the fact that there is nothing more valuable to the spirit than seeing something new. It makes you appreciate the wonder of the unknown while making you value the certain knowns of your life; your home, family and friends.
There’s a reason that Tolkien made Lord of the Rings a travel log. And Game of Thrones thrives in moments of wandering. And Doctor Who visits different planets and galaxies and black holes. Creators put their characters into these situations so that the unknown within themselves can be revealed to us.
While wandering through England in 2007, I had up to that point in my life never truly been in love. There was a freedom to this, but there’s something strange about the human mind before love has made its mark. I NEVER worried. Or fretted. It’s part immaturity and part youth. And so I did things at random without a plan all. the. time.
I woke up one Saturday in May with a hunch that I might like Stonehenge and hopped a train. I had no idea how you got from the train station in Bath to the rocks on the hillside. I didn’t know how much it would cost. Or if I could even afford it. Truly, it didn’t matter. I was going to see this marvel of the past, although I didn’t entirely know why.
I’m older and wiser now, sure. But it’s this openness of mind and heart that I seek when I travel. Sure, it’s about the sites. And the food. And the beautiful photos. (Repeat after me: it’s NEVER about the t-shirt.) But ultimately, it’s the unveiling of my potential, my opinions, my feelings and my future that I treasure most. It’s like all my favorite stories. It’s a journey. And at this point in life with my love and better planning skills, it’s a romance and a comedy and admittedly, a drama too.
And yes, I did get to Stonehenge. And it was worth it.