Do you remember what you were doing at 22?
Parts of it I remember as if it were yesterday. Specifically, I remember a Sunday afternoon after seeing a movie at the old Studio 28. I’d had my photo taken in a photo booth where you could select your own background; I chose the Colosseum in Rome. I kept joking about what a good time I’d had in Rome … when it occurred to me that I could actually go to Rome and have a good time.
You have to understand I did not come from a family that traveled. My family was not curious about other cultures or how other people lived. You could only describe my life up to that point as extremely limited, and my exposure to the global world could be summed up as only what I learned in school — again, limited.
I do remember a geography teacher in high school who shared his travel photos to Australia and New Zealand as a slideshow. I was paying rapt attention, as evidenced by the fact that I remember this some 30 years later (and thank you, geography teacher, and all teachers).
Needless to say, I booked the ticket. Thus began a lifelong love of travel.
I picked Venice as the first city I wanted to see in Europe, and that’s where I flew to. Having dinner that night on the Grand Canal, I looked at my then-husband and said, “I want to see it all.” I had an understanding in that moment that the world was big and beautiful and held many treasures, and I wanted to know about all of it, to see it, experience and explore.
The new pattern became: I would work really hard, save up money and then go away as long as I could afford to. Over the next few years, I visited most of Europe, Nepal, India, Mexico, Thailand and Egypt. And it changed me. Honestly, it was the greatest education I ever had, and it’s no exaggeration to say that it turned me into an artist.
I had studied art in high school, and I was a hairdresser, which is certainly an art form in itself, but travel made me want to record the places I saw. I did that first in photography, but it wasn’t enough. I wanted to record it as I saw it, not as the camera saw it. And so began a life as am artist, and as a traveler.
At 44, I understand this is who I am, what I do. I’ll never get it out of my system or stop wanting to explore and spend time in other cultures.
Stay tuned for Part II next week, for more ramblings on the road and the journey.