I’ve been quite a few places in the past few years. I’ve been to both coasts, and Texas. I’ve been to Disneyland a handful of times. I’ve had the pleasure of driving my pseudo niece and nephews to school for dropoff, I woke up one morning on a beach with sand in my hair, and went to bed a LOT of nights with a goofy grin on my face.
But there was a 15 year period where I didn’t go anywhere.
I stayed home. I barely left my city, let alone my state. I can count on one hand the number of times that I escaped my bubble during those 15 years.
My life during that period was a coloring book that I was coloring only in black and white.
When I first started to travel, I colored my book with reds and oranges. It was scary by myself, away from home. I always forgot something. I was ALWAYS ridiculously early, because I would have nightmares about missing my flight for weeks prior to my trips. It was terrifying and exhilarating all at once.
Then I started to color with blues. I missed home while I was gone. I allowed my homesickness to color an entire trip to Portland and kind of wreck it. I cried in my hotel room a lot that trip, and at the bar on one of my poor coworkers during one VERY memorable meltdown. I missed my kids. I missed Olivia the cat, even though she couldn’t care any less about me than she does on the daily.
Every time I thought of home during that trip, the vice of sorrow around my joy of traveling squeezed a little tighter until I was miserable and even Blue Star Donuts couldn’t heal that.
Then I colored with greens. And more blues. I stuck my toes in the ocean every single chance I could. I stuck my feet in one really rapidly moving (and slightly scary) freezing river in Colorado in lieu of an ocean.
My experiences started to shift and I didn’t miss home so much when I was gone. I said “yes” a lot more and stopped being afraid to ask for what I wanted. I allowed myself to feel more about my circumstances. I stopped fighting what was inside of me, and instead, allowed it to bloom.
Then came the yellows and shiny colors and the glitter. The “skipping down Main Street in Disneyland”. The “riding an old rusty bike 6-1/2 miles the day after a half marathon so you can spend the afternoon taking pictures of surfers.” The “going to Knotts’ Scary Farm, even though you really don’t like being scared, but your best friend does and the look on her face is totally worth the laryngitis and the heart palpitations.” The “holding snakes and tarantulas while flirting with cute park rangers.”
The moments where saying “yes” resulted in something hilarious or amazing or memorable. The moments when all the planning went out the window and something extraordinary happened instead. The times when I let go of my super type-A traveling style and went with the flow and ended up clinking glasses with 1 high school friend, one brand new friend and 2 dear friends at the Cove Bar in Disneyland.
I am grateful for each of these trips, because when I’m at home alone during the winter, socked in with rain and grey skies, I can close my eyes and see the colors from my travels.
I can see the red of the bricks from the buildings at Harvard, and the grey-blue of the harbor in Boston. I can see every shade of green (including some I’ve never seen before) from the mountains near Nederland, Colorado. I can see the multiple colors of red and pink and purple that my skin turned in Miami, while I was trying to enjoy that seafoam-green ocean. (Sunscreen is good and jellyfish are baaaaad.)
I can see the pinks and blues shooting through the hair of our waiter from that dark Thai place, and I can taste the confetti of reds and greens scattered through the mushroom tacos from that weird little taco stand in Austin. I can see a scattering of white stars across a vast deep black expanse of sky in Arizona, with the glittery tail of an occasional shooting star.
I can see my best friend Angela’s dark hair and her black lipstick as she runs past me in a haunted house at Knotts Scary Farm. I can taste the layered pink, yellow and blue (topped with a cloud of white) in the “Fun Wheel” drink off the secret menu at that little bar in Disneyland California Adventure. I can see the mint color of my new Disney leggings that matched my new friend Alex’s shirt. I can see the blond of my dear friend Kyle’s hair and the white of his teeth as we laughed so hard we both snorted on the Grizzly River Run ride.
I use all the colors of the rainbow in my coloring book now. I use the biggest and brightest colors, and make sure I color outside the lines on occasion.
I plan to continue to color brightly and outside of the lines as much as possible. <3