I initially pursued a passport when someone I was dating thought we should definitely go somewhere during the winter of 2017, only to tell me he was leaving for a year to travel with a group of 65 others also in the midst of an existential crisis. This was the breaking point, but instead I stood by him because everything else about our relationship was adventure based and it wasn’t until I was far enough out of the breakup haze that I realized he was never able to sit still. For those who know me and saw me regularly it was apparent that I was hanging on for life. I had completely lost my appetite and thought yoga would be my savior. I lost over 25 pounds and did my best to smile through others trying on my situation saying “I could never do that.” “Don’t settle.” I clung to the words from clients about how I was now having the best of both worlds in that I had a happy relationship and I got to be free here at home to pursue my interests. The quote that twisted the knife of betrayal came after our families had Thanksgiving together and he had not yet told anyone else. I had asked “What about your family, the dogs, this life?” to which he responded “If you had asked me when we met, I would’ve told you I was selfish.” I think I laughed because it sounded so gross and proud and knew I was dealing with a shell of the person who had lifted me onto his shoulders so I could see the world above the wall of routine. I was thrown from his shoulders and was willing to walk beside him through the storm of long distance only to watch him bawl like a baby as we parted at the Malaysian airport. As I came home and he started his new life I was all too aware of the resentment just beneath the surface that I tried to laugh through, but instead I began avoiding his calls because I didn’t think someone who actually cared about me would literally go to the opposite end of the Earth. I hate this person for breaking my heart but I do believe that I was loved and that there was a genuine interest in trying to make us work. However the election and my lack of healing from my previous relationship along with my enjoyment of arguing rubbed us raw. I wanted to keep going, travel on my terms to prove I could carry the load of the unknown and I think I’ve done a good job at stuffing my wounds with sand. Watching sunsets on beaches, drinking wine and eating gelato as well as having the time to read the books I buy with good intention all make my trips fun, delicious and beautiful. More than anything, these trips have shown a very bright light on the family and life I have at home that I have taken for granted and absolutely love. Contrast is necessary in order to appreciate what you have. I don’t need to wait until I’m 60 or with children to realize how good I’ve had it and have got it. I don’t envy my generation as we grasp for meaning and fight depression because everything is either too available or too routine. We live in a validation economy and it’s amazing to look up from my phone sometimes and realize an hour has passed. I have no answers beyond developing an appreciation and gratitude for those that have weathered ones storms alongside them and that selfishness is not bravery. It’s cowardice. Independence and humility are beautiful. That being said, my trips have reignited and made more pressing my interests in law, economics, politics, history and sociology. It’s amazing to me to visit places that don’t run like ours. Starting in Asian and seeing the strict control and perceived oppression in Singapore to the lazy, dangerous construction zones of Lingkawi you can’t help but run the rubric and compare the United States and our ability to say just about anything about anyone. The most beautiful places I’ve seen have some of the worst economic disparities while more developed cities just look like everyone has shopped at H&M and cares about their purses and new money status. Countries with no auto insurance, little if any structural or zoning requirements. Hotels with slanting floors create the backdrop for haltertop dresses and white men gropping and tounging Thai women in front of the Radison. Realizing that our country is so dependent on our collective narrative that it seems unfathomable and even beneath us to live any other way has been nice to see from the outside. “I have absolutely no interest in that part of the world.” Is something I’ve heard repeatedly about Southeast Asia. Well… it’s worth it because the people tend to be nice as hell and make amazing food. The differences are astounding and unsettling I think for some. People imagine it’s dirty, polluted and dangerous and sure it is. The air has a taste and smell to it, I don’t know where that much human waste can reasonably go. Advertisements are direct and not subtle. Bleach your skin, lose weight, poop on time, fix your teeth. To see the interplay of environment and opportunity, self sufficiency and government enforcement is mind bending. So for the experiences, I am forever grateful and forever intrigued. That’s where my growth has come from. Not saying “Ew” and thinking that offers some growth, or saying “those poor pitiful people- I’m so lucky.” Rather to be stunned to watch from taxis and buses as infants cling (or not) to their siblings on mopeds dodging around incoming traffic is pretty jarring and beautiful. There’s a synchronous feeling to the flow in Vietnam that if they were in cars with their windows up, would probably never work. Trash and scum covered streams, wet sidewalks from dripping air units running constantly with open doors and windows makes a lot of the cities I’ve visited seem awfully wasteful but when a place is so large and so fast- I don’t really know who or what makes you care.