Someone from back home made a comment to me a couple weeks ago that she would hate to see my bucket list...that is must be a blank page.
It isn't blank, but not just because there are a few places on the original one (that yes, is actually written down in a place I can access regularly) that I have yet to visit (I'm looking at you Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, and Angkor Wat), but also because the more I travel, the more I want to see. So the list keeps growing.
Before I met my wife, I had left the country exactly once, for my "once in a lifetime" trip to Germany. Of course, I have since been to Germany numerous times and have no doubt I will go back. And I also no longer think of travel as once in a lifetime. I've traveled now to 28 countries outside the U.S., many multiple times and seven new ones and several returns to previously visited ones in just the past nine months.
Our most recent trip was two weeks ago, to Slovenia. You should go there...Lake Bled is amazing!
That was a recent bucket list addition. Dracula's Castle is as well, now that we are close enough to Romania. That will probably be in a couple months.
In case you are curious about some of the other places, they are the usual suspects: the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Neuschwanstein in Germany, the pyramids in Egypt, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and the Sea of Galilee, Petra in Jordan, the Hagia Sofia in Turkey, the Acropolis in Greece. I've been to Rome and the Pompeii. I've visited Stonehenge. I've snorkeled in the Red Sea. And Estonia wasn't on my original bucket list, but it should have been.
Not bad for a kid who grew up in a Mill Village in South Carolina.
Any one of these and numerous other trips I've been lucky enough to make could have been a "once in a lifetime." Now they are more like, "this is my life" trips.
You miss a lot being in the Foreign Service, and I'd be lying if I didn't long sometimes for the comforts of home. I miss my family, my house, being able to buy cheddar cheese... But I have gained a lot too.
Travel is one of the best ways to combat prejudice and open minds. I am a different person than I was before my first trip overseas. And I am a changed person with each place I visit. you take a little of it home with you. You find that you love your own country a little more while realizing that there is so much the world offers that we do not.
Why am I being so introspective today? Probably because it is May. As I mentioned yesterday, Mother's Day gets me. This year marks 20 years since she passed. It also marked the passing of the date at which I was older than my mother had been when she died. And May is her birthday month, and that of her mother, who became like a mother to me (and me like a daughter to her) after my mom died. I lost her six years ago. May makes me think of what I miss, and therefore what I am missing by being away.
But it also makes me hope she can see me, that she would be proud of the person I have become and the adventure that has become my life. Some of the places on my bucket list are places I would have loved to have shared with her.
I kind of hope I have.