I have often been asked if Grand Rapids is my home and if I think that I will “end up” here.
Well, I don’t know, about either of those questions. I grew up here but I have always felt misplaced. Even as a child I felt only excited and in awe of other places and the possibilities that lie a plane ride away (or more). When I’m there I feel different, better, but I always know that it’s temporary, that I’ll leave soon. Now, I am at a place in my life where I have to choose, where do I want to spend the next three months/year/several years of my life. Which city, state, country do I want to live in and what do I want to do?
So, I’ve been working on a plan, a solid answer to something that will stump people the way they’ve stumped me with this question. What will I do when I graduate, in full avoidance of the phrase “I don’t know”.
Enjoy serendipitous happiness in another city, immerse myself in new cultures and food, dance with new people under bluer skies, with less stars, or more. I’ll embrace different perspectives and conversation about travel to new countries. I want to see mountains and bodies of water surrounding me, hike new trails, build new fires, fall in love, every millisecond, with the beauty surrounding me. It’ll be unfamiliar and that’s what I’ll probably like the most about it. I guess I’ll do the things that I enjoy…without limiting myself to that one job or career, because my interests and amazements will likely expand with every new mountain i climb, every new hand i shake and every new soul i dance with.
It’s pretty scary, to be 21 and realize that my whole life my thoughts were consumed with the idea of a successful career in the future, “when I grew up,” a career in writing I always imagined. But now, i’ve realize it’s less about a career and more about seeing the world. In an effort to figure out what I wanted to do I was given the opportunity to travel, and fell in love with it. So for me, it’s about being inspired with what’s around me, it’s about seeing the world. Talking to strangers about familiar topics, connecting with new people and strengthening those bonds even when we’re apart. It’s not about what happens between 9am-5pm, it’s about what that has led me to, the open-minded outlook to continue on into unfamiliar territory, not knowing what to do next but going blindly anyway. It’s about new laughs and familiar smiles in a new geographical area. New connections with old friends, and nostalgia.
It’s about the stressful plane rides that bring me to bright blue water and big cities in the middle of the night, it’s about finding new love, raw, organic, unexpected, but welcomed love. Love for a physical place and passion for how I got there. It’s really about the love for something intangible. No matter how much money I spend on plane tickets and trips to see new places, the experience remains priceless. The friendships, the new feelings, the memories all become intangible. Something no currency in the world could afford because it’s a part of your soul. A smile and painful nostalgia your soul longs for every second and learns to enjoy in the moment. It’s running down brick roads in Europe and through fields, laughing so hard and not being able to stop, it’s about long hugs goodbye, anticipatory trips and the ineffably good feeling brought by seeing someone again.
I feel lost a lot too though, normally when I return from a trip I get really stuck in the memories. I feel a little empty and like I have nothing to my name except for memories, which often times is partly true because I am often pretty broke after a good trip. But, I remember that the world is constantly spinning and so it should force me to always be moving forward, It’s moving in one direction and I really can’t go back. I have to move forward, even if that means returning to an old place, my feet are still constantly moving. There are always new memories to be created and new passions to be ignited, and there are always new dances to be had.
People talk about our generation as if we don’t know how to appreciate the moment and the traditional way things were done because we want to do it our way. Maybe because we saw our parents giving up dreams for a mortgage and giving up opportunities for…us. Maybe we’re a little selfish in the aspect that we’re young, we want to feel it all instead of ending it for a real job and a boring suburb. We want to keep the uncertainty for a little longer and help make the world a better place, because we don’t know what will happen next. It’s not about the money, it’s about how we can make it by without letting our world revolve around the worries of it.
Sometimes we have trouble putting our smart phones down but we know how to enjoy the moment in front of us, the natural beauty surrounding us and we know how to appreciate what our friends and family do, the role that we all play in each other’s journey. I’m not speaking for everyone but i can speak for myself, some of us want more than money and big houses and a college education. We want a wordily experience, knowledge obtained through our own mistakes that turns into wisdom, hostel stays, concert tickets, a year abroad, photos, maps, we want real experiences.
Maybe someday I’ll learn how to tame my crazy adventurous soul enough to be content with one physical place and if so i want to be surrounded by mountains and water and other crazy souls that dance and inspire the rest of the universe to continue wandering.
Like Paul Theroux, “I sought trains; I found passengers.”