The summer after my first year of college, when I was eighteen, I studied abroad in Spain. It was my first experience with international travel, and I was so naive about life then. On that trip, I drank alcohol for the first time, stayed up all night dancing, traveled to northern and southern beaches and places in between like Pamplona during the running of the bulls (where I slept outside since we didn't have a hotel room). I felt lonely, inspired, and found a contentment unlike any I had known near home that came from a sense of spending time in a different culture, exploring, and learning more about others and myself in the process. That trip ignited a spark in me to see the world and to get to know as much of it as I could. Since then, I have traveled to six of the seven continents, seventeen countries and counting, and learned so much about myself and the world in the process.
Traveling taught me that I wanted to marry Matt, because being near him was so much better than being apart. I wanted to discover the world with him by my side. Traveling gave me the courage to quit my first teaching job and go back to school full time to get my master's in Peace and Justice Studies. During that year of school, traveling taught me that the most important job in the world for me was to be a high school teacher in San Diego in spite of how romantic it may seem to live in another country or do something else. And traveling has taught me the importance of a sense of home and community, because most of the time, life is extremely fulfilling just staying put and investing time into my community and friends and family. Friends and family provide a true sense of self that often can't be found in another country.
Here I find myself, ten years later in that same country that caused me to fall in love with traveling in the first place, Spain. On that trip as an eighteen year old, I never made it to Barcelona, and it has been on my list ever since. Ten years later, here I am. In some ways so much the same and also completely different. I am older, wiser, more comfortable with who I am, and more content to live life as it comes instead of always seeking out that next adventure.
(photos taken from our balcony where we stayed in Barcelona, a nice spot to drink a glass of wine)