San Francisco, CA
This past week I traded my typical dreary Midwestern weather for some California sunshine. I spent my spring break shadowing a company in San Francisco and testing out my solo travel skills. Adulthood is rapidly approaching and I find myself listening to "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" more often than I care to admit.
With my printed itinerarygrasped in my shaking hands, I boarded a plane in Louisville, KY headed to San Francisco, CA. Although I felt I was radiating an elusive cool girl aura of calm, cool, and collected, not five minutes passed before the girl sitting next to me asked me if I was scared of planes.
"Not so much planes as much as my future," I told her. "I'm on my way to a shadowing opportunity and I've never traveled this far by myself." I immediately regretted that phrasing and although this girl looked to be only a few years older than myself, I felt about five years old.
I say this with utmost sincerity when I say that this girl was a godsend. Originally from Louisville, she moved to San Francisco about a year ago to work for a startup (shocker). She was completely in agreeance with my big fish/little pond mindset, and it brought me an immense sense of comfort to see a girl not much older than me doing her thing and loving it so passionately. Hoping to sell me completely on The City by the Bay, my little San Franciscan angel wrote a masterlist of things to do during my short trip.
Because I am a rebel without a cause, I did about four of the twenty-five things she wrote down for me. This just means I will be back one day. I felt so inspired and sure of myself and my future during my trip that I felt it deserved to be permanently documented onto my body–yep, I got a tattoo.
I never want to lose the feeling of unfamiliarity that can only be experienced while exploring foreign ground. I never want to forget how hungry and naïve and clumsy and inspired I am right now at twenty years old. I want to make time for travel and exploration well into my golden years. I want to be the person who, when asked to recount where they've traveled, answers, "where haven't I traveled?" I want my children and my children's children to describe me as a globe trotter. An adventurer. Unafraid of the unknown. Seen it all. I want to gift my friends extravagant paperweights from Morocco. I want a leather jacket from Italy.
But above any material possessions collected throughout my travels, I want experience. I want memories of places so surreal I have to question if I was awake or dreaming. I want to look back on this life when I'm old and gray, lying in bed, confident that I experienced everything I was meant to.