One of my summer projects was to go through the boxes I have stored at my parents’ place and try to eliminate some of them. It’s amazing how much stuff I still have from years past, and how much I still have yet to go through. But one of the boxes I did make it to was my high school notebooks. While the notebooks went the way of the recycling bin, I held onto the papers I found out of curiosity. When I couldn’t fall asleep last night I decided to read some of them. I came across one called “One Year.”
I don’t remember the assignment – it was in my American Literature class, in which we had to write a series of reflective journals – but I can guess from the title and first line that we had to write what we would do with a year of free time. Anything we wanted. Here are the first and last paragraphs of my response:
One free year. It sounds like a lot of time, but it is so hard to fit everything I want to do into one year. I want to see the world, spend time in the wilderness of Vermont or Alaska, live in the city, intern, work on my photography, play ice hockey and lacrosse, relax by the pool, and so much more. But it is impossible to do all that in one year. Choosing the most important enterprise requires a lot of thought. What can I benefit from the most at my age? What can I fit in the time of 365 days? What offers the most opportunities for amazing adventures and exploration? The first two questions have many different answers, but in considering the third question one endeavor in particular stuck out: see the world. Granted, it is an extremely courageous plan, but just choosing certain places can cut it down to being doable in just one year. One day I’d like to have been to every continent but that will take many years, not just one. So in order to shorten the list I thought of where I have wanted to go for the longest. These four ventures are the places that I want to go to as soon as possible. They all reflect a way of life I wish to attain: spontaneous, relaxed, peaceful, and cultured.
As I finish this paper I can just imagine all the wonderful places I have written about and I wish I were leaving tomorrow. All of these locations have so much to offer and I want to absorb all that is there. Ultimately I choose travel because of the experience. There is no way to gain a greater knowledge about the world than to see it. As profitable as that is, there is more to it than becoming more cultured. Travelling is where I can really explore myself. Being away from what I’m used to and in completely different surroundings, sometimes even with new languages, is how I can really tell who I am. Can I adapt well to these situations? There is no way to know until I try. I hope that visiting all these places would bring out the kind of person I’ve always wanted to be, the person that is stuck inside but needs help being released. The entire experience would open me up more and each place would bring out a different quality in me. San Francisco would show the more relaxed part of me while Fiji displays the exotic. Australia is just the fulfillment of a life-long dream. Europe is for the culture. Hopefully every place will help me achieve peace in life and help me be the kind of person I want to be.
This paper is dated November 23, 2003. I have been saying that my Round the World dream started senior year of college, so I’m sorry to say that I have been lying to you all. It appears to have started junior year of high school.
It is an incredible thing to read the thoughts of 16-year-old me and be able to tell her: “you will do this.” And: “you nailed it.” That final paragraph is everything to me. The fact that I actually went to most of the places I talk about in the rest of this paper – San Francisco, the Great Barrier Reef, the Coliseum in Rome – and even accomplished some of the other things I mentioned in the first paragraph – interned, lived in the city, spent time in Vermont – is just icing on this cake from the past.