I sometimes look back on my life wonder how it would have been different if I had taken a semester abroad in college. I could have studied in England, but for immature reasons I didn’t. If I had, would I have been bitten by the travel bug at twenty instead of thirty-five? Or would that immature self have bungled the trip and never tried again?
If I had developed the travel bug, I would have missed out on many of the experiences that led me to who I am today. Marriage. Divorce. The art scene in Portland, OR. None of which were happy enough experiences to give me a reason to put down roots.
I had gone to Portland for the artistic experience, unaware that this City of Roses was where people went to pretend they hadn’t graduated from college. I went to art shows by activists, the homeless, and the professionals. I attended musical performances based upon classical music and urban chaos. I went to more open mics than I could count. But I never really fit in for the same reasons I never really fit in during college, mostly having to do with my being a shy nerd who doesn’t drink or do drugs. In both places I had expected a higher plane and been disappointed.
My first travel abroad was unplanned and random. I had complained that I was running out of money to support my writing habit and a friend introduced me to a friend who had written a romance novel while teaching ESL in China. She and her boyfriend sounded so happy complaining about life over there that I had to look into it.
And thus began the great new stage of my life.