As most of you know, I came home from a recent trip to Norway with a fractured right ankle. When the incident happened, I was at a loss as to how to manage getting around despite the ankle cast and a pair of crutches. Fortunately, […]
Tag: solo female traveler
March 2003: Hours before my departure for the Philippines and in the midst of last-minute packing, I called my mother to verify my arrival in Manila. Despite the bad phone connection, I sensed that something wasn’t right. She sounded frazzled. She haltingly informed me then […]
“The best thing about existence is that any moment in time can be a point of beginning to anything! In other words, every moment of our life holds a key for the unknown or the closed doors of new paths!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan
I love doors and when traveling, I love to take photos of them. They can be huge, austere, pretty, colorful, studded, gothic, graffitied, wooden or metallic, etc. Somehow, the older or worn out they are, the more beautiful they seem to me. Sometimes, a door can tell you a story or reveal its history. It peaks my curiosity of what lies behind it and its potential to lead someplace quite different. And much like in life, some doors lead to somewhere exciting and wonderful, while others lead to the mundane and ordinary.
Many years ago, a big door opened up for me. When I found out that my work visa for the US was approved, I was ecstatic. Finally, all my dreams will come true. With a pocketful of optimism and one luggage in hand, I left my home and country and entered a new chapter in my life. Since then, I have opened and closed a lot of doors. I have a nursing job in a hospital, a stable source of income that allows a comfortable lifestyle. I had gotten married and subsequently divorced. I am, however, presently in a nurturing partnership with a man who is giving me hope that a long-lasting relationship could be possible for me. I also have a strong support system consisting of friends I met through work and through other friends. Almost all of my family members have immigrated and living close by so I am now part of a family unit again. Most of all, I had traveled to places I’ve always dreamed of exploring. I have checked a few items off my long bucket list and still adding a few more. I’ve met people and experienced highs and lows that created such an impact (good or bad) on my life. In a nutshell, life is good. Not perfect by any means, but pretty darn good so far.
Now, I can’t help but wonder sometimes what my life would have been if I made divergent choices. What if I didn’t become a nurse? After all, it wasn’t what I’ve always wanted to do. Truth be told, I picked it because it was the only college course that offered a way out of our small city. I desperately wanted to be independent and live away from home. I also wanted to travel the world and going to nursing school was my stepping stone. One thing led to another and here I am. So the question is, where would I be if I opened a different door? What if there’s an alternative life that exists, one that followed a path not taken. What would it be like?
Humor me and let’s travel back in time, yeah?… If I think hard enough, I can see myself still single, working on a dead-end job that doesn’t pay much and still living in our city, probably with my parents and siblings. Or maybe, I became a nurse anyway and working in a local hospital, married to a nice guy with a stable job and have 3 kids. We’ll be living in a cozy house and maybe even own a car. Or alternatively, I became a successful journalist like I wanted to be, dating steadily but not in a hurry to get married. Maybe I have a place of my own and have a terrific group of friends to hang out with. Or… I could be a shrewd businesswoman, well-traveled but barely home and not having much success in relationships. Life indeed is a web of intersections and choices and sometimes, like some doors, because they are gaudy and ornate, they can usher us into the land of greed and money. But many can look unassuming and plain, yet hidden behind their simplicity one can find love and warmth.
Okay, I don’t mean to be waxing philosophies with you, guys. I’m just posing the question to make you think and imagine how things would have been for you (at this point in your life) had you not decided to abandon your childhood dreams, family, home or country behind for whatever reason (marriage, studies, reunification, job, exile), whether temporarily or permanently. If you are a transplant, how has living in your host country changed the course of your life? For the better or for the worse? Do you ever feel that somehow, you entered the wrong door and can’t find your way out of it ? Feel free to sound off and leave me your thoughts in the comment section.
“Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” – Anais Nin The television gets so much bad rap and yet it continues to grab people’s attention. It’s […]
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
As a young girl, I’ve always been curious about other countries and cultures. I read about them in books and magazines. I often fantasize about someday catching sight of the places that I only see in the movies and TV. Candidly, the desire to travel was my incentive in choosing to study Nursing in college and what spurred me to keep going even when things got perversely grueling. I just know that there’s a bigger world waiting out there for me and I can’t wait to explore and be a part of it.
Looking back, this passion didn’t just come out of nowhere. Maybe I’ve always been a nomad at heart, but at some point, someone or something ignited that flame in me. For me, that trigger was my Aunt Agnes. She was my father’s youngest sister and was quite independent, untraditional and a bit of a free spirit. She married a Korean man (uncommon at that time) who worked in international construction. Due to the nature of his job, they were able to live in Alaska, Korea and the Middle East and had traveled to Europe a few times. During that time, we periodically received photos depicting her new life and travels. I looked forward to when my grandmother would pass them around during family get-togethers and bingo games. To me, Aunt Agnes looked so glamorous, sophisticated, confident and worldly-wise. I remember one photo that stood out the most. It was one of her with the Eiffel Tower behind her. At that distinct moment, a thought flashed: “I’ll go there someday.” With that notion, my fate was sealed and my itinerant soul was slowly released.
It took a few years but I eventually made it to Paris in 2006. The moment was unlike anything else. Surreal was an understatement indeed. That trip also marked the beginning of my love affair with Europe. I just find myself drawn to the romance, history, architecture, culture, language and the people themselves. I can’t get enough of it. I might have started off dreaming about Paris but now, I want to find myself waking up at as many places as possible in the continent. I have a long way to go but just like many, many moons ago, I’ll get there someday…
Is there a destination that you’ve always dreamed of visiting and have you already fulfilled that dream? If you haven’t, what’s keeping you from making it a reality? What will it take to motivate you? Please do share your thoughts in the comment section. I would love to hear about it. Happy travels!