I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Scott grew up in Grand Rapids, MI. He moved to Chattanooga for a job opportunity in 2008, when met me. (I’ll save the details of how we met and married for later.) I had only lived outside of Chattanooga for a few months in 2006 when I tried to escape a broken heart and moved in with my mom near D.C. Needless to say, I was quite attached to my hometown, and even though I had always yearned to move abroad or just somewhere not-Tennessee, I lacked the courage to just go. After living in various parts of the city for a few years, we realized that we just weren’t happy there. We didn’t have a ton of friends we truly meshed with and the mentality of the area was a bit conservative for us. After much consideration, we moved to downtown Grand Rapids to be near Scott’s family and friends, and mainly to experience something new.
We were there two years. Luckily, we found a beautiful, historic home to rent. The house, built in 1890, was a 5 minute ride to downtown, a block away from Scott’s childhood best friend and his amazing family, and across the street from a new park. We had many dinner parties, wine nights, and family get-togethers. I’m actually trying to recall a bad memory there, and I can’t even do it. We had a wonderful time, ripe with the kind of friendships and conversations that make you breathless with gratitude.
What the hell? Why did you leave, you might say. Everything was perfect! And it nearly was.
From the first few minutes of conversation from our first date in 2008, it was clear that both of us desired travel. We yearned to see more than the same city or town for the next rest of our lives. The appeal of experiencing diversity was such an easy topic on which we could agree. The only question was when such traveling would occur. I was a senior in college and he worked a full time job at an office. When would we ever actually do it? By ‘it’ I don’t mean the occasional 5-7 day trips to tropical destinations, where you spend more time getting sunburned while drinking pina coladas. (Well, wait, that’s kind of fun, too.)
Talk and dreams of travel dissipated when we got pregnant with our first child. Our priorities shifted considerably, and the first thing on our minds was making sure our baby was well cared-for. In a traditional view, traveling around the country or world were certainly not allowed if one was to be a sufficient parent. Traveling was selfish. Kids can’t handle not being in the same place every night; without routine they are doomed…right?
After a trip to Costa Rica with friends in January of 2015, I felt this urge to travel again bubbling up in my mind.
This world is so vast and great, and I long to see more. My children deserve to see more. I want them to experience different cultures, cuisines, and music. I want them to feel what it is to be a minority. I want them to see the beaches, the deserts, the mountains, the plains. The small town dollar stores. The workers in the fields, the fishermen pulling their catch from the bay. The factories, the nature reserves. I want their lives to be full with experiences they won’t ever get in a fluorescent-lit classroom. I want them to be world citizens who understand that our way isn’t the only way, that how much you love and respect is more important than how much money you make, that we truly are all equal and great.
To me, it seemed traveling the United States would allow for such an experience.