Sitting at lunch with an old friend the other day, we were catching each other up on our lives. As I sat there, drinking my third glass of Dr. Pepper (don’t judge, I haven’t had a DP in almost 2 years!) and swirling my pita bread in a bowl of hummus, he leaned in and said, “So, in your year of traveling everywhere, what is your favorite place that you’ve visited?”
It only took me a second to name the place and then I laughed because not only did I surprise myself with what came to mind first but I had a sudden epiphany. It was one of those ones that you wonder why it took that very second to hit you since it was glaringly obvious all along?
So, in this year, I’ve been to Vegas 9 times, have been flown to Dallas for a photoshoot, went to Sonoma for a wedding, visited Arizona a good number of times, had weekend trips in LA and Palm Springs, a few San Diego outings, a few days in Playa Del Carmen, a few weeks in San Jose.
And my travel list before that was fun as well with stints in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Hawaii, NYC, Tahiti, and Africa.
But my “big” epiphany was that it is never about the place. It’s always about the people you are with and the experience, the adventure. (I know you’re all thinking, “DUH, Hanssie,” but it’s my blog and I’ll post about my epiphanies however obvious they are, thank you very much…)
In my travels…
I’ve perused the night markets of China with a new friend, having contests of who could eat more. Picture two 100lb girls, giggling and scarfing down all sorts of random goodies from street vendors…
I’ve had hundreds of little African school children surrounding me, begging me to take their pictures and trying to get close enough to me to stroke my long straight hair with their grubby little fingers. I can picture their huge smiles and sounds of awe, while they touched their own kinky hair, having never seen hair as straight and long as mine.
I’ve swum with dolphins in the clear waters of Moorea and surfed in the beaches of Oahu.
I’ve cried at the ruins of the Twin Towers and played Chopsticks on the huge piano in FAO Swartz, channeling Tom Hanks via “Big.”
I’ve sung with the street musicians on the Las Vegas strip at 3 am and sang “Call Me Maybe” along with the radio while running through the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.
I’ve been kissed on the warm beaches of Mexico under a bright beautiful moonlight (I still owe you that story huh?).
I’ve been a part of building a bonfire so big on the beaches of San Diego that it looked like a Viking Wake and I’m surprised we were not stopped.
I’ve had the house almost burn down around me while I slept from an errant frozen pizza forgotten in the oven.
Good and bad, experiences shape who we are. Some are life-changing, some seem inconsequential yet later appear to be a significant moment in your life, some are just memories that when recalled, bring a smile to our faces or tears to our eyes. My life is rich with experiences in all different parts of the world, but some of the best experiences of my life have happened at home in my tiny little town with the best people in the world. Like…
Holding my daughter for the very first time –and then handing her back because I needed to vomit.
Saying goodnight to my Grandmother and having her pass away before I woke the next morning.
Streaking through my new apartment complex at 11 pm after trolling in Beer Pong (um yeah, that really happened).
Sipping coffee and sharing each other’s dreams one afternoon with @hashtagBrandon and being inspired to come home and change the entire direction of my blog.
All these little moments remind me of life and how blessed I am to experience it. This year, I’ve really taken the time to slow down and enjoy life. (I know it doesn’t seem like it with all the traveling, but traveling actually forces me to stop working on the weekends). I’m trying to savor each experience, each person I come in contact with, each moment…
The Kidlet told me the other day in her little seven-year-old logic that it seems that life happens so fast that she can barely stand it. Yes, it does, baby. Yes, it does. So no matter where you are today, stop and enjoy that moment–even if it’s a Monday. Enjoy that experience. Enjoy that person you are with. There won’t be another one exactly like it…and don’t forget to take some pictures along the way. XOXO.