I’ve been avoiding this post for the longest time.
For one, because it feels like it needs to be a conclusion. I have no more countries to add to this list, so should I be done? I feels so wrong to write a concluding post to a journey which I feel is still very much underway.
Secondly: how do I summarize all this? Is there a central theme? What lessons have I learned? Does that even matter?
It’s true, my list as of now has come to an end. So unless I’m prepared to update this once a year (at best), my “bucket list series” is done here (guest authors welcome!).
I suppose I’ll just end with this. Somewhat of a call to action to you homebodys, or a reminder to you travel-bugs.
Traveling is timeless. Yes, it costs you money. But what it buys you is priceless. One day you’ll have to part from your Dodge Stratus, or fancy Kitchen-Aid blender. But no one will ever take away your memories. And this is what travel buys you, or at least what it has bought me.
When I shave in the morning before work, as the razor hits my cheek, I remember shaving in front of the window watching the waves crash on the cliffs in the Forteleza do Guincho hotel in Portugal, and I smile.
When I have a good steak, I remember sitting on the patio of La Puerta Ancha steakhouse watching those kids play soccer in the square of Ayamonte, Spain while the afternoon gave way to evening.
When drink my coffee, I’m brought back to the crisp 7 am morning air in Vienna and the journey we undertook to find a coffee shop and pastry before setting out on the town to explore.
When snow begins to fall, I remember Prague. Experiencing something like waking up in the middle of a dream, but realizing it was all real; that fairy tales are really inspired by true places, and you have to get out into the world to see them.
But also Terezin. The camp just outside of the city. This same snowy cold day providing an eeriness and deadness to the world that made me question what it is to be human and haunt me even to this day.
All these things have made me a different person. And without having been around the world, I’d be so much less. I count my blessings that I married a woman who shares these same passions and has journeyed with me throughout much of this, and a woman with whom I welcomed a son Jacob to the world who was born this past January. He was named after my ancestral forefather from Hesse, Prussia (see my earlier German post), the man whose father braved a two week long Atlantic journey from Antwerp, Belgium to New York Harbor and planted my family’s roots here in America.
What a joy and excitement that I get to teach his great, great, great, great grandson how big this world is. What beauty he has surrounding him. What treasures his God has created, and maybe one day even bring him back to the land his ancestors left.
What a beautiful world.
Until next time – KG