International Writers Magazine: Jenna on Wanderlust
first time I got on an airplane I was 13 months old. I dont
remember it of course; I only remember hearing about it later. Now,
Im a little over 21 years old, with more hundred flights under
my belt and numerous other trips by car on my list, and enough memories
to fill a lifetime.
this moment, I can name about ten of my personal acquaintances who
have never once even been on a plane, or out of their home state.
I think to myself, how could this even be possible? How is it possible
for an adult, living here in American, to never have experienced
something as magical as Disneyworld as a child?
Image Jen at 21
I say to these aquaintances,
"Youve never been to Disneyworld? Ive been like six
or seven times."
I then start naming off the particular trips. Okay, once when I was
a baby, once when I was 11, and once when I was 16. Then I remember,
well, there was that one other time and oh yeah that other time. By
the time I finish counting, Ive recollected seven separate trips
I had taken to Disneyworld before graduating high school.
As of this current day, I have been to Greece, Italy, Germany, Canada,
and Mexico, about 30 states, and countless cities. A great deal of this
I owe to my parents. They taught me that Texas will always be my home,
but I should never feel like its my only set of boundaries.
Jenna at the beach
since I was little, we have taken vacations to your typical historical
American landmark, your typical family fun destination, and your
typical, not-so-secret hotspot that was off the beaten path.
And whether or not I thought that walking to see all seven Smithsonian
Institute museums on what I still think was the hottest day ever
recorded for Washington D.C. seemed fun, I can definitely appreciate
it now that Im older, and can see what it has taught me.
Although we always aimed to see the generic vacation spots, my parents
tried to teach me to acknowledge that sometimes you dont have
to go far to see something new. Besides our big out-of-state vacations,
we would take several day trips each month to different places within
Texas. We would get up early on a Saturday morning to take a drive
to San Angelo to see the college campus, or to Brehnam to lay in
the bluebonnets or even to San Antonio to take a walk down the Riverwalk
It wasnt typical
to take large vacations every month, but we still tried to take small
trips to get out of our everyday environment. A taste of something new
or different seemed do a bit of good, and waking up in another city
was sometimes just what you needed to relax.
Thanks to my parents influencing me to have a great sense of adventure,
I have seen Cats on Broadway in Times Square, a fireworks illuminated
sky beside the Washington Monument on Independence Day, and my name
in the sand in Santa Cruz with the cool, constant, California breeze
blowing through my hair.
These are all things that Im proud to say I have experienced.
It seems almost a cliché, but I would never take back any of
it. I love that Ive been able to experience so many different
places, the way they were intended to be experienced.
While still in high school I took my first trip overseas, to Italy and
Greece. I spent 12 days in the most uncommon, yet breathtaking, places
I had ever seen. I think a bit of ancient history can do a bit of good
to your intellectual self. Ruins of ancient Roman societies and Athenian
remains have a way of making you feel humbled in the fact that you arent
the only ones to have lived, and that so many people came before you.
Places like that can have a power over you, making you feel proud to
have even walked there so many years later. Today, when I see the Parthenon
or Coliseum on television, or in movies, I see that it can never be
done justice through a screen, but I still say to myself, "Yep.
It was after I came back from Europe that it really hit me. There is
so much that I hadnt seen. From then I began to change the way
I thought about vacations. Taking trips wasnt so much about getting
great pictures or souvenirs, but rather the experiences you go through
while youre there and how you feel when you leave. It is easy
to feel like home is where the heart is when you never take the time
to visit any other places. I feel that visiting other destinations can
do a great deal of work on your character. It can show you that not
everyone lives like you do.
I like most about traveling is the feeling of waking up in another
city. Id wake up, turn over and look out of my hotel room
to the city below and the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance, or
sound the whitecaps of the Atlantic washing up against the rocks
on the Jersey shore. For some, its an everyday backdrop to
their lives, but its only with an outsiders perspective do
you get a chance to appreciate what isnt the norm for you.
It made me appreciate what I wake up to everyday. The sunset, the
beach, the downtown skyscrapers are all things I had never taken
the time to just stop and stare at.
Image Jenna at 17
We put a pause
on our extravagant family vacations when my sister and I got older and
my parents knew that long trips filled with nothing but "grip and
grin" photos seemed a little too kid-dish for us. But
it hasnt stopped me. I still have the desire my parents instilled
at a young age. I had inside to see as much of the world as I could.
Since then, Ive continued to venture out on my own, and am thrilled
every time I get to check off a new place from my ongoing list: Take
a stroll down Hollywood Boulevard; Check. Ride the Elevated Train into
downtown Chicago; Check. Lounge in the VIP nightclub in Caesars
Whether its a weekend in Austin to walk down 6th street at night,
or an overnight drive to Memphis just for some genuine soul food, Im
always enthusiastic for a trip. The destination doesnt have to
be anything extravagant, but at the very least, youll see something
that you hadnt ever seen before, and that in itself is something.
Youre only limited to what you want to do. Taking a chance on
something new is the only way to discover a lifestyle that might influence
you to live your life a certain way or look to others with sense of
acceptance in the way they live theirs. No matter how many places I
visit, the list I have just keeps growing longer. Im not too sure
where Im going next, but I know Im going soon.
Simsen November 2008
jennasimsen at rocketmail.com
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