Back in the USSA

Don’t know how lucky you are

Sunrise or sunset? Mount Hood and Mount Rainier on the horizon.

Sunrise or sunset? Mount Hood and Mount Rainier on the horizon.

Written by Chris

Tampa, Florida – After over a year of travel and 50 weeks outside of the country, Mindy and I finally touched down back on US soil. A lot has happened to us over the last year, some we had a chance to share here, much we have not yet, and all of it we are still processing and reflecting on. What did we like and what did we not like? What was our favorite part, what did we learn, and how have our views changed? There are a hundred questions that we don’t have answers to yet. Those will come in time.

As I am rising to get off our plane, I look into the Tampa terminal and see the Mindy and Chris from a year ago waiting to board their very first flight out of the country at the start of their trip. They look so fresh and clean-cut; hair in place, clothes all clean, everything looks brand new. It seems like a lifetime ago that that was us sitting there.

As I am walking down the jetway, I start to think of all the things I want to tell them when I walk past them, of all the tips and warnings they need to make their trip count. To carry more money and less stuff. I want to tell them to seize the opportunity to see the sights when they have the chance because they might not get another chance, but I also want to tell them to build rest time into the travel schedule so they don’t burn out.

I want to tell them to keep a closer eye on their pockets in Ecuador, to avoid that hotel with all the bugs, not to skip the volcano tour. I need to tell them not to trust the salesmen in Tanzania, not to take the train to Johannesburg, and to bring more light clothing for the heat in Malawi. They need to have good-fitting packs and shoes for all the hiking in Nepal and to gird their loins for the chaos of India. Eat all the green curry you can in Thailand, study your Kung Fu, and savor your time with the rescue dogs. And bring some extra money for Australia because it it $$$!

All these thoughts are whirling through my head as I enter the terminal and see last year’s Mindy and Chris sitting a ways inside. I need to choose what bits of wisdom to pass on and I’m almost up to them. I keep reflecting on all the things we’ve done in the last year and the list is staggering. I need to make sure they get the most out of their opportunity. I can help them to avoid all the mistakes we made and to make it perfect. I keep going over all these stores of woe, these awesome stores, and trying to decide which to warn them about.

And suddenly I am there. Right in front me is last year’s me, who is looking up at me expectantly. I take a breath and I hear myself saying,

“Have a great trip.”

I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

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