You’re doing what?!

To truly understand why we’re going on this adventure, you have to know a little bit of background. For starters, one of the reasons I fell in love with Tyler is his sense of adventure and seemingly unquenchable desire to experience everything the world has to offer. For those of you know who know me well, adventurous wouldn’t be one of the first adjectives used to describe me. I’m a straight arrow kind of girl – my path, albeit an amazing one, has pretty much been set since birth, at least in general ideology. I’ve happily traveled along it for 28 years, straying only occasionally in the most benign ways. To toot my own horn, I’m quite fantastic at doing what I’m supposed to do and being Type-A. Tyler respects this part of my personality, and though it sometimes leads to disagreements, we’re both pretty adaptable and have chosen to use our differences to make our relationship stronger. We are the cliche – we balance each other out.

But a part of me has always wanted to be a little different – more spontaneous, less afraid – ready to embrace whatever the world throws at me, confident in my ability to deal with it. In other words, and borrowing from a 1990’s Nike slogan, I want to be like Tyler. What better way to embrace spontaneity for the first time in my life than to quit my job and travel the world with my husband for a year? My mom always said if you’re going to do something, really DO it, don’t half-ass it. I’m taking her advice and applying it to a situation she thoroughly dislikes, but at least she’ll know I’ve been listening all these years.

So that’s the nutshell version of reason number 1 for me to take this trip – be who I am but grow and learn and adapt and embrace not having things planned for an entire year. My hope is that by the end of it, I will not only embrace spontaneity and randomness and the unknown, but will thoroughly enjoy it.

My reason number 2 (and this may be Tyler’s reason number 1, though don’t hold me to that) can be summed up by 2 simple words: why not? The American Dream is alive and well (kind of), but whose to say it can’t be improved and molded to fit a new generation of intelligent, hard-working, but more adventurous individuals? I understand why the idea evolved into the stereotypical plan: get an education, get married, work hard for 40-50 years, save money, retire, do something fun, die. I am by no means wise, but even I can see the holes in that plan. There are no guarantees in life, which if you didn’t fully grasp before, should understand now after experiencing the Great Recession. Moreover, health and death are wholly unpredictable and life is cruel, a fact Tyler and I have experienced a multitude of times over the past few years as we’ve witnessed the death of a grandfather, great-uncle, uncle, best friend’s mom, best friend’s dad, and a plethora of grandparents of our friends. Though your response may be “well, that’s life” – what about their American Dream plans? What about the spouses who now don’t get to enjoy that retirement fun like they were supposed to because cancer had other plans? Even more scary are the health problems people our age are already facing. There are no guarantees. We have this one life (ignore my Hindu upbringing and belief in reincarnation for the moment) – we have to live it.  So our new version of the American Dream is to turn the old one on its head a bit and to take “mini-retirements” – enjoy life as we live it – don’t wait for that eventual someday to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.

The inexhaustive list of other reasons I’ve decided to go on this excellent adventure, in no particular order, are: love traveling, explore cultures, eat whatever I can get my hands on, make new friends, strengthen my relationship with my hubby, learn Spanish, learn cooking techniques from around the world, learn to scuba and get certified, learn to surf, snorkel, read until my eyes hurt, re-learn to write like a normal person and not like a lawyer, re-kindle my passion for social science academia (i.e. let my inner nerd shine once again), and most importantly, volunteer and give back  in whatever small and large ways possible to a world that has given me so much.

Lastly, and this is perhaps the culmination of everything above, but I think this experience will make  me a better wife, daughter (&in-law), sister (someday in-law – Jay’s really going to love reading that), friend, co-worker, employee… and hopefully someday, mother. I am the product of my life experiences, and  the effect of this year’s adventure will be immeasurable. I hope someday my future child/ren will read our journal – the beautiful leather bound book gifted to us by our dear friend Jen R. – and feel a sense of pride, awe, inspiration, adventure, and most importantly, the understanding that they too can make life what they want it to be.

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