There was a time in my life—about 6 or 7 years ago—when I fantasized about being older and getting to travel. Those dreams were incomplete, mostly because as a teenager it is difficult to imagine where marriage and children fit in with career goals. In fact, it was difficult to imagine how travel fit in with my career goals.
I’m beginning to realize that for those of us who dream of traveling the world—and even more so for those of us who plan on working where we travel—there are great sacrifices that must be made. In 2012, I have missed Easter, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, family and friends’ birthdays, Independence Day, Halloween, and I am about to miss the upcoming Holiday season entirely. Leaving alone the missed holidays (which I will mention the Ugandans have very warmly made these days special for me and they are therefore not disappointing), I must also consider sacrificing the time with dozens of people that I love dearly, whom I have come to accept I must wait yet another year to see.
I turn 23 today; my first birthday away from America, friends, and family.
The list of sacrifices may feel heavy, but during my 22nd year I have:
1. Graduated from University
2. Been to the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans (within 4 months of each other)
3. Fed giraffes and went scuba diving in Kenya
4. Founded a 501(c)3 non-profit organization…FDEC Foundation…look us up ;)
5. Nearly completed the first major fund-raising campaign for FDEC Foundation
6. Wandered the streets of a post-Olympic London
7. Went on three wildlife safaris
8. Befriended people from all over the US, Canada, UK, Uganda, and Japan
9. Visited three more States (Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey)
10. Lived completely on my own (as in sans roommates) for the first time (and in East Africa, which I feel deserves extra self-pride)
11. Proudly became the adopted aunt to dozens of incredible children for whom my love is eternal
12. Had my first “vacation” in which I left home/work in Uganda, visited home/America for three weeks, and then returned to home/work in Uganda
13. Racked up almost enough airline miles to get a free international ticket
Not a bad year.
A part of me does wish I were celebrating this day with a cold beer on tap while sitting at a table with my loved ones waiting on a hot fudge brownie with a candle and a dozen forks to be served… but I really can’t complain that I will begin my 23rd year in East Africa. I’m sure I can teach the kids the Happy Birthday song for me…
PS…before you feel bad for me “being alone…” you should know that I get to share this day with Amelia, who has already given me Hocus Pocus, my ballot (which I voted, and sent back with RPU to put it in the mail), E.L. Fudge cookies, and mini-bottles of Rum. :) I’m well taken care of on this end!