Paris, France yo. That’s what my friend Heather is here to tell us all about today, because Heather (lucky girl!) took a trip to Paris, France for her 24th birthday. Heather has traveled a lot and is here to share a little bit about the travel bug. (note from Allison)
In 2007 my aunt and I took a long weekend trip to Paris, France for my 24th birthday. It was lovely as ever and Paris, being Paris. It was exactly as advertised: The women were chic the clothes made me drool and I had no qualms about purchasing ridiculously expensive Parisian tights because then I could go home and be all, “Oh, you like these tights? Yeah, they’re from PARIS. FRANCE.” and then flounce away. That was my last trip to Europe. Up until a month ago I was OK with that. I mean, I travel regularly around the continental US though I never leave the “lower 48”. Even though I reside in Upstate New York, I can give you a tour of the District of Columbia with my eyes closed and I recently returned from a 48 hour jaunt through San Francisco. Heck, I once went to Salt Lake City solely because I wanted to try snowboarding and what better place to attempt to test your center of gravity than Wasatch mountain range?
What happened a month ago was this: I was perusing Instagram and noticed a photo from a friend of mine who is an American citizen but lives in Melbourne, Australia. It was a simple photo of her absentee ballot and instead of thinking “Yay! Democracy!” I thought “Why don’t I live abroad?”. It’s something that has come to mind ever so briefly and I’m quick to brush it off because I have responsibilities. If you could call a cat and apartment real responsibilities. There are no children or husband. My parents, both about to retire are both healthy and too busy making plans that involve golfing in Hawaii and running away to Martha’s Vineyard, so they’re all set. I have a job – a career – but leaving the country in 2012 is not like leaving the country in 2002. We now have Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Blogs, Email. It’s not like I’d have to send out a weekly fax to let folks know that I’m still alive and kicking. So, really what is holding me back?
Nerves. I’d go with nerves first and foremost. Back in 2005 during my senior year of college I ‘studied’ in Madrid for six months. I, of course, use the word ‘studied’ very loosely as I was well on my way to graduation. There were visits to the Cantabrian Sea, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, a week through Andalucia, Seville and Cordoba. I stood at the most western point of Portugal, I watched a macaques snatch a friend’s bottle of sunscreen on the Rock of Gibraltar and went to the market in Marrakech. In every sense of the word: Perfection. Though I shouldn’t neglect to mention that my first four weeks in Madrid I spent in tears because nothing was like my normal then again what’s the point of traveling to Europe to partake in your usual?
Back to the viewing of a photo of a simple absentee ballot. It was in that moment that I switched from iPhone to Firefox and looked at visa requirements, I redid my budget, I started to check out Airbnb for three to six month stint…somewhere…anywhere in the world. I was at once excited at the thought of packing up in leaving and nervous at the thought. Savings would need to be ramped up – so much for those cognac booties I saw on Zappos – changes would need to be made. But! It would and could be done.