I always wanted to travel. From a very early age, I wanted to go everywhere, see everything, converse in other languages. I spent hours in the library reading about faraway places, whispering phonetically written phrases in strange languages. I never doubted I would make it everywhere I wanted to go.
I have done a fair amount of travelling and had many adventures. I have turned a corner to see a brown bear eating cabbage in the moat of a castle, gotten lost hiking in the Norwegian wilderness and climbed ancient bell towers in Estonia. My first overseas trip was almost ten years ago. In the years that followed, I did a lot more travelling. But all of these voyages were but practice for my ultimate goal – to travel around the world.
I get sentimental thinking about the trip around the world. One day in 2007, I realized with that enough planning and saving, I could travel the world for a year. For the next two years, I squirreled away money, took Russian classes, read reviews on hostels, memorized train schedules, priced airfares and planned and replanned the route over and over again. I planned to leave in January 2011.
This trip was going to be my masterpiece. I was going to start in Ecuador, then on to Peru to see Cusco, Nazca and Machu Picchu; fly out of Santiago, Chile, to Easter Island, where I would breathe in the ancient magic of the moa; from Easter Island to New Zealand by way of Tahiti; three weeks in NZ, from Te Reinga to skydiving in Christchurch; five weeks in Australia, travelling by train to see the Great Barrie Reef, Melbourne, Tasmania, Uluru, and Darwin; then north to tour southeast Asia, starting in Singapore, moving through Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam; three weeks in Nepal hiking the Himalayas; Turkey, starting in Istanbul; on to Israel and Egypt to see the remnants of ancient civilizations; climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; Namibia to see the Skeleton Coast; Botswana to see the Okavango Delta; and finishing in South Africa.
Of course, we all know that I didn’t travel around the world because I got sick. In 2009, I lost a significant amount of hearing, and I spent a lot of the money I had saved for the trip on trying not to go deaf. And from then I just got sicker and sicker, and I needed all my money for health costs, and I wasn’t physically able to travel like that anymore. It was never going to happen. It became a symbol of all the things I had lost to my failing health.
I used to have dreams often that I was going on an exciting trip and was either late for my flight or couldn’t find my passport. Now I have dreams that I leave all my medication at home. My body dictates my life, even in my sleep.
I spend a lot of time thinking about the things that I want to do, the big things. And no matter how many times I remind myself that I can’t travel around the world, I just want to do it anyway. My spirit is stronger than my body. It has hope that my logical mind suppressed years ago. Our dreams sustain us, even if they are unlikely. Sometimes especially if they are unlikely.
I don’t know if I’ll ever take a trip like the one I painstakingly planned. There are many reasons why it is improbable. But I have to hope that I can. I can live in a world where I have mast cell disease as long as I don’t have to live in a world where I could never travel around it.
Life is nothing without hope.