Why travel is so important to me
My background as a 2nd generation American with roots in both the Netherlands and Texas — combined with a childhood at the mercy of the US Army — contributes much to the attitude I have now towards travel and globalism. So much of a person’s worldview depends on what they experience in their earliest years, and that’s certainly true of me.
I was born in a pink military hospital in Honolulu, Hawaii, to a Texan mother and a 1st generation Dutch-American father, then spent 5 years of my childhood shuttling between various (and now-defunct) US army bases in Germany. That’s where my earliest childhood memories were made - in Frankfurt, in Berlin, in Florence and in Paris, in the many cities we visited when I was very, very young. For example, though I was too young to realize it, I was about 3 and living in Germany when the Berlin Wall fell. My earliest fuzzy, concentrate-too-hard-and-it’s-gone memory is of standing in front of the Eiffel Tower. My parents took advantage of our proximity and traveled as much as possible within Europe, taking me and my little sister (born in Weisbaden, Germany) along for the ride.
When we later moved to the states, I realized that what I thought was my “normal" American childhood — spent in an indecipherable language, with quaint architecture, in a foreign land, and moving every other year — was actually unusual. In short, I grew up traveling. I didn’t know any other way.
When I was 12, my dad’s retirement from the army was fast approaching, and he was able to choose his final station. He and my mother chose Fort Hood, Texas. My mother, born in Harlingen and raised in San Antonio, was ready to be closer to home and to her family. I went to middle school, then began and finished high school in the same city. I went from moving every 1-2 years to spending 6 years in the same place. Those were awkward years, as they usually are in anyone’s life. For many people, this is a jumping off point for identity formation. In my case, I had to navigate this aspect of growing up while anchoring, something I’d never known how to do, at the same time. I also had to do it in Killeen, Texas, a booming (and still booming, despite the lagging economy) military city of 100,000+ where tattoo parlors are without question the most artistic attraction in town.
After high school, I spent my college years near Dallas, with a semester abroad in Florence, Italy. Though I loved Denton, TX, I was restless after 4 years there, and ready to move on when graduation came. I felt a calling from Austin, and sure enough I found a full-time job there after college. I stayed in Austin for 3 years. I felt like I could be myself there, and that kept me there more than anything. Then I met Joe, someone who, though he’d grown up in the states, shared my passion for travel.
Our first date was on South Congress Ave in Austin, where we later ended up living. We went on our first trip - a 9 hour road trip - to New Orleans, just a month after meeting. Then we traveled internationally together for the first time in 2011 to Colombia. Since then I’ve scaled mountains with him to see Petra in Jordan, scuba dove alongside him in the Red Sea, explored the crumbling temples and ruins of Egypt, and sampled Spain’s best tapas with him – with several more trips in the works. We live in Dallas now, because that’s where our careers have led us, but it doesn’t hurt that DFW is a major international airport and airline hub — a perk we’re both more than happy to take advantage of.
Meeting Joe cemented something I already knew about myself - I would never be happy with a life that didn’t allow me to travel, to move about, to experience new cultures and places and languages. He values these experiences as I do. Everybody deserves to meet someone who understands them. Though I can, if necessary, go about a year at a time without any serious travel, I can’t imagine being with someone who didn’t understand this aspect of my life. To not understand the need to travel is to not understand me.