Iyanla Vanzant famously said that if you want to hear God laugh, then you only need to tell Him your plans.
Within hours of announcing that we would be leaving Minnesota for Mexico at the end of the week, foreboding weather forecasts inundated the local tv stations, heralding a winter apocalypse that would be sweeping across the U.S. and directly into our projected path.
Just as we had decided it was time to leave, it seemed the universe was telling us otherwise.
This week marked two big milestones for us: We celebrated the eight year anniversary of the day we met, and we also happened to do it while marking one full month of location independence in Mexico.
As we quaffed icy cold beers and watched the sky bleed from cotton candy pink into a glowing fuschia, we remarked to one another that it’s crazy to think it was EIGHT YEARS ago that our lives intersected and consequently changed profoundly and irrevocably. All at once, it feels like the years have flown by and barely any time has passed. But it also feels like we are each other’s constant, like we’ve been together for way longer than “just” eight years, and it’s impossible to envision a world or a life in which the other person isn’t there.
In its own way, life in Mexico has been much the same. Logically, I know that we’ve been here for a month, but it feels like we’re only getting started. After a month here, I feel like we should have something insightful or, at the very least, decisive to say about Mexico.
Instead, all I really feel qualified to say unequivocally is that Mexico sure gets some pretty sunsets. Oh, and that there is, in fact, such a thing as too many tacos.
One of my favorite things about traveling is when we find ourselves somewhere that defies all attempts to describe it. Often these places are impossibly beautiful, but they also tend to be incredibly foreign and unabashedly unique as well. I always hold a special place in my heart for these places, the ones that are so singular that you could never mistake them for anywhere else on the planet. Their “otherness” befuddles and bewilders me, and as I attempt to reconceptualize a world in which they and everywhere else I have ever experienced exist in parallel to one another, I feel as though I am acutely aware of my mind expanding.
I can never predict in advance which places will cause my synapses to explode in sensory fireworks, but I have felt this way while wandering through the chaotic, colorful streets of Kathmandu, Nepal and the close, cluttered streets of Hanoi as cauldrons of soup bubble alongside women who support themselves by selling zippers and buttons amongst a steady stream of motorcycles. I have felt it while gazing out on the rolling rice terraces of southern China while diving alongside prehistoric behemoth bumphead parrotfish in Borneo and while wandering the remains of a mighty empire in Rome. These are places where a surprise exists around every corner, where the stories run deep and history is palpable. They make the world not only feel large, but limitless too, and they reignite my excitement to spend my life exploring and witnessing what our planet has to offer. Stumbling upon these kind of places is one of the things that makes a life of travel so rewarding for me.
Often it has felt that in order to have a brush with “the other”, we have to be physically as far from home as possible; our recent road trip through Utah, which we kicked off in Moab, was a great reminder that this need not be the case.
My obsession began within seconds of seeing the “Welcome to Colorado” sign.
“So, we’re definitely going to see some mountains today, right?” I asked.
“Yup. Just wait,” Tony replied.
“OK,” I said, squirming around in my seat as I craned my neck to and fro, hoping a little extra height would allow me to catch a glimpse of some snow-capped peaks somewhere across the disappointingly smooth terrain. But it was hopeless. As far as my eyes could see, it was flat. A pretty flat, as golden plains rolled out to meet the cornflower blue sky, but flat nonetheless.
Fans of Arrested Development know the moment I’m talking about, but even if you’ve (wrongly) never watched the show, I’m betting you’re still familiar with what I mean. It’s that moment that comes after you’ve made a big decision or change, that moment when you feel like everything you’ve been working towards is crumbling and life just seems impossibly hard. It’s the time when you feel like you’re teetering on the edge of catastrophe and the only thing left to say is those infamous words: I’ve made a huge mistake.