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Musings in South America My adventures, if any of interest should arise, as I prepare for my South American expedition to Peru, Argentina, and Chile.

Midwestern Road Trip and Thoughts before leaving for South America

USA | Wednesday, 15 May 2013 | Views [254] | Comments [2]

Written around 5/15/13 in Lawrence, KS, USA       

             Less than two weeks before I disembark on my long-anticipated trip outside of my hemisphere, as well as my comfort zone, I realize that I am in the midst of a travel trial run in the college town of Lawrence, Kansas, home of my alma mater. I returned home to the Kansas City area for Mother’s Day and decided to stay the entire week in order to attend a graduation party the following weekend. In the meantime, I have been making plans to see the many friends I have acquired throughout the span of my life ranging from elementary school to college. Of course, the world doesn’t stop because I’m in town. During the day while everyone is at work, I fill my days traveling about, checking out the local attractions I had taken for granted or completely ignored while I lived here, and spending time in the mobile person’s favorite hangout- the coffee shop.

The coffee shop is a location with several functions. It can provide a social atmosphere where you can recharge, meet with friends, and even make new friends. Or it can be made into a refuge of solitude where you can escape inward with the help of a laptop or great book. It’s a traveller’s staple location to explore the general vibe of a place, and one of the few places where one can venture alone without feeling awkward. As I sip coffee in front of a laptop screen in one of the many coffeeshops I frequented as a student, I can’t help but reminisce about the golden years of college life, which was only a few years ago but feels like a lifetime..

While a student, I was exposed to many new ideas and was saturated with wonder about the world, how it worked, and the people in it. I was invincible, curious, and the world was at my fingertips. I wanted to see the world and make it a better place. I felt my possibilities were limitless. In hindsight, although the possibilities my liberal arts degree afforded me were real, they were perhaps better characterized as undefined and vague. After graduation, I realized college had given me a lot, but no defined career path. I didn’t know what to do or even what career options I had. I relocated to Dallas, Texas, where my boyfriend had moved to pursue his career, leaving all of my friends, family, and everything familiar behind. Eventually, a few months after graduation, my idealism caved to the real world demands of paying bills, and I got myself a good paying corporate job working for a post-foreclosure eviction attorney at a mortgage company. Wait...what? I had wanted to help people, not kick them out of the homes. What happened? Despite the promotions, pay raises, and three and a half years as a valued member of the company, the spark and excitement for life and its spontaneity that had ignited during college had all but fizzled by the time I opted for a lay off instead of accepting a position to be relocated to Houston.

While a layoff is generally not considered a good thing, this was a godsend. I needed out, but there’s no way I would have sacrificed my comfy managerial position to make the decision myself. Resisting the temptation to follow the job leads that many of my coworkers had given me who were in the same sinking ship as I was, I decided I needed a break. Instead of attending job fairs and going to interviews, I planned a trip to South America. One of my best friends from childhood and I had been planning a two week trip to Machu Pichu and Buenos Aires, and the sudden open calendar meant I could stay longer. Ever since I had taken this job, I had been lamenting the fact that I had no time to pursue my dream of traveling to South America, and now I had the opportunity to quit whining and make it happen.

This will be a test to see if I can awaken the idealist hungry for adventure that I hope still inhabits the core underneath this shell that has grown accustomed to routine and comfort. The last leg of this trip will be my first crack at solo travel, something that always seemed daunting for someone like me, a relative introvert who earned the nickname “Bones” after the painfully socially awkward forensic anthropologist in the TV show, Bones. But this experience will force me to talk to new people. I’m sure I’ll rely on many strangers for directions and help along the way. It will also force me to use Spanish, which was my major in college, but which I’m usually too shy to use in Dallas. Basically, I need something to wake me up out of this funk and remind me who I was, who I am, and who I can be. I think travel is the best and quickest remedy. And during the downtime, there is always the coffeeshop.

Tags: coffeeshop, college life, introspection, kansas, lawrence, road trip

 

Comments

1

Can't wait to read about your adventures!!

  Harmony May 29, 2013 5:47 AM

2

Well said, Kristina. While on my "tour," I couldn't imagine ever working in an office again, and I completely changed my direction in life. Yes, it did lead back to an office eventually, but I knew what I didn't want in an office, too. Good luck and can't wait to hear more.

  Rita Jun 1, 2013 9:38 PM

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