For those of you who haven’t already heard, after spending the last year of my life in 18 different countries, I am back in the good ‘ole U S of A. Fellow travelers warned me that returning home after nearly a year on the road would be difficult, and they were right. On the one hand, I was overjoyed to see my family, my dog, and Magic Mike (Hell yes! This country rules!). On the other hand, after experiencing so many things, and spending a year living a life that is so different from the reality of most Americans, it is sometimes hard to relate to people at home.
Like the other day, when I overheard two women complaining about having trouble finding an expensive designer handbag and I wanted to shout “I saw a baby die in Ethiopia! Probably of a preventable disease!” But I didn’t. Because it would have been really awkward. But I do really wish that those women knew how many vaccines that stupid handbag could pay for… Or how many days of travel in Ethiopia it could pay for so they could get out there and see the world for themselves and stop complaining about such seriously stupid sh*t. My point is this: I am not the same person that I was a year ago.
Traveling inspired me to reevaluate my priorities. (Or maybe reevaluating my priorities inspired me to travel?) I was reminded that, as far as I know, I only have one shot at having an awesome life, and then I am going to die. (And I am damn lucky to have that one shot. In many parts of the world, people are born into much more difficult circumstances that are nearly impossible to overcome, if they survive childhood at all.) So I decided not to go back to the practice of law. Instead, I will build a career around my lifelong passion and the initial inspiration for my year of travel – food (and keep the promise that I made to myself long ago: that I would be my own boss by 30). My parents created an amazing and successful restaurant concept that I will be helping them to expand. I am super excited about opening our second location in September. (Shameless plug: Like us on Facebook!) In the meantime, I have been learning the business and rotating through all of the restaurant positions so that I can master and teach them to future employees. It has been hard work, but also a lot of fun.
One night, I was bartending and one of the customers began to chat me up. He overheard me discussing my travels and wanted to know when I would be returning to the law firm. When I told him I wasn’t planning to go back, he sneered. “What are you going to do with your life, then? This?” He gestured around the restaurant. I summoned my newly discovered inner-Buddha, said, “Yep,” and walked away. But my inner Miami biz-natch wanted to grab that guy by his ugly necktie and say, “I spent the last year of my life in 18 different countries. I ate in the best restaurants in the world.
I did yoga in India. I climbed mountains and volcanoes. I swam with whale sharks. I bathed a baby elephant.
I hugged tigers. I watched the sun set over countless beaches and swam in warm, crystal clear oceans. I got lost and then found my way back. I touched the cool marble of the Taj Mahal. I made lifelong friends. I relied on strangers. I wandered around the ruins of Pompeii. The beauty of the Hagia Sofia brought me to my knees. I lost myself in Barcelona’s Picasso museum. I drank too much wine in Rome while the city erupted in riots around me. I was dwarfed by the magnificence of the Acropolis. I learned traditional dance in Ethiopia. I saw the killing fields in Cambodia. I ate my way through Vietnam’s delectable street food offerings. I wandered along the Great Wall. I hiked through small Burmese villages filled with the sounds of children’s laughter. I craned my neck to look up at the tallest building in the world in Dubai. I explored the temples of Angkor Wat. I rappelled down a huge waterfall.
I stared down a rhinoceros. I drank the best wines that South Africa had to offer. I fell in love with an amazing man. And now I am working hard at something I believe in – creating a great food experience that will bring people joy. What are YOU doing with YOUR life?” But, again, that would have been awkward.
No related posts.