The weekend was update-free here at LOW due to a trip down south, back to the alma mater, Rice University. It was the fourth biennial Rice Baseball Alumni Game. It’s always great to catch up again with all of the guys, seeing what they’re up to. New this time around was how just about everyone was now married and having children. Most of the guys I played with had pregnant wives or were already taking care of little ones (or both!). This is a strange duality to me because up here in DC, at 26, we are still considered very young to even be married. (On more than one occasion my ring has elicited a “weird …”.)
But as everyone was catching up, my future plans came up a lot when I mentioned I was finishing in the fall. (Theresa tells me I have to state this as a fact instead of saying “hopefully” or “if everything works out” or “I plan to.” I get the feeling she’s not interested in staying here too much longer …) And so I launched into our plans of world travel and exploration. Which got the same kind of response that I get when I say I’m married in DC. In all fairness, one kindred spirit had recently finished his own round the world trip (and we had a great conversation with him), so the response was not completely unanimous.
A lot of the guys (and girls) responded by saying they had never even left the country, and didn’t really understand why you possibly would. Now some of this comes from the typically Texan idea that nothing could ever be better than Texas, but it also was about security, family and comfort. It was pretty clear that we were currently on two different paths. Theresa likes to talk about wishing she could run two parallel lives … well this was it, exemplified. All of my Houston friends had married, settled down and were starting families. They had support networks of family, lifelong friends and good jobs (at least well paying if not completely satisfying). They knew which restaurants had the best steaks, and where to go for fajitas. They never got lost driving around the city, nor did they have to deal with the hassles of public transportation. Meanwhile, here were Theresa and I, who couldn’t wait to quit our jobs/finish our programs and leave all that comfort and security behind so we could run around the world with only what we could carry on our backs. Now who are the crazies? You have to admit, at times staying put makes a pretty compelling rational argument.
The point is, I guess, that it is all a matter of personal preference, and really has little to do with rationality. (This is probably much too tolerant a statement to put on the internet.) My friends would be happy staying right where they are, in the same house, in the same neighborhood, in the same city, the rest of their lives. They have no desire to wander. And there are times when I wonder why that isn’t enough for me too. But for whatever reasons, that just doesn’t cut it. I need to explore. Deal with getting lost. Have the enjoyment of “discovering” the best restaurant in a new place. Slowly and painfully come to understand a completely different culture. Befriend all the wacky and interesting people you meet. Survive the bizarre events that inevitably occur. And feel invigorated by it all. Because a routine just does not inspire me the way an adventure does. So, anyway, thanks for listening while I justify how I am. I hope it made some sense to you.
Now, all that being said, my friends, the ones perfectly happy to never leave their hometown, are exactly the ones we need to convince to travel. As a case in point, one of our friends didn’t realize there were not feeder roads off of every highway (Houston is pretty much the only city I know that envelops every highway with another two lanes of “local” traffic on each side). It’s both interesting and useful to be exposed to a number of different ways to solve problems, mainly that there are other ways. You start to see things from other perspectives. And if you still like things like “home,” you appreciate it more. So it enriches your hometown as well. I know when I travel, I appreciate all the little things I often take for granted when I return (everything from free public restrooms to a good hamburger to signs in English). So we did our best to convince everyone that it would be great idea to travel themselves. I think we convinced nobody. But whaddya gonna do? They all have little rugrats running around. That’s why we’re still on the rolling five year plan with kids. We still have too much wandering to do ourselves.