Ask me for a significant extremity or highlight from my intrepid travels and sure as hell, my mind blanks; I come up with something that remotely suffices yet rarely encapsulates the stellar highs and the distressing lows.
There’s something special about imprudently submerging myself in an unfamiliar place that ardently evoked a curious nature within myself. Instead of habitually gravitating towards the commonplace, I found myself curiously drawn to the unusual and marveling at the world through puzzled yet inquisitive eyes.
The world is considerably safer than the mainstream media would like an individual to believe. Certainly, caution is a must, and it is important to wholly trust your gut; however, being terrified of every new encounter, place and every stranger you come across only does you a hefty disservice. Painstakingly letting go of over-thinking has been a personal massive step in the right direction to truly luxuriating in and experiencing all that life has to offer. I have diligently adopted a “Don’t Think, Just Do” attitude and no longer devise a pros and cons chart in my mind before entirely jumping in and experiencing something new.
When I first entered California after a scenically rich drive through Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Illinois, Utah, and Indiana, I felt like I had crossed the border into nirvana. The comfort of cozy familiarity was utterly gone and I was a stranger in each new place. The new experiences rapidly stacked up and deep-rooted personal lessons and enduring personal growths were hard-learned. Ample lessons on patterns that exist beyond the knowledge bubble I injudiciously operated from for the majority of my life came brutally shooting at me through urban challenges that I encountered.
Everything was bigger, brighter, euphoric, succulent and considerably sweeter. And as a seasoned devotee to living a raw vegan lifestyle, I jumped for joy at the news that there was a farmer’s market somewhere in LA every single day of the week.
I lived in Los Angeles for three months over this past summer. Initially, my intentions were to move to LA indefinitely. Though my intentions were pure, I later came to the guileless realization that though seduced by LA’s mediterranean climate and lush beaches, there was a whole dazzling world for me to courageously explore and that “home” is a feeling, not a place.
I fucking love and surely cannot stand Los Angeles. I do take pleasure in LA for its unabashed, brassy, profligate and downright shameless expression and attitude. I have observed dauntless individuals genuinely owning what they choose (consciously or subconsciously) to express without even remotely thinking twice. People forthrightly express themselves comfortably when they are in an environment where they feel safe doing so. Los Angeles provides a boldly fierce environment for an individual to brazenly walk down Sunset Boulevard in their 1970’s thrift store bra that their nanny may have worn while snorting coke off of her mistresses chest. I have learned that if an individual fears retaliation, ridicule, punishment or persecution in some form when expressing themselves, chances are they will stay silent and insecurely undemonstrative. Life is an eclectic freak show in Los Angeles, and I fucking love that piece of the puzzle.
Los Angeles is a place of complexity and teeming contradictions. The brassy culture and lifestyle requires a steadfast pace. It ranges extensively from multimillion dollar mansions to trashy studio apartments occupied by aspiring actors, comedians, writers, strippers, drug dealers, criminals, etc.
Los Angeles is a smorgasbord of beautiful, sexy, driven, nervy and downright fascinating individuals: every breed, color, and cultural group you can imagine lives in LA. I built friendships with some of the most hardworking, ambitious and loving individuals I have ever met. I lived in Echo Park right off of Sunset Boulevard aka the Los Angeles neighborhood that is a magnet for young creatives and artsy hipsters.
You have to have an exceptionally strong backbone in LA to sustain the wellbeing of your emotional and mental world. I had unfathomable unpleasant encounters with strangers in which I encountered some outright ruthless character traits of mine. Yes, you do have your scruffy bohemian spirits and dazed laborers, but there are some tight-fisted and shameless pricks that can leave an unfriendly taste in the mouth of a vulnerable and weak soul.
I quickly realized how high-strung, fast-paced and impetuous my life and I had become while living in LA, but I secretly enjoyed it. I indomitably established a bold, shameless, spunky, colorful and downright raw mindset that transformed me in a considerably deep way. The change began to manifest itself in my interpersonal relationships, and I am now inescapably able to create my own reality and discern what moves me, what inspires me, what I choose to accept, and what keeps me fueled.
Though I have fortunately never gone famished or wondered about my next meal, I had one experience that influenced me and stimulated a new viewpoint of priorities in my life. Imagine the haunting and hankering vision of a young child with a distended belly, dirty hands, and probing eyes giving a glaring and hungered stare at the food you were eating while senselessly waiting for the subway train to arrive…….
I had my headphones blaring while chewing away on my ripe, juicy mango that I subconsciously had the privilege of eating as I caught attention of this gaunt and bleak child. I felt my heart sink into my chest as I witnessed what appeared to be her mother incessantly begging footloose on-goers for money. Several thoughts immediately raced through my mind…..
- Why is this child not in school?
- This poor child is going to be psychologically fixed on the assumption that this is the proper way to live.
- Is this money that her mother is collecting really going toward food for her child?
- When did this child have her last meal?
- How has the mother psychologically morphed this child into playing a role to fund her habits?
- Jessica, you are not naive to the fact that there are a great deal of starving children all over the world, but you have never encountered this front and center.
- My thoughts and I don’t fucking matter in this situation; give this poor child all of the food that you have in your backpack.
I walked over to the child, and like a bat out of hell, the mother immediately and aggressively marched my way; I handed the child the remainder of my mango along with an assortment of fruits and vegetables I had in my backpack at the time (please do not praise me for this action), and proceeded to have a very frank conversation with her mother. I shed sorrowful tears as I mull over this ordeal and to this day, I have spine-chilling mental flashbacks and am curious as to how this child is being raised.
Travel transformed me in an irreparable way. Travel has recalibrated the point of view through which I approach complications and situations in my life, as it has given me a sense of unfeigned gratitude for what I have in my life through nothing more than circumstance of birth and experience. I have a mind that has the ability to expand and contract like a rubber band. I have two gypsy feet and a lively heartbeat. I have people who support my outlandish desires and a family who supports any lifestyle that I desire to live. I have the choice to choose what I do and do not accept in my life. I am far less introverted than I once was and have built exciting and meaningful friendships. It is through travel that I am able to create a lucidly rich understanding of myself, and other individuals.
Yes, the lifestyle I am currently living is quite nomadic and I have barely been able to stay in one place. I am presently back in Detroit, and have absolutely no idea as to how long and/or if I am interested in residing here for too long. Yes, I am renting a bewitching loft with a spectacular view of Downtown Detroit, but I am a vastly different human being and these tangible things do not hold the same appeal for me anymore. I did pick up a killer and astonishingly enjoyable weekend job at a local independent bar and typically write, wander, relax and pamper myself during the week. I am enjoying reflecting upon my experiences, spending time with my family/loved ones, and momentarily slowing down in Michigan, but I do feel the initial excitement of being in Detroit wearing off. I have found myself sitting quietly a lot, just thinking. I love my family and dear friends immensely, but I understand that I am not the same Jessica and I never will be again. I feel like a fish out of water right now. I am experiencing a wearisome transition as I adjust to slammed brakes and release from the constant movement and excitement involved within travel.
I am interested in living small, moving and living throughout the world, eating well, traveling and not bickering over renovations on a predetermined home. I am going to continue to boldly live a life without distressing cubicles, inessential dress pants or photocopy machines.
Though I have learned much, I understand less. The world is my classroom, and my view of the world has bountifully taken flight. I understand that outside of the microcosm of this country there is a pulsating array of individuals; so different from who I am, have ever been, and will ever become.
Next up, I am aiming to build an identity beyond the country borders. Nowadays, I feel more capable to take the proverbial step into another individuals’s shoes and imagine their struggles, complications, feel their hopes, and respect their successes and failures. I am interested in immersive travel experiences designed to deepen my understanding of other cultures. I am curiously yearning to experience and catch a glimpse of as much of the world as I possibly can.
Nevertheless, my gaze is fixated upon the horizon and I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, though I am aware that I certainly possess the talent, capabilities, mindset and drive to create absolutely any life that I am interested in living at any time.
So do you.