A few weeks back, I was checking out at TJMaxx purchasing a scratch off map of The United States. The cashier, a girl I knew, asked me, “Why are you buying a map?” Her tone was that of, ‘it’s totally weird that you are buying a map.’ Instead of getting defensive, I quickly summed up my love of travel for her. This got me thinking though. Why did she find it so odd that I was buying a map?
Prior to buying a scratch off map of The United States, a few years ago, I bought a scratch off map of the world shortly after returning from home studying abroad. I had just spent three months in Rome, Italy. I also have a map of Rome that hangs in my room. If I see a map I have to stop and examine at it. I am entranced by maps. My attention is immediately captured by them. They represent where you have been and where you can go.
After I returned from studying abroad, I felt like I could conquer the world. During my time abroad I did so many things outside of my comfort zone. I tried new foods, climbed an active Volcano, went truffle hunting, free swam off of a boat in Capri, and explored many Italian cities on my own. As I found myself doing these things, I found myself opening up to the world around me. I was never really scared of the world, yet I was finding myself less scared of it as each day passed. I felt as though I could do anything I put my mind to. While in Rome, my classmates and I participated in a scavenger hunt around the eternal city. (My team won!) A task that would have been so daunting at the beginning of my time there, was suddenly so simple after living there almost two months. As we deciphered the clues, and navigated Rome without a map, it was a feeling like no other. I navigated a foreign city without a map. That to me, was pretty darn awesome. How many people can say they did that? I’m forever grateful for the girl I became because of traveling abroad. Three years later and I still want to be that girl.
Beyond that, traveling represents so much more to me. It represents a girl I strive to be. A girl who is adventurous. A girl who isn’t afraid. A girl with a smile plastered on her face wondering where the world will take her next. A girl willing to learn something new everyday. I want to always be that girl. This is why owning a map is so important to me.
One of my favorite quotes is,”I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” I want to drop pins in new places on maps as often as I can. I want to travel to new cities, and states, and countries. One of my goals is to travel to all 50 states. I want to travel to the countries of my heritage. I want there to be nothing left to scratch off on my maps.
Traveling makes me into a girl I love. I will never give that up. When she asked me, “Why are you buying a map?” I should have responded with, “I love the girl it represents.”