I recall vividly, sitting Indian style as most children do, in my bedroom closet with tears streaming down my face. The room contained only walls, my whimpers echoing in the empty void.. Today was moving day & I fucking hated it. I lived on 76th Ave my whole life & being just shy of my tenth birthday, the entire universe was collapsing around me.

I often wonder where my life may have led had we not packed our life in boxes & transported them deeper into the Chicago suburbs. I giggle with the image of hands grasping school colored pom poms or an over filled gym  crowd cheering after my winning shot. Walking into a friend’s house has the same effect,  staring at accomplishments scattered on living room walls, gives me the same what if’s.

It takes sometime for one to feel home in their skin. At 25, I’ve only just begun to wipe my shoes before entering the front door. Only now, do I know what being me really is. I’m a hardass & have an ego as large as a professional athlete, yet the only difference is I earned my title. We’ve all had it rough, I have never encountered someone with the perfect life. Who the fuck even said there was a perfect life? Why in the hell do we strive to make other people accept us?

So here I am, sobbing in my parents apartment, just absolutely wanting to die. How could my parents do this? With the last of the boxes stacked in my dad’s red Dodge van, we pulled away, crunching gravel as we headed to our new life.

The first week we moved in, my sister broke her arm & I received five beautiful stitches on my right knee. Both incidents happened on a hill while riding our bicycles. We were city girls placed in suburbia, the only time we were ever able to ride bikes was in the parking lot of our apartment complex.

So now you’re thinking, what the hell does this have to do with why she started traveling? Well, having no degree in psychology, I can only give you my best guess. I recall the first day of school, rising hours before the bus was going to roll at the end of the drive. I spent all of that morning perfecting my hair, painting my nails, making sure there were no creases in my outfit. I was the new girl in school & didn’t want to fuck up the first impression. Looking back, I want to shake that girl. Fuck them, who gives a shit what they think, be you! Over the next 13 years, this morning ritual would be repeated, tirelessly & endlessly. Acceptance was the only thing I yearned & I practically killed myself doing it.

Throughout the years, I’ve lived many lives, none I am proud of, yet they molded me to who you see today. I honestly don’t even know how I’m still alive, recalling days snorting massive amounts of cocaine after getting off a shift at the local strip club. I even attempted college once, what a fucking joke. Don’t do it, what a waste of money. But hey, you’re talking to the girl who would blow $300 a night on booze, make-up, & drugs.

There came a point, somewhere around my early twenties, when enough became enough. I needed to get out, rip myself out of this fish bowl. I was living alone in a small apartment by my parents & the lease was ending the following week. I went on Craigslist, found a gig in New Orleans, bought a flight that day & packed everything into two bags. I remember taking off, tears running down my face. I still to this day don’t know why the hell I was crying. Was it because I was going to miss familiar faces? Or the first time going to an unfamiliar place? Happy to start a new life?

Over the next few years, I would come home, after long stints on the road with every return leaving me unsatisfied. I always expected everyone to have changed, just as I had. Nope, still a bunch of drunken scumbags. I’ll probably piss a lot of people off by saying that, but I don’t care what they think of me any longer.

I spent a good portion of my life wanting the world to accept me. I was wandering down a path, lonely & lost. Somewhere along the road, I discovered it’s not the world I needed to be worried about. I was so wrapped up in perception, I hadn’t realize my only enemy was my own damn self. I wasn’t comfortable with this girl’s whom body I lay in, a stranger to myself. I’m thankful for having found this golden nugget so early on in my life. Had I not, I truly believe I would be six feet under.

The road saved me, I owe her my life. As a kid, driving down a highway, I would often see a weary traveler, looking a bit too dirty for my liking & everything he owned on his back. I’m thinking…get a job. Why don’t you have a home? Why do you choose to smell like a school gym? With having everything I own on my back, walking nowhere in particular, & not having the luxury of taking a shower, now I know.

When you let go of everything you think that matters, the things that do actually matter, can’t be seen. It’s nights spent around a campfire with strangers, hearing a trucker telling you his best hooker story, bathing in an ocean, seeing the Big Dipper from every angle, eating your last can of beans, standing with your thumb out in the middle of fucking nowhere. These moments, the good & the bad, are going to test you, define you, turn you into a butterfly. Not the outfit you wore to the club last night, not the bachelor’s degree you don’t use, not even the twelve fucking zeroes at the end of your bank account. In the end, it’s going to be you in your death bed, wondering, did I give it my all? Did I have a good fucking time?

I travel because it’s who I am. I live for the moment, a life with no regrets. I don’t have a job, a brand new sedan, a college graduation cap on my parents wall, or a place to call home, fuck that shit. I have discovered true happiness & all which is needed, is a good pair of shoes.