Talking with one of my friends a few weeks ago, I expressed how there were so many things I still wanted to do in life. Her bright eyes widened, looking into mine, and she exclaimed, “You’re not dead yet!” I had to laugh at this- laugh at myself. For some reason, it always seems to me that I’m running out of time. But here was my friend, in her (very) early forties, telling me- a decade younger- to snap out of it. She and her husband were about to visit Panama the following week. And here I was, complaining about my travel forecast looking dreary, when I already visited Panama in 2007.
After all, life is different now. I’m not single and carefree like I was in my twenties. My priorities have changed. I’m more interested in establishing myself in a career than running away from reality. I want stability. I don’t mind cooking. To my 21-year-old self, I might even seem boring, or, dare I say, domestic? (Oh man, that one hurt to write!!! What would Jack Kerouac had said of my life now!?) Ayayay. Nonetheless, as my friend reminded me, I am still very much alive.
I have the beginnings of a family, but I don’t think I’ll ever let children seem a hindrance to traveling- it’s even more of a motivation! I want to share these experiences with the people I love, and have my future children exposed to all the wonderful possibilities out there in the world. And though I’ve changed, I don’t think “boring” will ever be an accurate adjective to describe me. “Crazy”, maybe, but not dull.
I mention my 21-year-old self because I found a bucket list I wrote when I was still at UCLA. When I wrote it, barely into my twenties, the farthest I had been away from “home” was the short trip I took with my parents to see my oldest brother in Tucson, Arizona. He was getting his Master’s degree at the time, and I was only 19. This was my very first airplane flight. I remember being afraid to take a flight alone from Los Angeles back to San Jose. Obviously, that fear was conquered.
So as I initially wrote my bucket list, I vividly remember how unobtainable all of my dreams seemed. Amidst my books, poems, essays, work, and all-night study sessions, this kind of freedom and discovery seemed like a pipe dream. This is an edited version of my 2002 bucket list:
- Go skydiving
Go bungee jumping Go rock climbing(only in-doors was achieved) Live in Argentina
- Visit the following:
New York Florida Cuba Spain
Malaysian Borneo(to volunteer withsee Orangutans in their naturala semi-natural environment)
China Africa(Ummm… Didn’t I realize Africa is a continent with 52 countries???) Costa Rica Peru Colombia Iceland
- N’ Orleans
Japan Netherlands Become fluent in Spanish
- Do conservation volunteer work in Australia
- Go to an MFA program in Fiction (Didn’t do that, but instead,
Got an MA in Latin American Studies, totally unplanned and completely worth it!)
- Write and complete a novel (Still working on that!)
Have purple hair Get a 2nd tattoo(Yeah, I have six now and am just getting started!) Get(yet another?!) piercing in a different place Learn more about botany/zoology
- Meet Bjork
- Have an art exposition of my own art (um, that would require drawing/painting more!)
- Learn to play the drums
Ride a motorcycle
- Learn how to swing dance
- Visit Jack Kerouac’s hometown and grave
Watch “The Godfather
- Have blonde hair (Tried it, got close, but it only turned orange )
Cut my hair super short Go to the James Lick Observatory Visit the snow: go skiing, make snowmen, etc.
This was my more-than-ten-years-ago self, and the things that I have accomplished have been crossed out. Looking back, I really didn’t think that I would be able to travel so much. And ironically, some of the simplest things (and closest in proximity) are those that I’ve put off the longest. Undoubtedly, my bucket list has changed a bit in the last decade, but it still contains some left overs. Stay tuned for my Bucket List Part II…