for the barefoot dreamer-

As years pass by and I grow older, I look back at my upbringing with less and less of the anger and shame that I carried with me throughout my adolescence. I am grateful to come from a class of people who work hard and who have clear convictions about right and wrong (we will withhold judgement for now on whether or not these ideas are in fact truly right and wrong).

I always think of my mother when I am insecure. My mother is loud and unapologetic in her delight. She enjoys the finer things of life but defines them for herself, thank you very much. A Bota box and some day-after-Valentine’s-day candy are just as well received as a night out at a fine steak house. Better even, for going light on the wallet. What’s more amazing about my mother, is she doesn’t feel the need to share either night on social media. It is, after all, her night, her love, her fun, her light- what business is it yours what’s she’s doing? She’s got nothing to prove.

Of course, this is a gross romanticization. We can unpack all the reasons why my mother is the way she is and they probably look as human and mundane as everything else. But that’s part of raising a dreamer with eyes on the horizon in a little southern town. As soon as I knew there was a world beyond the ridge, I wanted it. I wanted everything. I wanted to swallow the whole world in little decadent bites and great gasping gulps. And that means romance. I’m in love with the whole world and I’ve never even met it yet.

Moving from community to community, culture to culture, taught me a few things. What it tried to teach me, was that I ought to be embarrassed for my upbringing. We can save the conversation on the vilification of the poor and what years of pumping poverty porn out of Appalachia have done to our collective psyche. But for now, let it suffice to say my accent has been a cultural trigger which informed the people around me they could disbelieve and discredit what I had to say. This in turn taught me to resent and hide my accent and my upbringing. After all, I was surrounded by people who were so much more worldly and sophisticated than me. I desperately wanted to fit into the whole world seamlessly.

From my first day of my first solo trip. I went to New Orleans. It was exactly as romantic as I imagined it would be.

Turns out, that’s a sure fire way to waste a lot of everybody’s time. Here’s the thing about all of that. I am proud of who I am. I am proud of the good parts of me I inherited from my mother and the land that raised me. I am working to improve the bad things about me. But there’s just not enough differences between me growing up in Georgia and you growing up in New York. Especially not if I meet you out on the road.

Though I have spent much of my adult life traveling, I have made it my mission to never lose that tingle of excitement in my stomach when a plane lifts off. You may think I’m crazy but I’ll tell you, the little girl who dreamed of the world beyond the ridge line is still in my every step of the way when I travel. She loves the grumpy TSA agents and the shitty coffee we drink. She loves sitting next to other travelers and imagining their stories. She loves travel and no longer being in her life for a few days. Sometimes I think I lose her among the mistranslated dashes from terminal to terminal or dog tired trudges to a hostel after hours of stress and anxiety. But she’s still there- egging me on, bright eyed with the rush.

She’s like my mother. Hungry for the rush and the business. Hungry for the romance and the new. It may make me gauche but I unabashedly love every part of traveling and especially the hard parts- because they’re proof that I’m doing it, I’m showing that little barefoot girl the world and feeding it to her a bite at time.

This is from the last day of that same trip. I wish I could go back and squeeze that young lady and tell her what a great job she’s doing.

budget travel joy travel

ericaonearth View All →

I’m a freelance travel writer. Join me as I bounce around the planet offering some advice, telling some stories, and trying my best to figure it out with you by my side.

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