The Journey IS the Destination

Traveling and seeing the world have always been on my agenda. I think that moving around when I was younger played a role in this desire. Even though, our moving was from one small Midwest town to another, I always managed to become friends with stellar human beings who were the exact manifestation of who I needed during those times and I attribute moving to the blessing of our paths crossing. Each has played an important role in building me up along my journey and I’ve remained friends with most (some in thanks to social media). Another motivation for travel came from doing so in my mind as a way to pass time during long, lonely days that were spent locked in my room (more about this in “it’s not a swastika, damn it”). I would envision all the people I would meet and role played in my head how I would  engage new friends; I, of course, always had them laughing. I imagined our meetings would be something life changing as were many of my friendships and the idea of adding such adventure and new friends kept me hoping against hope during many dark times. Daydreaming was a “skill” that helped me through hard times; I could be anyone I wanted and go anywhere in my mind, this “skill” pushed me to start running away from home when just imagining another world wasn’t enough and too much time spent in my reality had me depressed, suicidal and therefore in the hospital on several occasions  with cut up arms. Daydreaming helped me escape and played the biggest role in what helped me make it out of a small town in MN where the culmination of my home life (very serious abuse from a prominent figure in the small community) and my resulting escape to drugs, alcohol and people nearly ended me. Spontaneous travel has remained a goal since my official-fist-step into the “real-world” at age 18; a spontaneous escape it was and one I can look back on and believe God had a hand in. I laid next to a black garbage bag filled with my belongings; with a broken lease behind me I abandoned my apartment, leaving the walls spattered with food from the going-away party I threw for myself; I was rolled in sleeping bags in the back of a twin cab truck in route to CO on Christmas Eve., 1997. Janet Jackson and Celine Dion were the soundtrack as we sputtered down the highway toward Denver in the middle of that cold night. The drag queen “Mike” (stage name I can’t remember) who drove from CO to pick us up, knew every word to every song and he belted them out. My  new Mexican-gangster friend of a few weeks “Gabrielle” and his lesbian half-sister “Tammy” were in the front with Mike (they were all very overweight = no room for me in the warm cab). I’ve labeled the three for effect to emphasize my age and small town/sheltered upbringing, they were the first of their “type” I had ever met. Gabe and Tammy worked with me briefly at a turkey factory, where I met them through the factory mechanic who I had just started doing cocaine with/we were the night crew.  They came to town initially to help their aunt with her start-up Mexican restaurant which quickly closed in the small MN town with Norwegian taste buds.  I recall that the two became hard pressed to return home to Denver by Christmas, Gabe’s mother’s health was failing and their father was just released from prison. Despite barely knowing them, with little time and no Christmas plans or options to weigh, I concluded with ease that I should also go to Colorado. I saw it as my way out, I left family behind, but at the time I wasn’t afforded the luxury of having them in my life anyway. My mother, two young brothers and a sister were all stuck in a home with a destructive, abusive person and, for no reason, I wasn’t allowed there to see them, nor were they allowed to see me (just a small example of the mind games this psychotic-controlling personality would play; he separated my mother from everyone who loved her as is typical of domestic abusers, he had the dynamics in our family to the point where nobody said “I love you” anymore and as my sister and I were made to stay in our rooms he put on a show of “Christmas” making my mom watch while he and the boys opened gifts around a tree; definition of mental abuse??).  That was far too painful to watch, helplessly. So the pain pushed me in the direction I needed to go for that time in my life. It wasn’t the best, but it was better than the alternative self-destruction. We arrived in Colorado on Christmas Eve’s eve. Mike’s closet had the most sequins I’d ever seen in my life; heels, gowns and straight up tackle boxeS of makeup were the first things he showed me. It was the furthest scene from what was familiar and I was thrilled to be there. I loved how animated he was. My “travels” prior to age 18 were in many instances the result of my running away from home and riding in cars with strangers, usually ending with me in the back of a cop car. I still remember the trench coat I was wearing the night a cop caught me after I slipped on some ice while he was pursuing me on foot in some random town; I still think I would’ve gotten away had I not been wearing that coat. The thought leaves me with one of those breaths-of-relief, because who knows what would’ve come next had I stayed with those strangers who were getting a minor drunk, I shutter to think of it. On this occasion I was on the run from a girls-group home for “at-risk” youth (I was the one taken out of the home when I would call the police on my step-dad….messed up system). A counselor from a different placement had given me the coat, one of the many who failed to do their job of reporting the abuse that was going on at the hand of my stepfather (or perhaps she was one who tried and it was the system that failed)-either way she made me feel important and loved, today I’d thank her for the coat and for trying, if I could. I was so close to 18 at that point that the police didn’t send me back to the youth-home, they probably knew I wouldn’t have stayed put anyway…I may seem off topic, I guess I do write how I speak…there is a back story to the story that must be shared:) the details matter. The many brush strokes paint the picture, ya know?! So all of that was shared to validate my past which follows me like a shadow and is now starting to serve as a point of perspective/a light that reminds me how far I’ve come when I get clouded. I am now living that daydream of traveling for real and it isn’t motivated by pain or a need to escape. I really believe that I am getting paid back in a way for all that time I had to spend locked in my room, my own proof of God’s redeeming love. I have this extreme perspective that is being gained as certain things heal and revelation is introduced. To make a long-interesting story short..I ended up living homeless in CO. after some close calls while realizing the disturbed sort of person Gabe was. Thankfully I had the internal drive to get away from him and his family… The ‘insert popular mexican last name here’  men in that family had the name tattooed on their stomachs, like Tupac had THUG-LIFE  beginning with the father who spent time in prison for murder and drugs, his kids, of which he had many, followed his example despite him never being there for them. Even then, having grown up without any help or communication from my own biological father,  I thought it was disturbing how desperately his kids vied for his attention and how they idolized him. I share this story [in brief] to lay a foundation for an important point that without the back story, would fall short. Ultimately, my “traveling” to escape pain is the very circumstance that brought me to my point of finding faith …faith is important in this story because without it, I would’ve cut too deep. So, 2015!! Christmas eve was spent in Beijing, China. I taught a class that day because it isn’t common for Chinese people to celebrate Christmas and it is most certainly not a holiday recognized by the government. So just before class, I quickly bought some sour skittles as a “present” for the kids, upon delivering the gift (unwrapped and tossed across the table to them) they all announced (in very adorable broken english) that it was the first Christmas present they’d ever received, they were completely thrilled. I immediately wished I had put more thought into the gifts and perhaps…at least, wrapped them. This gave me perspective: Despite our circumstances in my home growing up, my mom always made sure she gave us a heartfelt/thoughtful present for Christmas and even though we had someone in our lives trying to suck the love out she did what she could, even in poverty we received very thoughtful gifts that she always worked hard to give us, she would do without to make sure we had what we needed. This is a small story about my experience abroad that has made a big impact on my ever growing love for the life I have (I can say the same about everyday so far).  It is funny how the reaction those kids had to a bag of sour skittles could make my view on the life I’ve lived/am living seem so simply beautiful. My imagined experience of traveling abroad being life changing…was accurate. My mind is being blown daily, I use to struggle a lot with self-hate and have had a really hard time shaking some of the abuse I experienced by that step-thing, but I am illuminated by the perspective I am gaining and now with my shadow repurposed as insight, I see the divine interventions in my life. I realize my privilege and blessings more profoundly. I am meeting beautiful beings who are opening my heart. I am blown away by the big-big-world and the so very different ways people have to live or choose to live. I am overjoyed and inspired to make an impact and I appreciate who I am and what I have more than ever. This has been everything plus a bag of chips, but here the chips are flavored like shrimp, are disgusting and there is always a background noise of people hacking up phlegm while you eat…..such is life:)




Current Agenda: 1. Have all the fun 2. Be more thankful 3. See the world 4. Laugh until I cry more often. This list was compiled in effort to focus on possibilities, not casualties or fear. I'd like to recognize and be animated by joy, and hope.
Image | This entry was posted in Beijing; China; Chin hair; mole; freedom; people, funny, Thoughtful, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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