June 24, 2006

Travel History

I've been thinking about writing this post for a while, but until now I've never been quite sure how to say what I should say. Bear with me.

I've traveled a lot for a guy my age, most of it made possible by two pairs of very loving grandparents. I'm a citizen of the United States, and of my home country, I've seen parts of Colorado, Hawaii, Washington (Seattle), Massachusetts, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Saint Thomas (in the USVI) and of course, I've run all over my home state of New York. That doesn't mean I don't want to see more, just that I've seen a lot (for example, I'm still due for a trip to visit Florida and perhaps Georgia someday, and I'd love to see California and Oregon).

I've been outside the US quite a bit. I'm also a citizen of Switzerland, and have visited my home away from home four times. I've also been to England, Canada, France, Germany (sort of) and, of course, Australia. Again, I'd love to see as many countries as I get the chance to see; I want to visit Jerusalem, and I really want to see Italy, Brazil, Ecuador, maybe a few African countries, and perhaps China or Bangkok. Japan would be cool too.

Point is, I've been to a lot of places where history was made. I've never been much of a history buff until my junior year of high school, when I was introduced to a different form of history. My AP US History teacher, Mr. Olson, taught us through stories. I'd never considered that history was anything but dry facts, and so the idea that real people did real things that might affect me ... got me thinking. But, as these things go, any progress got put on the backburner until my senior year of college, as I wrote my thesis on postmodernism, when I realized that I had to research 2000+ years of the history of religion in order to write anything profound ... and found myself enjoying the stories I uncovered.

It wasn't until I wrote that paper that I began to appreciate the places I'd been.

Of all the places I've visited, only a handful of them were ever appreciated on any level for their historical significance. But I also know that, in particular, my Dad's mother (my Grandma) really wanted to take me to places where I could learn about the history of the world I live in, to experience first-hand the stories, and open my eyes to a world bigger than the one I found in my textbooks. All four of my grandparents, but Grandma especially, have hoped so much that I'd learn and grow from my travels. Instead, I spent a lot of those trips complaining about boredom. I didn't really want to be there with my family, I wanted to be home doing fun things (which of course meant anything but what we were doing at the time).

As Liz would say, I was such a pill.

And for that, I am deeply sorry. I never really appreciated the value of the gift I was being given. Instead of the architecture and the stories and the people and the culture that I had the chance to explore, I focused on the boredom and the achy feet and the hours of staring at what I thought was nothing important.

And so this is an appology directed mainly to my grandparents, for putting up with the whining and the complaining and the begging and pleading to go home. It's also a thank you, for their patience and for exposing me to the world, and while it took me years, I finally am starting to understand what you see in this place.

There is still yet hope for your grandson.

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