I thought I’d relive some moments from a three-month grand adventure in North America, which I did in 2009 when I was 22, a few months after finishing my degree. I paid for it with a summer school job at my university and by sleeping in a tent in my friend’s backgarden for the summer of 2009.
My best friend Ben came with me for an action-packed, mesmerising first two weeks of the trip, taking in Southern California, San Francisco, San Rafael, Yosemite Park, Las Vegas and The Grand Canyon. Following our initial 16-day adventure, I then did my own two-and-a-half month solo trip through California, Seattle and Vancouver on a very tight budget and by staying with locals free-of-charge using couchsurfing.com! I wrote a diary every day of the trip, and I’ll be posting some excerpts from that. So many memorable things happened on that trip that they were so easily forgotten without having the record.
A big motivation for sharing it is to share the stories of amazing generosity and friendliness from people throughout the whole trip. And maybe to share some of my optimism and hope about personal change that can happen through life experiences.
I’d had a bad knee injury when I was 14 through sports, followed by a few surgeries. I was told I would never run again, which killed me. And I could no longer skateboard or bike with friends. My teenage years were a very tough time full of angst and pent-up energies, even social isolation. I felt ostracised from my family. However this was also when I developed my passion for astronomy and space exploration, which gave me the motivation to study and get to university. Up until that point, I had never felt academically or intellectually interested in anything in particular, though I had always read a lot. I had always felt misunderstood, by family and by teachers.
But the experiences I had with my telescope really opened my eyes to the universe, and it literally saved my life. I feel so lucky and forever grateful for that! Honestly it was a deeply spiritual journey and I was fully caught up in the romance of space, feeling connected to something. I felt like I’d gained some of what I’d lost through the knee injury. My knee started to recover during university and by the start of my third year when I was 20, I had finally, fully regained my precious physical freedom! Nothing else had been more important. Not even space. In fact my degree came very close to being a disaster, because I just wanted to be running outside!
Thus this trip was possible. It was life-changing for me all over again, as up until that point I had always had a lot of social anxiety, having few friends and never going out of my way to connect with people, even through four years of university! The knee recovery really helped, but after the trip social interactions all came quite effortlessly for me and I became a lot more extroverted, really enjoying interesting conversations. I had also never left Europe before and only been on a plane once to Amsterdam. So I was completely wide-eyed and giddy with excitement at setting out on this highly-anticipated American adventure!
Yes, I knew the British accent would help me lol 🙈.
P.S. following posts will be shorter! This essay gives me a headache 😆.