As a young girl, maybe a “tween,” I had developed this urge. I could not shake it, try as I might. It was primal and insistent. I could feel it gnawing and scratching inside me, looking for just a small way out, gasping for air. Honestly, I do not remember how it even managed to get in there.
I don’t know if it was from Mr. Langdon’s seventh-grade world history class and his passion for bringing his lectures to life. Perhaps it was Mr. Edward’s eighth-grade American history class showing us how the US began its own trek into globalization. Can I pinpoint it down to an exact moment? No, not even a little bit, but I can try.
Before those classes, I did have some travel experience under my belt. Mostly semi-local destinations, such as visiting my cousins on the coast of Mississippi, where the beaches were starting to get overly littered with casinos.
Despite how many people don’t think anywhere within the borders of Arkansas being a destination worth pursuing, I do somewhat remember a fun trip to Blytheville, Arkansas. To be honest with you, up until this post, I haven’t really bothered to consider it as a place to visit as an adult.
If I remember correctly, we went up the steep, winding roads of a mountain, my brother and I mined earnestly for gold and walked into the beautiful caves with glimmering, slow-dripping stalactites and the ever so gradually growing stalagmites.
I had my first experience with rainbow trout fishing, where I really did surprisingly enjoy it. Of course, I did
make let my stepdad get the fish off my hook for me each time.
We also went to an antique car museum, where my brother and I were allowed to get something from the gift shop. My choice: a 3-inch long, 1957 black and white Chevrolet Corvette convertible. It was alluring me to dream of all the places I could go on my own. Of course, it also reminded me of what my Barbie drove back at our home.
I made special care at keeping this glorious reminder of one of my first family trips safe over the years, especially keeping it out of the hands of my younger brother, 9 years my junior. More than 20 years later have gone by and I still have it.
However, I did relax my hand on its security once my 4-year-old son took an interest in it. Only 2 years after he first grasped this small tangible piece of my past that the windshield is nowhere to be found; the license plate is missing; the silver paint for headlights is almost completely off now, and there are more scratches and dings on this car than my own.
I am delighted to report that both doors still properly close and open without needing tools to do so. Unbelievably, all four wheels are still on it, even if the back axle is a bit dodgy after experiencing its own adventures that led to the bend.
He plays with my car the way I thought I would have when my mom and stepdad got it for me. Despite being an important token marking one of my first real travel experiences, I am glad he made full use of the car. Soon enough, I will retire it back to a safe box that will follow me wherever I move.
Could this trip to Arkansas solidify my love of travel, while my history teachers provided backdrops for my imagination to daydream of where to go next? I am beginning to believe so.
I think I will need to keep this in mind, as our son gets old enough to travel well. It’s amazing how such a seemingly low-key family vacation can potentially change how you want to experience life as an adult.
The fun family memories along with relating to historical occurrences across the world a few years later may have just cemented the groundwork for the urge, the yearning, the wanderlust within me to keep me actively experiencing the unknown. I am doubly thankful it is there and I have been privileged enough to conquer some of the wanderlust constantly tugging at my soul.