I’m not sure how this happened, but I think I am attempting to become an official writer. Like a real-life, typewriter and Ray Bans, cigarettes and contemplative stares– writer. Okay so only the Ray Bans bit is true and I’m not necessarily a novelist, but perhaps the secondhand version of a novelist… a blogger. I don’t mind the term blogger because it allows me the freedom to make-up words for the sake of humor, and wordsmith freely, fearing only the judgement of you, my loyal followers. Either way, I am genuinely attempting to write more. And to my flattered surprise, I was recently given a sound reason to write weekly when I was asked to blog for a company called Go America.
Go America is an organization that essentially paves a path for Chinese students to go to America for University studies. I joined in on this awesome project when my friend Tom, a brilliant young fella I met in front of Notre Dame in Paris, wrote to me asking if I would be willing to write frequent, witty accounts of my life as a nomad. I, of course, graciously accepted this offer and have since written two posts for the site.
While I’m hoping I’ll eventually catch a groove and coast through this new online journal, I’ve admittedly been stumbling through themes trying to speak to a new audience of young Chinese students, considering packing bags to study in my beloved US of A. So I thought I would share the first post with all of you. Give me your thoughts, suggestions and honest opinions. You are the ones who have gotten me to this point, by following, reading and encouraging me since fried chicken in Germany. This was blog post number one of “The World through Cassie’s Eyes,” posted with Go America.
I’ll Take the Aisle Seat.
As I was poaching eggs and simmering Turkish coffee this cool morning in Australia, I glanced at my phone and read a message from my sister advising me to get on Tango (video chat) ASAP. I plated my breakfast and sat down to a morning chat with the waddling, giggle factory that is my nephew. It’s almost terrifying to hear him form words like an actual human, and walk around on the legs that functioned about as well as two cooked noodles before I left the States. I’m sure he’ll have the beginnings of a mustache tomorrow and I’ll be weeping in his wedding next week. The little rascal turned one year old over three months ago, and I wasn’t there.
And it’s days like today that I have to remind myself why I travel. Since beginning my journey around the world, living, working and studying in numerous countries, I have found that I’m generally swarmed with support and enthusiastic encouragement to “keep going, keep exploring, and keep living the dream!” And while I’ve rarely been discouraged, I do get asked the all-too-finite question of “why do you travel?” more often than not.
I find myself responding with a chuckle and perplexed expression when a fellow American encourages me to continue living this dream… considering it wasn’t even a handful of half-decades ago that the American Dream dared not refer to a gallivanting, globe wanderer (selling her car for airfare and changing bed linens in exchange for temporary housing) as an embodiment of success. But now, as I sit here, in the bologna seat of the sandwich aisle on my flight back to America, I’m realizing that the dream has evolved. We’re no longer stagnant, stationary creatures of habit. We’re not looking for career growth or educational expansion from learning within. We’re packing bags. We’re sampling rare fare, embracing new worlds and defying language barriers by learning gestural greetings from handshakes to clenched-palm bows, to the universal high-five…we’re creating OUR dream, many seas away.
Despite archaic societal encouragement, my dream does not include a white picket fence. I don’t collect degrees from one University or field placement in one office; I collect passport stamps, experiences and references from multiple continents. My resume isn’t struggling for varied experience, it’s built around a timeline of global, personal and professional development. And this career exploration, I continue to find from continent to continent, seems to be the new World Dream.
So why do we travel? Why do we pack our lives into 18 x 20 inch cases, locked and laced with keychains of memories and email addresses, if the end goal is to achieve thriving careers? Why wouldn’t we bury our snouts in rich, leather-bound vessels to success?
It’s simple. Because we’ve learned to marry our books to technology, social media, global exploration and cultural involvement. The window seat simply won’t suffice. We’re no longer following the standard of “watch and learn.” Why wait for an introduction, when you already know how to shake a hand? We’re no longer interested in watching the clouds. Who needs a window of skyline when you could be surrounded by beautiful characters of varying backgrounds, and lives more foreign than the sea in the distance? I travel to meet the stranger in 27C and discuss the importance of handwriting in first and third world education. I trot the globe to offer a high-five to the 13 year old young man with Autism across the aisle. Perhaps we are the generation of dreamers, but I’d say we’re doing a fine job of living it. And the next time I’m assigned to sit by the window on a 12 hour flight, I’ll be offering a trade of peanuts in exchange for the aisle seat.