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2009 Resolution the Last: To Distant Lands

Posted on by Paul Roth

I’ve never been interested in travel. That’s not the same as disliking it, the way I really dislike moving. Travel has just always struck me as a means to a goal rather than a goal in itself. I grew up as a child of the military so would routinely move from one home to another every couple of years. My parents would take me from Korea to Japan to Hawaii to Maryland to Illinois and back. The trips themselves always seemed to get in the way of our purposes, which were generally to visit family.

When I settled into high school and then college in Maryland, I finally stopped moving with my family and was happy to put an end to the traveling, too. On my own, I never went anywhere far from home. With the onset of my dancing career, I started to travel for the purposes of getting to those dance events which were inconsiderate enough not to be in my backyard. What I thought was that everywhere is pretty much the same. People, places, things. Gravity? Yep, still 9.8 meters per second per second. Now, where’s that venue?

It wasn’t until I started dating someone who loves to travel that I slowly began to understand a little bit of the allure. The fact that every place is influenced by its own history and that the history of every place is different from its neighbors. The beauty and uniqueness of each environment. The culture and practices of different peoples. There really are places where the grass is greener, the water is bluer, the horizon is wider, and the sky looks bigger. There are towns where I fit in as if we were designed for each other and there are cities where I would always stand out no matter how still I stood. The weather travels more than any of us and it has its favorite places, too, depending on its mood.

Even in that relationship where my eyes began to open, I still didn’t want to admit the fun of going to a new place and exploring it. It has taken an overlong time for me finally to confess that the world is an amazing place full of astonishments and that all I need to witness more of those surprises is to stand on a different patch of land.

Two years ago, I started to enjoy traveling for its own sake and went on trips just to go on the trips! Last year, I let go of the last of my reluctance and began to embrace every bit of it. I liked the driving, I liked the flying, I liked the getting lost and the getting found, I liked encountering the people who spoke differently and ate differently and thought differently. I sang along with the Discovery Channel commercials that declaimed Boom De Ah Dah, the world is just awesome!

I would like to go to England and Canada and Australia and Japan and the various tropical islands where people play in clear sweet waters. I’m sad to say, though, that I am a little stuck. I have become estranged from my sister and mother and I think that my birth certificate and most recent passport were last in my mother’s possession. I have a driver’s license and social security card, but no way to prove… well, that I was born. My physical existence notwithstanding, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how I can show that I exist and thereafter how to get a passport as a U.S. citizen. My friend, Soo, has given me some ideas and so I will try to see if I can get a passport this year despite the odds. I hope that I am not deported in the process. Damn my slanty eyes!

Even if I don’t get a passport, I’m going to stay open to the opportunity of travel. If I see a cheap flight to Boston or somewhere in Florida, I’m going to try to go! Las Vegas, Seattle, anywhere in California? Yes, please! And if there is ever a last-minute cheap flight to Hawaii, I am so there. Hmm, I need to find a dogsitter. Or make friends with a pilot who likes flying with dogs. Oh, man, that would be great!

Thus, I resolve to travel to places this year not just because a dance event is happening there (although I am looking forward to New Orleans for Showdown!), but just because I haven’t been there yet. To give myself two quick guidelines: if I can drive there in less than four hours, it doesn’t count; if it’s specifically for a dance event, it doesn’t count. I’ll start small and aim for just one completely new place before the end of the year! And if I manage one, I’ll shoot for a second. And if I manage two, well, you can see where this is going. This resolution will go hand-in-hand with my fourth resolution and I will try not to let a lack of a clear plan prevent me from moving toward that new destination.

It’s taken me a while to admit it but the world really is awesome, and I want to see more of it. Here I come!

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