for HSLDA members
Second HSLDA Essay Contest
Category 2 Second Place

To Travel the World

By Abigail Celis

I want to travel the world. It may sound silly; indeed, it is not the sort of thing I answer when a grown-up glances down to me from his lofty stature and queries, quite solemnly, "And what are your future plans?" No, when asked such a question, I tritely reply that I will be going to college and probably major in English and become a teacher "or something", all the while shaking my head inwardly at my timidity. Traveling is a secret dream of mine. I do not know its birthplace or how it was conceived, but gradually, I saw my thoughts turn outward to other lands. I saw myself wondering who I'd be if I had lived in a different place, with different people; I saw my heart being pulled to a region far from home.

I wanted to see and know- not visit- the classical cities of Europe, rich in art and beauty. I wanted to commune with the tropical islands, know them not as sandy playgrounds but as diverse entities, eclectic in history and form. I wanted to unmask the mystique of Africa and Arabia, and revel in the music of languages so unlike my own. I wished I could live a lifetime in every town in every country, that I might know. Know the bakery that houses the best cinnamon twists; the alley where the policeman sits silently with his radar, the rimmed nose of his car shyly protruding; the otherwise-abandoned river where a young man sits with his guitar and sings. I wished I knew as many people as there were towns and countries, knew each heart beating in hope, misery, fervor and malice. I wished I knew why that man came to stand on the comer, face twisted, a sign held in his one arm, and his eyes so full of grief. Cold? Hurt? I still wish I knew.

Most of the time, I long for this knowledge of people, places, countries and traditions. Most of the time, I want to go and experience these people, places, countries and traditions. Yet right now, the pull has slackened. I hold back as my soul whispers, "Not yet. Now is not the time." For now is the time to stay home, in Redmond, Washington. I will be graduating in a year and leaving soon after that, like my sister did, and if I had just two weeks to spend anywhere in the world, I'd spend them here. I'd spend them watching my brothers grow, taller than me, and just a little wiser, too. I'd spend them laying in the rare Seattle sunlight, my friends with me, our laughter as yet unburdened. I'd spend them having dinner with my parents, a meal seasoned with news and joking and basted in interrupted conversations. I'd savor the sights and sounds, refusing to let one detail sidle away unnoticed.

There are few pages left in this chapter of my life, and presently my sorrow at finishing it overwhelms my eagerness for the next episode. You see, at home I know where to find the best cinnamon twists, I know the corner where the policeman lies, and I've heard of the lonely river with the singing man, but I've often passed them coldly by. Truth be told, we humans jabber away about how we need to appreciate what we have, yet we fail to notice half the things we do have. Now I see those I love must be more important than that which I desire. I will unravel the histories and mysteries of the world one day- today, I want two weeks where I would discover, and rediscover, the people and places in Redmond, and honestly cherish them.