Why I travel

The wife and I know people who don’t wish to leave the United States of America. They like the easiness of the New Jersey Shore; the excitement of Las Vegas; the comfort and familiarity of Florida.

I get it. I understand it. I even appreciate it, to a certain degree.

But I also am saddened by it.

As I write this, I am sitting in an apartment in Rome. A couple of days ago I tasted the most delicious gelato in the history of humanity. It was rose flavored. Yes, rose flavored. It smelled liked roses, it tasted like roses. Yet, somehow, it was scrumptious. Beyond scrumptious. Earlier today, the wife, the kids and I climbed the steps of the Colosseum. It was hot and humid, the line was long and we were pretty much miserable. But I don’t regret it for a second, because within the whining and fatigue was an experience. An unusual, unique experience.

We’ve been here a week. We live in an area of the city where seemingly nobody speaks English. I have no idea what people are saying to me, and I nod quite often. Yet I love it. Love it, love it, love it. I love how they cut the pizza. I love how the pasta sauce is chunky. I love the 800 flavors of gelato. I love how everyone seems so intrigued by Americans. I love how crazy the driving is. I love the 800 churches—each one more fascinating than the next. I love the dirt that covers my feet after a day walking the city. I love hearing 30 different languages. I love the graffiti on the subways. I love the oddball genres of cereal in the supermarket. I even loved seeing the above car, lathered in bird dung.

Traveling abroad isn’t always easy. It can be awkward and uncomfortable and challenging. When we go to Florida to visit the inlaws, everything is neatly stacked and in place. We do the same activities, follow a regular pattern. Here, there’s none of that.

It’s hard.

And wonderful.