Leaving America: 2011 version

It’s never easy escaping the shores of the land of the free; it’s never easy flying over the home of the brave away to a strange land. My belief that I find myself through being alone, out of my comfort zone, with strangers, forced to figure things out, speaking new languages and eating weird food is what propels me to travel. The excitement of finding that amazing street food vendor with a huge smile, a random meeting with a beautiful girl, sunsets over new mountains, sirens/horns/auctions/shouting/subway notices all sound different. But, soon, they aren’t new anymore, they become part of your town. Coming back to Pennsylvania after 4 years in Texas, the green colors shocked me, it was new again, despite the fact that I saw that green for my first 18 years.

It is fun to experience new things elsewhere, and when you come home, it’s the same old place with a new spin. That spin is your brain reacting to a place you know, yet is somehow unfamiliar. While traveling, I take pictures of people more than landscapes.  People hold the energy of a still photo better. Landscapes cannot include the periphery.  Humans fit right in scale.

Perhaps you disagree, and you love the picture at the top of a serene moment of nature. I like them too, but I just love seeing the action of this photo, an amused girl, suspicious mom, happy balloon twister and some dude telling me not to take the picture. I was never one to hide my origins. Some backpackers would tell me they put the Canadian flag on their bags even though they’re from Florida, so they don’t “get harassed for being American.” Unfortunately, those people are wrong, you must never forget your home, even if you have the annoying backlash. Travel wide and learn. I may live elsewhere, but I will always be an American. This country is too much inside me to ignore it. I miss it every time I leave, but the American touch is in every country in the world, right McDonald’s?

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