It was my Uncle Postelle's room. Photos of my Aunt Sally from her days as a model in Europe, lined the walls of this unlikely man cave. There was one particular picture that captured my full attention. In the photo, my aunt sat delicately on her knees between equally dainty women who wore gold jewelry and red chut thai. It seemed idiosyncratic of foreign places and people, it was fascinating and felt adventurous in spirit, and I connected with this energy instantly. Despite the halcyon days of my youth the occasional monotony of life was enough to fuel my desire to want to see and experience more. I unknowingly carried the image of my aunt in Thailand with the dream of someday exploring the world.
Near the end of my freshman year in college my aunt called me, as she would each week, to see how things were going. The conversation quickly shifted from my studies to traveling. She asked me hypothetically, "If tomorrow someone asked you to travel anywhere in the world with them, and offered to pay, would you go?" For a split-second this which seemed to defy all logic thrilled me and I shouted “Yes!” She then calmly responded, “Yeah, but you wouldn’t be able to go because you don’t have a passport.” She was doing more than presenting me with a far-fetched scenario, she was conveying to me the importance of being prepared when opportunity presents itself. It's like the quote by Roman philosopher Seneca, "Luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation."
In retrospect, it was foreshadowing. On occasion I was in fact afforded the opportunity to travel as my aunt described. Other times I sought out resources; wrote proposals, applied to academic programs or just took the risk and left on my own. Many times people would ask me "How do you travel so much?" Bewildered myself, I would shrug and say "I don't know I'm just lucky." I now realize what luck is and while I have been very lucky in life, there is this underlying preparation that luck is attributed to. Shortly after our conversation, my aunt wrote me a check for $120. I applied for my passport and 4 weeks later received it in the mail. I held it in my hands and went from being that little girl feeling empowered, to a young woman feeling enabled.
No longer bound by the impossible, literally, the possibilities opened up. It was only a matter of time, albeit a short amount of time, before I boarded my first plane out of the country.