November 30, 2012
I like to sing in my helmet and frequently Issa chimes in, over the headset, as my boy soprano. Sometimes, its a song you may recognize, but a lot of the time its what I call a “One hit wander” often beginning with an A and slowly wandering off into an F (much like my school days).
We’re approximately 15 days into the Canadian portion of our Trans-world Adventure and a song that we all know too well forces its way from my lips and fills my helmet. And on this day, to Issa’s great fortune, our intercoms are set to silent. This grandiose song begins abruptly and enthusiastically with “I’ve got the whole world,” and immediately descends into a self-depricating shake of my bobble-like head. It’s one of those moments when you realize that anything cool you ever do, ever, won’t be big enough to cover the treads of the most uncool person you’ve now so obviously become. And in that moment, I was free.
When I was growing up, thoughts of doing a cross country anything seemed much too daunting a task to even consider. Many people, far more interesting than I could ever be, were being recognized for setting and breaking records everyday and in extraordinary ways. I was just a girl, whose days revolved around which song was breaking records on Rick Dees and the weekly top 40, and getting myself to the school bus on time.
Terry Fox was everyone’s hero back then. I still remember my brother and I eager to leave the dinner table to catch him on the evening news. He left a mark on everyone, young and old. For me, it was’t until my early teens that the pile of magazines with the bright yellow trim, sprawled across my parent’s coffee table began to speak to me. Those gorgeous covers and the even more enticing photographs within, were like nothing I had ever seen before. People were going to all of these places and living to tell about it? It was then that the misguided-by-media and shrouded-in-fear girl I was becoming, was uncovering her own realizations and truths about life. I had so many questions. Flipping through those (ahem) very educational Nat Geo pages obliterated any limitations that I believed we might have set on ourselves as mere humans. The rows of Encyclopedia Britannica lining the shelves of our living room wall would have to take a back seat.
Mom, “I want to travel the world.”
Australia was on the top of my list for places I would have to visit. It sounded so exotic and was really far away. Plus my father told me that I had an uncle who settled there after the Vietnam war. At the end of it all, he was the only other family member that I knew had fled like my parents did, in search of a better life for his family. They were just like us, only somewhere else – a very different somewhere else – but all working towards the same goal of freedom. He used to send postcards and photos from time to time and I can still see the letters lined up along the bottom of the postcard so clearly in my mind. Perth, A U S T R A L I A. I decided then and there that my cousins must have had a Koala “Not bear” as a pet instead of a dog. I’ve thought about my uncle often through the years, mentioning him to anyone who spoke about this beautiful land down under. I also believed that one day, when I made it there, I would find him. He had no idea that he had any impact on my life growing up, sadly he passed away this July.
Sneaking away to a quiet spot in the house with a handful of travel brochures to daydream became a fast growing hobby of mine when I was a teen. And since then, I’ve been leaving home. 1 week, 2 months, 12 weeks, 11 years – each time being more certain that I could go further and see more. I encourage you to roll out a large scale world map, mark a dot for where you live, and then realize that within that dot are countless lives and you… are one of them. For me, not leaving that dot is an inconceivable notion. It’s kind of like chocolate, once you have a piece of it, you always want more. And if you’ve never had it, you still know its out there because its all around you, all of the time.
Still today, even with the knowledge I’ve gained through my years of travelling from such a young age, I can’t help but associate riding my motorcycle around the world as a sort of impossible task. Forbidden in some way. I simply haven’t come to terms with it all and truthfully, I may never. Like somehow I’m 16 again, in my room, daydreaming. Afraid I’ll be found and quickly shooed back to class. Have I mentioned I’ll be 36 this September? It’s in these thoughts, my heart turns to those who inspired me when I was young and to many of the world’s two-wheeled voyageurs who have come and gone, travelling the same roads and discovering new ones everyday, helping to deconstruct the misconceptions that I had when I was a child and still have now, at the beginning of my own world journey. Everyday seems to be just another step towards believing that we are all capable, and granted an all-access pass if we so wish to accept the challenge. And that in a lot of ways, it’s just about beginning, whether you make it to your destination on time or not, eventually you’ll get there; you’ll get somewhere.
So that’s me, solo in my helmet, watching the terrain continue to change as it goes whizzing by. I can’t believe we’re already more than half way across the country. And although we’re still only at the beginning, for the first time since we set off, I can at least imagine that having the whole world in the palm of my hand is truly possible.