Beyond my American Home
I believe traveling and moving have given me a greater sense of belonging in my home country. I have traveled to six countries for months on end and lived in six states over the course of my youth, and the only home I know is the United States of America.
Six years ago another turn occurred in my nomadic travels, bringing me to a place that provokes gasps from people in other States: “You live in Dallas, Texas?” I came here before finishing high school and soon left for college, where various travels and friendships eventually brought me back to the Lone Star State.
While in college, I studied abroad in Ecuador one semester and developed a penchant for traveling beyond my homeland. My return brought me in the company of a group of friends who shared my desire to see the world, so we decided to embark on a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia soon after graduating. I spent four months speaking broken English to Thais, climbing around the rocks of Angkor Wat, and practicing Vipassana meditation. Each moment in these unfamiliar environments reminded me of my roots in the United States, a home I could only come to know by seeing what lay beyond it.
I thought traveling would make me feel less connected to my home, but all the places I have seen, from Ecuador to India to Cambodia, have revealed the close ties I have here. As I look back at my pictures from other countries, I see what is not in the United States and realize that there is so much here I can still experience after all my voyages.
Though I have always lived in the United States of America, I have not remained in one state for more than several years, and I have seen much of what this country has to offer. Whether snapping pictures of bluebonnets outside Dallas, throwing a Frisbee near Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, or relaxing on a drive through mountainous Oregon, I know each place is part of my home.
When I sing “America, the Beautiful,” I can recall magical “amber waves of grain” on the day my college roommate and I drove to watch the golden light of the rising sun on the wheat-fields of Walla Walla, Washington. When I watch Tobey Maguire cross the finish line on the saddle of Seabiscuit, I think back to the summer days my family spent at the racetrack in Saratoga Springs, excitedly studying statistics and placing bets. When I go to the Farmer’s Market and bite into a Texas peach and let its juices leak onto my tongue, I am reminded of how many flavors of sweetness I can taste in this country. I feel a sense of belonging in this vast land of many sights, activities, and states of mind. The United States is a place that feels more like home the more I can see what lies both within and beyond it.
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