We’re Growing Up?

Today is my beautiful friend-from-prebirth’s birthday! Koheun is the other half of Kaleidoscope Journey – not this current blog, but our grand scheme of creating something beautiful as we document our journey, both through time and space. Or in Koheun’s words, a “book about all our rotic journeys.” (rotic = romantic without the man / it’s quite often the theme of our travels)

Bay of Naples

The Bay of Naples: oh so rotic

This beautiful design/photograph was the starting point for this blog, and a wonderful little birthday gift from my lifelong travel buddy. I’m not so talented with graphic design or visual creativity, so I’ll try and write something instead. [what was meant to be a birthday ode to Koheun has turned into a baby monster of why we won’t be growing up anytime soon. oops]

Koheun is one of my oldest friends. We like to say that we’ve been friends from pre-birth, since our parents knew each other before we were born (and quite possibly before they were married, too). She’s one of the few friends from home I’ve managed to keep up with, and I had always thought it was because we both don’t need to be constantly in touch or speak regularly for our friendship to hold. The kind of thing, that kind of friendship, where even if you haven’t seen each other or spoken to each other in aaages, when you are in the same place at the same time, it’s like nothing’s changed. But I think what’s really held us together (beyond what I’ve just said) is our shared wanderlust and refusal to “grow up”, at least in the conventional sense.

Because what is “growing up”? Getting mind-numbing 9-to-5 desk jobs, forking over those taxes, paying bills, health insurance, those 401k things – do all these things mean we’ve become real adults? I know plenty of people who do all these things and yet I’m pretty sure they don’t qualify to be labeled as ‘real adults’ or ‘grownups’. We obviously have more responsibilities and obligations the older we get, and there are certain things we can’t avoid, try as we might. Taxes, rent, bills, student loans, and health insurance (because we are privileged enough to afford it) come to mind. But just because we have these responsibilities does not mean we have to go about fulfilling them in the way that everybody else does. So say the funemployed freelance graphic designer in Seoul and the recent postgrad in Kurdistan.

We can make travel more than just a one-week holiday; our current mission is to make traveling our lifestyle. To fully live out the wanderlust before life hits us with even bigger responsibilities and obligations. Because to be honest, while we do have our obligations, in our early twenties twenties (early 30s, too?!) the only person we’re responsible for is ourselves. It’s not like Koheun and I, or most of our friends for that matter, have families who are dependent on us. And for that, I am truly grateful. I know it is a huge privilege to be able to say that, to have that freedom and choice when it comes to my life and my decisions. So when we decide to go on a 10-day trip to southern Italy even when we can’t really afford it, we do it with full appreciation of the deliciousness of what we’re doing. We know we “shouldn’t”, that we should be saving up for that rainy day, or a house, or future grad school plans.

But where’s the fun in that? These are our twenties, we are twentysomethings in a generation that is taking longer to grow up than our parents’. Actually, I would like to retract the last half of that sentence. It’s not that we’re taking longer to ‘grow up’ than our parents did. It’s only that our generation’s definition of ‘growing up’ has evolved. Now, having a family and a house by the time you’re 25 doesn’t mean you’ve achieved ‘real adult’ status. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those decisions; only that now, it’s a choice we are fortunate enough to have – whether we settle down like most of those in our parents’ generation, or we very happily live, by ourselves, paycheck to paycheck because we traipse around the world with every last penny. And for me, and I think for Koheun and many of the people I know, we choose to delay ‘adulthood’ and really enjoy our twenties. Our lives. Because who’s to say we’re not actually the ones being ‘real adults’ and all grown up by fully appreciating the freedom we have?

The freedom to…

read (or pose like we're reading) books on consciousness and art while sitting on a bench overlooking the cliffs of Sorrento

…read (or pose like we’re reading) books on consciousness and art while sitting on a bench overlooking the cliffs of Sorrento

 

we make quite the rotic honeymooners

…act like rotic honeymooners at the Blue Grotto in Capri

.

eat all the delicious food in the world

…eat all the delicious food in the world (this time in Napoli)

zip-line into the Costa Rican jungle in Montezuma

zip-line into the Costa Rican jungle in Montezuma, oh Montefuma

...sit on the pier in Amalfi and have no idea where to go next. It's really the best feeling in the world.

…sit on the pier in Amalfi and have no idea where to go next. It’s really the best feeling in the world.

Dear Koheun,

I know it’s tradition for you and a friend to exchange books for your birthday, and if Ranya had a post office I would’ve sent you Here and There. But since I can’t, I’d like to send you a recommendation for a similar book, once you’re done with AA Gill’s acerbic humor. Or if you’d like, it can be your 24th birthday present. But I don’t think you want to wait that long to read it. Anyway, Bill Bryson is another travel writer (or writer who travels?) who is HILARIOUS and writes beautifully about travel. Try Neither Here nor ThereWarning: he has been accused of being an ignorant American abroad who is insensitive to local culture, but if we’re going to accuse Bryson of this, then we’ll have to accuse AA Gill for being the same, only an ignorant Englishman Scotsman (Brit?). Either way, good reads.

bill bryson - neither here nor there

Happy birthday chingoo! 

I’ll see you at home in Nairobi in a few months, but in the meantime we must plan another trip. Argentina in 5 years and a second visit to Ravello at 44 is far too far away. Turkey? Egypt? Lebanon? Sri Lanka? Nepal? The world is our oyster, or something like that.

on the road

Where to next?

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