* Zoe Raymond's continuing quest through Asia, part I. See Index Here

Zoe Raymond: The Start of Something New

 

By: Zoe Raymond

From an early age I felt like an outcast in the world I lived. I wanted to read novels and play soccer, while most girls wanted to shop and go to cheer practice. I strived to blend in by wearing the same clothes, straightening my untamable hair, and laughing at things that were insignificant to me. Eventually, the lines were blurred, and I lost sight of what was important to me. 

 

I fell into the wrong crowd, searching for a sense of belonging. Among my “friends”, I felt alone. I wanted to hear stories that excited me, not complaints about how “lame” their parents were. With this curiosity, I picked up a book collecting dust on my bookshelf, “Bali; an extraordinary destination.” I was intrigued by the peculiarities of the beautiful Balinese culture and the mesmerizing scenery as well as the vast jungles, and the beautiful smiling locals. 

Sitting down at the dinner table, I asked my mom to tell me about her travels. She lit up, telling me about the wild adventures and encounters she experienced across the globe. It was evident that this was her passion in life. 

 

My mom gave up her nomadic spirit to establish a life of security and safety in the suburbs. Don’t get me wrong, I was very lucky to have a safe childhood, but my life lacked depth. My interests were somewhat formed; however, I had not yet found anything up to that point in my life, that cried to me to apply my talents. My mother, on the other hand, is an aspiring travel photographer and collector of beautiful pendants from around the globe. She wore funky clothes that I would never wear in public, but she didn’t seem to care.  She knew there was more in the world than the judgment of suburban moms. 

I felt suspended and directionless in a neighborhood with houses that were all made from the same blueprint. These houses were also within walking distance from stores that seemed to only differ in the color of their packages.  The mindless redundancy was beginning to close in on me and make me feel trapped.

 

I grew up in a world of vanilla. I began to wonder what It might be like to be on the other side of the world, experiencing a colorful life. This curiosity stayed with me as it picked at my mind. As I reached high school, I began to feel my individuality fading into my surroundings. This scared me as I have always loved my originality. 

I crawled in bed with my mom on a cloudy afternoon and watched her scroll through photos of her travels. She told me about the time she walked through the African desert beside lions. She stared up at the ceilings of mosques in Turkey. She danced in salsa bars in Spain. Living vicariously through her, I became more and more intrigued with each story she shared. “What if we left all of this and started traveling?”, I asked. Her eyes widened, and a beautiful smile lit up her face; we had a mutual goal. This idea progressed into plans. Eventually, it was all we could talk about. One courageous day, we sat down and pondered where we were going to go. 

 

Brainstorming on a destination, I learned about Bali, a place my mom had become enamored with years ago. She has been to many countries, but none of them compared to Bali. With the limitless nature, healthy food, and safety that Bali offered, we booked our 18-hour flight. We listed our house for sale.

 

After months of grueling open houses, we found a buyer. We began to rid ourselves of material possessions. It was shocking to discover the emotional connection I had to ALL my stuff. It was a liberating feeling to know that there is nothing tying us down. Slowly our 

belongings could be packed into a single suitcase. When the time came, we hopped in our taxi to LAX with our old life in the rearview mirror.