I was able to gradually adjust to my long-term travel plans by spending the first three weeks of my trip on the East Coast of the United States with family and friends. It began by going to Connecticut to attend my cousin Katie’s wedding. Besides our first day, which was very rainy, we got blessed with beautiful blue skies and warm weather. The bride was absolutely glowing as she walked down the aisle. The ceremony was beautiful and was followed by a breathtaking reception on the water. With delicious food, great dancing, and the best company, her wedding was a joy to be at.
I then spent the next week at my Aunt’s house with my mom. She was already staying the week, so I figured I would use that time getting as many quality moments with my mom as possible before leaving. It was so wonderful and we had many laughs. Staying with my aunt and uncle was quite the experience. They did treat us so well, fed us, and just had a great time, but they do talk wayyyyy too much during movies 😉
During this week my mom and I spent some time in the area around Fairfield, CT and a couple of day trips to NYC. We visited the Bruce Museum, a small museum near Faifield. Although it was somewhat small it was extremely interesting. It was holding part of what I think to be the most clever exhibit idea: along with 6 other museums in the area, the Bruce Museum was holding an exhibit on the 7 Deadly Sins. Each of the museums focused on just one of the sins, and Bruce happened to be ‘Pride’. It was so cool to see because I haven’t thought about all of the representations in art, and when it comes to Pride there are so many different images that represent it, one in particular being a peacock feather. There was also an exhibit there of travel portraits, which gave me some inspiration for my trip!
We also visited my cousin Jimmy in Albany. It was a quick day trip but it was so nice seeing his kids and where he lives.
With a tearful farewell I said goobye to my mom and aunt. It was especially hard leaving my mom, we’ve become so close in the last few years and I am going for such a long time. I will miss her a lot, but I know she is excited for me. After Connecticut I then went on to stay in New York for a few days with my friend Roxy. It was so nice of her to host me! Plus, I was happy to really start getting going on my trip. Being with my mom didn’t always make it feel real, but starting to crash at people’s places and explore the city allowed me to start feeling like this trip was really happening. It doesn’t always feel real that these types of trips are happening, but now it finally started to.
My first night in New York was spent with my friend Mark. I met him while being involved with Alternative Spring Breaks at MSU. He was my sight leader when I went to Birmingham, Alabama to volunteer with AIDS Alabama. It was awesome seeing him, because it had been SO long! Of course, he is just as kind, funny, and handsome as he was before, so we had a blast. He brought me to a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade, which I’m sure was funny, but the acoustics sucked and we couldn’t hear a thing so we ended up leaving early, which is not something I typically do, but it did allow us more time to talk. I loved catching up with him on everything and am so proud of everything he is doing now!
The next few days were spent being lazy with Roxy. I am so fortunate to have her as a friend. It’s just amazing how you come to meet people, the world is such a small place, and I am so grateful for that.
Me and Roxy
The Hi-Line, which was absolutely amazing, and the 9/11 memorial
In New York I also went to the 9/11 Museum and Memorial. As we walked in we were greeted with a duo of bagpipers playing to the tune of ‘America the Beautiful’, which was absolutely heart-wrenching, but magnificently beautiful. I have to admit, the tears started flowing then as a wave of emotion for what had happened where I stood, and with the bagpipes playing, rushed over me. The museum is so well put together and worth a visit, just bring tissues.
After NYC I headed to Washington, DC to spend time with my travel partner and inspiration, Morgan Frost. Needless to say, I had an amazing time! I started off my trip by staying two nights with my cousins. They fed me the best food an treated me so kindly. We never really have had a lot of one-on-one time, so I really enjoyed getting that chance to hang with them and talk, even with mouths full of yummy food. Their son is also the cutest and happiest kid around!
DC is full of free things to do too, so I definitely took advantage by going to the Native American History Museum, the American History Museum, all of the monuments, The Natural History Museum, and the Newseum (which is freaking awesome! If you are in DC, go to it. It’s not free, but well worth it).
For the next few days I stayed with Morgan and her roommate Tessa. It is another one of those situations of pure luck, because Tessa is incredibly funny, personable and so kind! I loved that she was so comfortable being with me and Morgan, I felt like the third roommate! Going to live in a new place and not knowing anyone is daunting, and Morgan has done that time and time again, and she always comes out in the end by surrounding herself with good people, allowing herself to have a good time, and to experience everything. I also enjoyed and delicious dinner with my other cousins and their SO’s. I couldn’t have asked for a better send-off and for better family and friends.
After leaving DC, it was time for the next step: Europe