My parents still don’t believe me but when I was three I was so mad I decided to run away on my yellow and blue plastic trike. I remember going along, realizing how tall the parked cars were and trying to remember which way to go. Fortunately since we lived in on a circular road I ended up right back at our house and I got even more mad when I told my parents and didn’t get the reaction they wanted since they thought I was lying.
At a similar age I almost got kicked off the little kid’s motorcycle ride at the State Fair because I was standing on the ride instead of safely sitting.
I grew up as an adventurer. Alaskan summers are like one endless day without darkness. Throughout the year I would ride my bike, climb trees, build two story snow forts (well, that was mostly the bigger kids in the neighborhood, but I helped!), sled down giant fast hills, turn a big stick into anything (a horse, a broomstick, a motorcycle). I cried when I got sick and couldn’t go camping and boating so my mom made a tent in our living room.
Throughout childhood we traveled a lot. My favorites including going somewhere hot (Florida? The Caribbean?) and realizing for the first time it could be dark and warm out at the same time. Visiting the outskirts of Mexico City where we hung out with the kids learning English from my missionary aunt and uncle. Getting interested in science by learning about the geysers and animals at Yellowstone. Wandering through Rome, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, soaking in the culture and history. Parasailing, zorbing, laser tag in the woods, and other crazy things in New Zealand. The list goes on.
In high school I went hiking and camping where bears also slept and my favorite birthday present was a rifle. Instead of going to the mall with my friends we’d hike a mountain or go to a cabin without electricity and spend our time on the lake, whether it was swimming until we turned blue from the cold or modifying fire works for bigger explosions, we were always ready for a good time.
In college I changed majors every year, switched schools twice (once to Juneau on a whim of being a Marine Biologist, then switched back to Anchorage again), was pre-PT, pre-med, pre-OT. My dream was to join the army in the medical field. I wanted to get married but not for a long time.
My idea of a good date is ice climbing up a frozen waterfall off the side of the highway in pitch dark (that’s Alaskan winters for you), even if I have the wrong shoes on and can’t make it up.
Or kayaking among icebergs near a giant glacier.
Zooming jet skiis or snow machines around the lake (these are friend photos, not dating photos, but I didn’t want to post those 🙂 ).
Dinner and movie was not how I liked to date because what fun is that?
As I write this I’m propped up by three pillows, next to my husband, in a king sized bed, in our house with a mortgage, knowing we have steady careers, with a newborn child, with our bedroom window overlooking a huge garden in the backyard to take care of daily. A summary of that picture? SETTLED IN SEATTLE.
If you told me when I was five I would have this life I would have turned my stick into a motorcycle to zoom out of there. Yet I am so happy! AND I would argue I’m actually more set up for adventure then ever.
See, when I was five I wouldn’t have known about delayed gratification.
My husband is not a ball-and-chain but a fellow adventurer. While I still enjoy exploring other cities on my own occasionally (like during occupational therapy conferences) I love having a partner who wants to spend time with me being active and whose skill sets and limits I know. Plus, it’s fun to be able to reminisce with one person instead of various adventures with friends/boyfriends who I don’t talk to frequently now.
The mortgage means instead of paying rent we’re paying into our assets, so when we spend more money on travel we’re not taking away from retirement. I’ve also never held onto a lot of my belongings because I never knew how long it would be until I moved next (I lost track but it’s over a dozen times; probably a little less than 20 times, in 27 years). While I don’t want to be a packrat I also can build up my camping and kayaking supplies.
Our steady jobs means we can actually think about buying two expensive single kayaks to be able to push ourselves on adventures more. We bought our recreational kayak that we’ve been using as a sea kayak for a little over a grand and couldn’t take any kayaking classes when we were in grad school because we couldn’t afford it. We also now get paid vacation (what a concept!) so it’s not a hit on the bank account when we take a week off.
Our baby girl throws a kink in the two single kayaks plan but has opened up a whole new set of adventures and challenges we’ll happily accept (stay tuned!).
The huge garden is something fun we’re learning together and growing together (literally and figuratively). This is much to the surprise of my childhood friends (“Since when did you start to post flowers on Facebook?!”). This fits into our kayaking needs (dehydrated strawberries for example) and baby needs (she’ll be able to eat mashed potatoes and carrots and applesauce from the garden this fall).
There’s a lot of upsides, we just have to plan better and look a little harder for opportunities for adventure. Stretching out vacation days strategically and cramming in as much adventure as possible. We talk about becoming travel therapists so we can explore different areas but also to give us extended vacation times between jobs. We love our house but talk about renting it out in the future so we can use it as an investment but not let it tie us down. We’re enjoying the garden but if it’s not the right fit for our lifestyle in the future we’ll drop it, no harm done. We can do more hiking this year and hold off on kayaking until our daughter can keep her own head up perhaps. Last, but not least, the king bed can be loaded in a moving truck or sold and another one purchased. Phew, all bases are covered! We have the benefit of stability without truly being tied down, because we have the hearts of adventurers.
How have you kept your heart of adventure in the midst of so many responsibilities?