A lot of people seem to feel that the enjoyment of seeing another country revolves around the necessity of spending a great deal of money. For various reasons, that was not an option when I visited the US recently. Now, perhaps it is me or, perhaps, I am simply from a generation that grew up with the need to make our own fun. As kids, we did not have the Internet and all the electronic gadgetry that delivers instant fun today. I was a teen in the 80’s; in a time before cell phones and iPods. We made our own fun or we were bored. It was that simple.
To those who need the tourist traps and must come home with several suitcases full of souvenirs in order to feel like they have accomplished anything my list will seem insignificant. To me? Ah, to me, the following were all priceless experiences that I would not trade for all the ‘touristy sight-seeing’ and over-priced souvenirs available. The ensuing list contains some of the priceless things I experienced while I was away:
Leaving what I thought was home to arrive home, for the first time in my life.
Finding missing family.
Walking the streets of New York City at night; all night.
A rat on a New York Subway.
A ‘welcome’ by a New York Police Officer.
Seeing squirrels and rabbits, Robin redbreasts, Cardinals, and all sorts of wildlife I have never seen before.
Walking the streets of a NJ suburb alone and in the company of others.
Learning local history, and local phrases. Small differences in lingo and language could bring as much humour as it did confusion at times.
Collecting shells and water-tumbled rocks alone on the shore, on my second successful journey through part of a NJ town.
Being welcomed into the homes of strangers, and being made to feel welcome in spite of the almost incapacitating level of painful shyness that chose to manifest while I was away, for circumstances that are none of your business.
Getting to see Niagara Falls for free, and completely unexpectedly.
Seeing the large expanses of NY State.
Holding a rather awesome shotgun thankyouverymuch 😉
Experiencing all the seasons in one day, almost every day.
Sucking badly at playing video games.
Watching an artist at work.
Listening to a young muso playing the guitar.
Looking at the stars from a different hemisphere.
A thunderstorm and rain and a gentle heat that caressed rather than tore into my skin.
Words of wisdom shared by a stranger.
Sure, some things cost money and I am afraid to say that I think the beautiful people who let me into their homes spent more of it than I could and so, to those same beautiful people I say ‘thank you for being a part of a trip that gave me so many priceless experiences and memories’.
I guess the tourists concentrating on taking their ‘happy snaps’ missed out on the simple and beautiful experiences that I was able to find while away on a life-altering journey.