February 20, 2017

Four days from right now, my wheels will be touching the ground at Santiago International Airport. I’ve been making my rounds, saying goodbye to friends and family over the past few weeks, hearing a similar barrage of questions from nearly everyone—Are you nervous? Scared? Como es tu español? Mi español no es el mejor, but I am resourceful and thrive in the uncomfortable, such as navigating the language barrier or walking out of an airport all alone into a country and culture unknown.

As far as my nerves are concerned, there has been a strange air of surreal calmness that has laid like a blanket over my life in the preceding weeks. It is a daunting prospect to say the least — especially the first few days, walking out on foreign ground with nothing more than my wits and a suitcase of my essential affects — but this is what I’ve always wanted. A few weeks ago, an old girlfriend of mine asked what my dream job was, and I told her I’m living it.

I’m going to live in Santiago and travel around Chile and exist amongst the people and breathe in the landscape and write it all down, with genuine hope of inspiring others to chase their dreams. This life can be molded into whatever you want; it just takes courage, relentlessness, and a little bit of luck. The only thing I’m nervous about is waking up and realizing that this was all a dream. In any case however, that wouldn’t be too devastating because I would simply just have to start back at the beginning and do it all again to get where I am.

I moved back into my childhood home in Southeast Michigan yesterday to gather my thoughts and my belongings before the trip. The sun was shining on this unseasonably warm February morning, and I rode my bike up and down the streets of my hometown, and through the woods behind my neighborhood where I spent the better part of my childhood climbing trees and running free. I’m supposed to avoid writing clichés at all costs, but with my level of nostalgia and sentiment I can click my heels together with confidence and tell you there is no place like home. I wouldn’t be who I am today or have the aspirations I do without my home, and I am eternally grateful for that, but now it is time to for me to leave everything I find familiar behind.

I’m typing this in the room that has the same National Geographic photos on the wall that I hung up in high school, and would dream that maybe one day I could see those wonders with my own eyes. Just a few years later and I have made that dream my reality. Over the next ten weeks I will absorb every astonishment and cherish every moment and every vista. This is entry one of the Traveler’s Journal that is meant to last two-and-a-half months, but in truth, those two-and-a-half months will merely be chapter one of my Traveler’s Journal. Stay tuned amigos.

This is entry one of an ongoing travel journal. Click here to read the next.