by Sylvia McCleary, known as The Gypsy Traveller
When I think of my life back then, when I was married, I would have to say I thought I was really happy. But after ten years of marriage and compromise not being a part of his vocabulary I found myself alone without the support of my husband, mother and father or anyone.
I had gone from my parents secure nest to marriage without a blink of an eye. I had always wanted to travel and write, but never really had the guts to just “do it,” but that year I had more than my fair share of grief and the guts I didn’t think I had suddenly appeared.
My father was the instigator in my mad caper across Europe in a time when walls were trying to come down and wars where being waged. I will always remember what he said to me after I’d not only lost my marriage, and a lot of my friends, but also my job. “What do you really want to do with your life, never mind what and who you think you have to be responsible for, what do you want to do for YOU!”
My answer was quick, “Sing, Travel and Write!” He told me to “Go Do It” and then he ushered me into the living room so that we could plan my flight of fancy.
Three weeks later I was bound for London with a one-year, round-trip air ticket in my hand, a one-year EurRail Pass and a backpack. I was 31, and at the time, it felt like I was the oldest person on the road to self-discovery. That journey took me to over 22 countries in nine months, travelling to each place on a whim or suggestion from some other traveler.
The start of that journey was England. I embarked upon the long awaited car trip around the whole of England, Scotland and Wales while ending up at the Hovercraft Dock trying to pick out where my next journey would take me.
You can imagine me looking up at the board thinking about where I could extend my European adventure and since the next hovercraft was leaving for Brussels, Belgium, that that was my answer.
On the way, I met a girl of 21 who was going visit her family. She invited me home for tea and an overnight. While my trip took me to several European cities, I decided to get a little reckless and travelled into the Eastern Block, where there were very few English speaking travelers on the road and definitely no Americans.
Before I want on my journey I was working hard in the High Tech industry in what felt like a 24/7 job, never seeming to move up and never asking for that promotion. This journey taught me to take pride in myself, to have a voice, to live outside of the box, never let anyone box me in and, most of all, to be and act as my true self.
I’m no longer afraid of going to a movie alone, taking a ski run down a new back country area, travelling to far and distant places or walking into a jazz club and asking to break out in song.
Since that first journey, I’ve had a few more to add to the list. “It’s not the journey you take but what you learn and experience along the way that makes the journey your own.”