Jun 12, 2014

Get outta town

Four Corners Monument, March 2014
I've always longed to travel. Haven't done much, though. It always comes down to money, doesn't it?

I had bad luck in the parental sweepstakes and grew up poor. My father dropped out of high school for reasons I never learned. My mother also dropped out at sixteen because of a bizarre family tragedy. (A multiple suicide. I'm not kidding.)

My parents broke up when I was ten, and my mother raised my sister and me alone, waiting tables and tending bar, with no help at all from my father. My sister also worked her entire adult life as a waitress and bartender. Which is why I always over tip. Everyone should over tip.

Even though I was an honor student in school, no one encouraged me to go to college. But I went. I got a useless bachelor's degree in French literature, which did me no good whatsoever in the job market. I think I went for French literature because I constantly fantasized about going to Paris.

And then I got pregnant, and my boyfriend skipped town.

Unlike my mother and sister, I could type and I eventually developed computer skills. I held down clerical jobs and raised my son Daniel alone. I got engaged four times, but couldn't make myself commit to marriage because I was always afraid every man in my life would eventually turn into my father. There was usually enough money to live on, although the budget was so tight it often turned into a stranglehold. It's difficult being a single mother in the best of times, but when you're always broke, it's even worse. Forget Paris -- a weekend trip to Newark, New Jersey was out of the question. Hey, almost everything that wasn't work was out of the question.

But I still had this overwhelming desire to get up and go somewhere, and finally, I did. When Daniel was six, I had a tiny financial windfall, quit my job, sold nearly everything, and we moved to Boulder, Colorado. Why Boulder? Because the Rocky Mountains are stunning and they had always attracted me. Did I know anyone in Boulder? Nope. We lived there for four years before the need to be near family again pushed me to return to the northeast.

Driving through the Rockies, March 2014


Then I found a clerical job in a university library in Pennsylvania, and it was like a light bulb went off over my head. After only a month, I knew that being a professional librarian was something I could do. I eventually got my masters in library and information science (at the University of Texas, long story), and started working as a professional. I took positions in Mississippi, Virginia, and finally California.

And then this wonderful thing happened.

I was chosen to represent my library at two international conferences, and traveled to Oslo in 2005, and Seoul in 2006. Even better, I was able to add a two-day side trip to Paris. After so many years of yearning to travel and thinking I never would, it was amazing. So even though it was a few years ago, I'm planning to post a few travel/photo diaries about my trips to Oslo, Paris and Seoul.

If you've made it this far, I'm also going to share my current heart's desire with you. Now that I don't have a full-time job tying me to a specific place, what I really want to do is sell everything, buy an RV, and travel around the United States and Canada. I want to see everything, and I want to write about it. I had hoped to begin this past March, but finances and family circumstances made it impossible.

But I haven't given up.

Maybe 2015?

4 comments:

ChrisB said...

I am with you! Travel is my passion and my dream is to find enough money to do it again. I would love to do an RV trip. Unfortunately, Powerball didn't come through for me last night...

Great post!

Austin said...

Oh wow, University of Texas huh? That's impressive. If you do go on your road trip, swing by Houston and let me buy you a cup of coffee :)

LaureMack said...

Traveling is my calling. Giant gaping pits of fear and doubt hold me back. Take your RV trip, and keep us updated on where we need to go!

Lovely story. Thank you for sharing.

Docnaz said...


Billie, it is great to hear your backstory. Kinda like Lost. My hubby found his birth family in 2007 and found out he was 1/8th Norwegian. He has been to norway twice alone, then this past February with our 12 year old daughter. We are in Texas, too. West of Fort Worth. My bachelor degree was from UTA (Arlington).