There is something so wonderful about travel. Sometimes it’s an exploration, other times it is an escape. To me, all of my travel (I have been to 19 or 20 countries, and 30 states in the US!) can be summed up by the following quote:
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
Two years ago, I was feeling very lost. I was not sure what I was going to do with my degree once I finished college. I was not sure who I would be or what I would find waiting for me when I returned back to New Jersey after living in a different country for over 6 months. I was reeling from a deep personal loss, the death of one of my best friends, and feeling lonelier than ever.
I decided I needed to escape: escape my head, escape my thoughts, escape the faces I knew and escape the language I understood. I knew that just because my life felt dark, that the world had not become inherently darker, I just needed to seek the light again.
I purchased a one-way flight from Rome to Athens, Greece and armed with only one backpack with three sets of clothes on my shoulders, a toothbrush, my well-loved film camera (a Canon AE-1, courtesy of fellow artist Jimmy O’Donnel), a half broken GoPro (I am not as talented at snowboarding the Swiss Alps as I thought I would be) five rolls of film, and €200 in my pocket.
I ended up staying in Greece for almost 2 weeks, bouncing from Athens, to Mykonos, then Santorini, and back to Mykonos because I loved it so much.
I paid for AirBNB’s and group hostels by the day, met other young lost souls full of cheap liquor and dreams (Ouzo is NOT what I hoped it would be) I began to find the light again.
I surrendered myself to the universe, and the universe delivered, as she always does.
The Mykonos Airport I ended my adventure at was a much smaller affair than its Athenian counterpart, and as such, instead of major airlines running through it all day, it only had flights 3 times a day. One early morning block, one mid-afternoon block, and one block late at night. During these three moments of activity, 4th rate airlines would scoop up their 20-40 passengers (have I mentioned these planes were hardly more than little bi-planes) and jet off to larger airports nearby, where passengers could connect to flights to their international destinations.
On my last morning in Mykonos, as I ran along a cliffs edge (the one pictured above, as photographed the afternoon before), back to a group hostel in an alcove along the Aegean Sea, in the pre-dawn blue hue that 5am brings, with a bunch of strangers-turned-lovers-turned-friends, as we all desperately tried to make the “airport van” read: 2004 15 passenger van to catch our 6:30am flights off to different corners of the world, I realized something profound:
Peace starts with me
As the large group of 20 somethings I had become a part of for the night all navigated the strict airport security (and by strict I mean a stern-faced older gentleman with a metal detector wand…that’s literally it) and fumbled to find passports, phones, wallets, and various other crucial travel documents that had seemed unimportant at the club mere hours before, I sat down next to a college student from Australia who was struggling not to empty his stomach in front of the security guards and smiled.
When the sliding doors opened on to the tarmac and I ran up the steps to my plane, I felt lighter, and it wasn’t because I had left my shoes tied to my bed in the hostel, a fact I would not realize until I arrived home 10 hours later, after a flight transfer, 2 train transfers, and a 1.5 mile walk. I carried with me only my backpack, with two of the three sets of clothes still intact, €8.75 of my initial travel fund clinking around my pocket, and a handful of film waiting to be developed. I looked over my shoulder only once, thanked the beautiful island for providing for me so graciously, and ducked inside the plane as the rotors began whirring.
I have not been to Greece or the Greek Isles again since that day, and though I miss it, and look on these photos quite fondly, I wonder about the permanence of places. How even if I returned, I could never be the same man as I was the first time I landed there, meet the same people, or heal from the same wounds in quite the same way. I think thats what draws me back to to my insatiable desire to travel, time and again, even when life, money, and work won’t allow it.
Travel creates a private world. One that starts and stops with you and all those who lend their light in illuminating your path on that particular journey. That, to me, is the beauty of travel. The private world, no matter how terrible or wonderful it may have been, can never be returned to. Only visited on occasion in memories and dreams. I invite you now to visit Greece with me.
If you are a lover at heart, an adventurer who is falling endlessly in love with life, with your partner, or with your own self, I would love to capture your beautiful journey through life. Ready? GREAT! Let’s chat!