Nathan chasing a duck

Happy first, son!

Nathan? Hi. It’s your dad here. Is this thing on?

I know you can’t hear me. Text doesn’t transmit sound waves, I’m told. You can’t read this yet, either, because you still believe that books are delicious meals you haven’t quite figured out how to chew properly. But you might read this one day, on your iScreen 3D or Goggles-Bot Ultra or whatever all the cool kids use in 2030. When you do, here’s a virtual memento from your dad.

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Earth With Green Continents

A Girl Who Travels

I saw this post on Facebook. It’s called “Don’t date a girl who travels.”

It’s a charming post by a young woman named Adi, who loves to travel. It received some well-deserved attention. It spawned a “rebuttal” post, called—wait for it—“Date a girl that travels” and yet another post that asked whether you’d even want to date a girl who travels.

Thing is, these posts mostly focus on the extreme example of a girl who travels: the archetypal “free spirit” who won’t be tied down and refuses to live by society’s traditional rules. And sure, there are plenty of women like that. Yet there’s another kind of girl who travels. One who loves adventure, but also has a place to call home.

I know a girl like that.

I dated a girl who travels. I went to Vietnam with her. We sat side by side on two makeshift plastic chairs in the aisle of a train speeding toward Da Nang. We climbed a muddy, slippery mountain on Cat Ba, with only flip-flops on our feet. We slept on the floor in the house of a Hmong family in Sapa, under the cover of mosquito nets. We biked the roads of Hue, walked the streets of Hanoi, ate at a low-key riverside cafe in Hoi An. We took a rickety boat to the remote village of Viet Hai. We spent a night under the stars on the open waters of Ha Long Bay. We hiked a lot, swam a little, visited historic sites, got lost, struggled to communicate with the locals, laughed, got exhausted, rested, did it all over again.

Then we came home with lots of shared memories.

I dated a girl who travels. We went to Australia together. We sat side by side on the Greyhound bus that carried us from Sydney to Cairns. We stopped at Port Macquarie, Brisbane, Hervey Bay, and other places along the way. We hiked in the forests, petted koalas, fed kangaroos, saw a wild dingo, chased after an echidna to get that perfect shot. We held hands while snorkelling among the fish of the Great Barrier Reef, taking care to avoid nasty jellyfish stings. We swam in ice-cold waterfall pools, cooked a “barbie” in a park, struggled helplessly against the wind to set up a sun tent on a beach. We rode the quaint trams of Melbourne. We joined a crowd of locals in Federation Square to watch Australian Open, while the sun mercilessly scorched our pale skin.

There, in Australia, after the clock struck midnight on the 31st of December, 2012 (or was it the 1st of January, 2013?) and the Sydney fireworks were in full swing, I proposed to a girl who travels.

When we returned home, we were engaged.

I married a girl who travels. For our honeymoon, we flew to Hawaii. We aimed, for once, to relax and take things easy. We failed. There’s too much to see, too many places to visit, too many new things to try. So we did it all once more. We sat side by side in our rental car as we drove the winding road to the summit of Mount Haleakala to watch the sunset. We hiked the Kukui and Kalalau trails of Kauai (that’s a lot of K’s). We drove the famous road to Hana, exploring waterfalls, trails, and parks. We went to a traditional Hawaiian luau, learned to surf, and snorkelled the Molokini crater. We got lost and yelled at our treacherous GPS, got soaked in the rain, wandered aimlessly around a mall while looking for a place to buy groceries. We watched the sunset at Poipu beach and laughed at roosters by the Spouting Horn.

Then, as always, we went home, back to our daily lives.

We love our home. We love our dinners with friends, our cats, our separate hobbies, and our lazy evenings together. We do love to travel, but we also love all that other stuff we do in between the trips, while planning our next big adventure. We love whatever we do together. But that’s just because we simply love each other, I guess.

So, do you date a girl who travels?

For me, there is no doubt: Don’t just date a girl who travels. Travel with her. Explore the world with her. Do stupid stuff and laugh with her. Fall in love with a girl who travels. Marry the girl who travels. Then count yourself the luckiest boy in the world.