Dr. Seuss was on to something big when he wrote Oh the places you’ll go. I mean, every person has this big adventure waiting expectantly for them just around the corner. What is it going to be? That’s the thing, you quite simply don’t know. You have to wait to find out. There are some things that we can guess at or assume, but for the most part the details are never very clear, always a little bit hazy. But oh boy howdy do you know that life is sure going to take you places and lead you to things you never would have guessed would somehow show up on your radar.
For example, when I was a freshman in high school, I remember very clearly my very first Spanish class. I had a really great teacher, and he strongly encouraged all his students to go as far as they could in the Spanish courses available. Pretty frequently throughout the year he would point up at some project posters two girls had made for his AP Spanish class a few years before and remind us that they were white kids who knew no Spanish beforehand and had worked so hard that they actually went on to major in Spanish in college. He intended it to be motivating, but I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed at such a prospect and thinking, “There is no way I would ever be able to even come close to doing AP Spanish, and much less major in Spanish once I reach college. No way.” I looked at those posters and envied those girls their linguistic prowess.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, what did I end up doing a few years down the road but major in Spanish! And not only did I study it in grammar classes, I studied literature! And composition! And history! And culture! And art! I even went to Spain and spoke with the people there! And they understood me!!! I formed friendships, ordered food, interacted on a professional level, and even got asked sometimes if I was Spanish. What?! This wasn’t supposed to be something I could ever do, remember?
Heck, I even went to Italy and had conversations with Italians, me speaking Spanish and them speaking their own tongue, and we could communicate just fine! Crazy!
And now, just having finished two whole years of living and working in Madrid, Spain, here I find myself in Sydney, Australia, planning on a year’s stay. True, it’s an English speaking country (although complete mutual comprehension can still be a slight issue), but never when I was younger did I think that I would end up out here for longer than maybe perhaps a couple weeks’ visit.
Even at this moment I have no idea what this year is going to bring. I have a location. I have a hazy idea of what I might like to do (work a bit here, travel a bit there). But the exact details are so elusive that I really have absolutely no idea how things are going to go. I find myself full of expectation, waiting for the next adventure right around the bend, the next place or experience that might possibly rival Dr. Seuss’s imagination in unexpected beauty and strange piquancy.
Oh the places you’ll go… where might I be going?