So, I’ve stated before that I am very different from the other members of my family. What’s different, you ask? The way I speak, the way I think, my dreams and aspirations, my taste in reading material, my taste in movies…(get the picture??). People have asked me, and I’ve asked myself, “What made me so different?” Well, I have given this a lot of thought, and I’m starting to think that my Nana is to blame. You see, I believe that people (children especially) are greatly influenced by the things to which they are exposed, but I think that reading material has the most affect. On this premise, I thought about the things to which I have been exposed the most, which are moving from place to place and National Geographic magazines. That’s where my Nana has influenced my life, albeit indirectly, a great deal.
For whatever reason, I wasn’t very close with my Nana as a child, nor did she seem that interested in me. Due to this distance between us, I received the same generic present for just about every birthday well into my teens (at some point, I just got a check in the mail). The generic present: a year’s subscription to National Geographic. I don’t know how interested a young child normally is in National Geographic magazines, though I do remember cutting out pictures from the magazines for projects in elementary school, but at some point I started to read them in earnest. In fact, I remember in junior high, my bedroom walls were covered with the maps I found in every other issue. To expand my collection, during my senior year in high school I spent two class periods as a library aid. That year the library was getting rid of old newspapers and magazines…and guess what they had??! Yup, National Geographics out the wazoo! I then had magazines older than myself, and they became my yellow drug….providing an incredible high (I mean this metaphorically of course).
With every glossy, yellow magazine that arrived, I became more enamored with other cultures, with dreams of traveling the world. I romanticized those roaming journalist, imagining that I was one of them, living a most wonderful life and taking gorgeous photographs which would inspire a whole new generation of vagabonds. With each map added to my wall of wonder my room resembled a cartographer’s office more than the room of a 12 year old girl, my knowledge of various cultures expanded, and my dreams became more extravagant. Floating down the Amazon, climbing the pyramids in Egypt, riding an elephant in India (a culture which fascinates me to no end), roaming the wilds of Alaska, going to the Christmas festivals in the Black Forest of Germany, learning to flamenco like the Spaniards in Madrid, climbing the stairs of the ruins in Ireland. These were my dreams, are my dreams, forever will be my dreams.
In the 8th grade, I decided that I would learn languages so that I could speak with as many people in the world as possible, to facilitate my travels, to bring my dreams closer. Therefore, in college I’ve studied French, Spanish, and a bit of Italian (I later tried German, but it was just too hard for my French-i-fied tongue). With these new words in my head I felt that I could conquer the world and begin my travels. Alas, life set in, along with student loans and the need to find a job, but I’m determined to never let my Geographic dreams fade. For now I console myself with periodic injections of a new issue. As an adult, I branched out to National Geographic Traveler magazine, and even started my nephew on their kid’s magazine…perhaps in the hopes of expanding his horizons as I felt mine had been. Sadly, after moving for the umpteenth time, I realized that I could no longer cart around my personal NG library, and recycled the lot of them. I still hope to have my name inside them one day though, to meet the people that live in the yellow magazine. One day.The difference between myself and my loving family? I’ve read more things, a wider variety of things than they ever have, I’ve traveled to different cities with no settling down in sight, I love foreign films (even if it means reading subtitles for 2 hours), and my dreams are still just as Yellow Magazine influenced as they have ever been. My dear family doesn’t very much like to roam as I do; their feet just aren’t as itchy. Their dreams consist of having children and a comfortable house, a happy life, among other things. My mother’s dreams: to win the lottery and provide well for her children and herself, and for me to have a baby….make that babies…sometime soon. My dreams, my dream job?? Eventually I want to be a contributing writer and photographer to the magazine that has most influenced my life; I want to travel the world (on the back of a camel, elephant, or donkey! Comfort shmomfort!). Are my dreams better than theirs? I don’t think so. We may not have the same dreams, we may not have the same definition of success or failure or even happiness, but having a head filled with different worlds, cultures, and ideas doesn’t make me any better or worse than them. It just makes us different, it just makes me a Vagabond.
P.S. Sorry for the poor quality of the photos. I had to take them covertly in the library as I was already getting looks for drooling all over the back issues. Did you know they let you check them out? As though I would remove the 1906 issue! I was sure that if it left the library, the whole place would tumble down around me as I passed the seal. (Do you like that Indiana Jones reference? Now I need a fedora and a whip!) If you have a sudden yearning to fortify yourself with some vintage NG awesomeness, I’m sure you can find a collection at your local library as I did. Want something more recent? Subscriptions are super cheap people! Do it, do it now! (I said that in my most awesome Arnold Schwarzenegger voice….just for you)