It was one of those long days and I needed to unwind. I fix myself a good drink: Tullamore Dew, one cube of ice.
It’s been a cold stretch and I yearn for warmer weather. I need time away with my family and long for our upcoming journey around the world. I reformed my entire life for this trip, and it time will come into fruition soon. Until then, I enjoy sipping my drink.
The computer was opened to my photo file so I decided to look through images we took of our most recent travels. There was a shot of me that my wife took that perfectly captured where I am in life today.
The midsection is a bit more rounded, the hair a lot less coiffed, the skin more weathered. The lines on my face are a physical narrative of sorts. I couldn’t believe how I have aged, so I ran to the bathroom and looked at myself in the mirror.
Physically, I longed for the younger version of me, but as I looked back upon the years I recalled just how far I’ve come. I remember the young man that adapted and immersed himself in the cultures of the countries he visited.
Staring at my reflection, I remembered the kid who couldn’t figure out the metric system (we learned the feet and inches system used in the States). I remembered that kid who couldn’t easily tell what time it was when he looked at the timetables of departures posted in train stations in Europe. The kid who preferred to dine in a McDonalds rather than having the plats du jour in Paris.
I remembered the young man that immersed himself in Italian culture and learned to have a cappuccino in the mornings only, and espresso during the rest of the day, as that is what’s considered proper. The young man that made sure he knew to say a few hospitable words in the language of the country he was visiting and not assume that they understood his.
“I’ve come a long way,” I think to myself.
In many ways, the man I saw in the mirror taught that kid, that young man, all of these things. It’s the man I am now who that taught that kid how to become a worldly person and a person who appreciated cultures other than his.
These lessons would not have been possible if not for travel.
On a train headed from London to York, I taught him how to convert military time. In Rome, I taught that same kid, in Italian, how to ask the concierge for a local place to eat lunch. Since then, he never stepped into a burger chain abroad again. In Pamplona, Spain that cocky young man with the perfect hair was taught how to convert meters into yards, as he tried to imagine how long the run was going to be with the bulls.
I smile at the man I see in the mirror and walk away from the mirror happy. I decided to study the photo again. What I saw most telling was the youthful smile I had as I looked out onto the Ligurian Sea. In some way, I will forever be a kid continuing to learn through travel.
Travel continues to inspire me to be a better version of myself.
It has helped me help others and teach others to become better versions of themselves. Travel inspires me, to inspire. Most of all, travel continues to keep me humble, by continuing to educate me about the world and the people in it.
I look forward to seeing my reflection in the mirror again in a year’s time.
By then my family and I will have already been traveling South East Asia for close to a year. I wonder what that older version of me will have taught me. I’m sure he’ll have a few more lines on his face to tell the story, and I’m sure there will be many photos of me smiling as I wonder and wander.
This was a guest post by Andrew Tolentino.
Andrew Tolentino is co-founder and head writer for Dish Our Town, a food and travel blog. He currently resides in New York City, with wife, Brenda and daughter, Bailey. Andrew was a former fashion professional turned blogger. He and his wife created Dish Our Town as a storytelling vehicle for their love of food and travel from all over the world. The Tolentino Family will be commencing their Round the World Travel this July 2016, starting in Southeast Asia.