I live a very privileged life. There’s no doubt in that. My husband and I live in Honolulu, Hawaii and have been residents here for the past fourteen years. We’ve been here so long in fact that we are now referred to “Auntie and Uncle” (a term of respect) from the young generation out here. We live a quiet life for the most part in our modest one bedroom apartment. My husband works in film and television by trade, and is an Eco Tour Guide by day. I fluctuate from working in office’s when I feel a sense of responsibility, to the care free gypsy that lingers inside my soul. We have a fourteen year old feline fur baby, Kasha, who was diagnosed with breast cancer this year. We spend every day giving thanks to have her in our lives. We don’t have any children, at least non that I’m aware of. And we both grew up on the beautiful west coast of Michigan where we also lived very privileged lives.
My husband and I have always been gypsy’s. His life started off on the road when he was born to hippie parents living in Canada. He spent the first five years of his life living in a teepee and a converted milk truck to be his home. I was born in Chicago, and moved to Sweden with my family when I was five. We lived there, went to school, learned the language, met my mother’s side of the family (she’s an immigrant from Sweden), then moved back to the states a year later settling in about the same time that my husband and his family did. We grew up about ten minutes away from each other in the small towns of Grand Haven and Spring Lake. When we finally met it was like meeting my travel buddy for life. Our first date was a road trip to Kentucky for a weekend exploring the caves, and natural beauty.
Our travel bug never stopped after that. We traveled over 35 U.S. states and Canada in the span of ten years. Often times we’d be gone for three weeks. We married in Hawaii in 1999 and got engaged in Hawaii the year before. After our engagement we told each other that eventually we would move out to Hawaii and use it as our home, and the point to travel to foreign countries. In 2009, after watching the movie UP and crying for two weeks straight afterwards, we decided to travel to Thailand. It was perfect timing. I had just been laid off from the financial industry just as the markets were crashing. I collected unemployment, and pulled out my 401k. We spent six weeks traveling on the road in Thailand and Cambodia. It’s always a mixed bag of emotions when you come home. You first feel elation and don’t take the small things for granted, like running hot water or paved streets. Eventually though, that travel bug comes back and bites you harder than ever. That year we also traveled to Utah and Arizona to hike Bryce Canyon, did some rock climbing in California and traveled back to Michigan to see our families.
By the time the year had ended, we had traveled probably close to 12,000 miles. It wasn’t too long after that though that we both started getting restless again. In 2011 my husband surprised me when he said he wanted to take me back to Sweden to see my family. It had been twenty-two years since the last time that I was “home”. My parents still lived in Michigan, but my aunt, uncle, cousins and cousin’s cousins still live there. We spent four weeks reconnecting with my family and traveling to southern Sweden to explore Ystad and Malmos, stopping by to visit Ales Stenar (Sweden’s Stone Hedge), and a Viking Village eventually to my home town of Göteborg. Being home also brought back many mixed emotions from that trip. My family, my once home, and still a longing to explore. Maybe it’s my Viking blood, but I just can’t seem to stay in one place for too long.
With December 23rd, 2012 around the corner, and the impending doom of the world, we thought it would be fun to go to the heart of the doomsday prophecy to Peru. We decided to wait though until May when the weather would be a little bit more favorable for us. We spent four weeks traveling around Peru visiting Machu Picchu, Nazca Lines, Lima, Cuzco, Areuipa, and so much more. No stone went left unturned on that trip. We stayed in beautiful Urabumba where we were greeted with cacao tea to help us acclimated to the high elevation. We traveled by bus, boat, train, planes and automobiles. I brushed up on my Spanish and got us out of some very tricky situations. Most notably, catching our bus to head up to Machu Picchu when we were already late. We even found a Swedish Embassy while in Peru that brought joy to my heart. Ironically, the rumor in my family is that my great-uncle went to Peru and found gold in the mountains. When he got back to Sweden, he bought my families summer home on Styrsö. Who knows, there may be a long lost relative somewhere in Peru.
Since we got back from our Peru trip, there hasn’t been any international traveling. Unfortunately, that same year we were on the road my grandmother passed away. Then a few months later my grandfather died, then my dad. It was a wonderful trip that was overshadowed by the awful year of losing so many people that we loved. These past few years I have been trying to find myself again. I was self-employed for most of that time. This past year re-entering the workforce and realizing that I have really outgrown living forty hours of my life trapped in a cubicle.
There are certain things in my life though that I always come back to:
I had had a pretty successful business when I was a wedding and engagement photographer from 2009-2011. But living in Hawaii and working in that field almost makes it impossible to compete with another more seasoned photographer. Then digital photography came along and was accessible to everyone, and instead of hiring photographers, brides and grooms would ask their Aunt Edna to take their photos for them. I felt defeated, and left photography to do tarot readings. Which in itself is also a very bizarre “business”. I think that’s why I finally decided to go back to office work. It was safe. A steady paycheck, health insurance, a 401k. The perks of working in an office job seemed that it would be worth having a peace of mind knowing that there would be some sort of long lasting reward when we finally retired.
But that fantasy of being a grown-up quickly disappeared as I settled more and more into a life that no longer suited me. I am not the type of person to dress up for work everyday. I like taking naps at 2pm, so working until 5pm really sucks. Only getting the weekends off is a drag. I rather have a couple of quiet days off during the week and working weekends than the other way around. Most notably though, is only getting two weeks off paid vacation after working one year. Typically you won’t get three weeks off until you put in at least five years at the same company. Every time you go somewhere else, you have to start all over again. I’ve been mulling it over and over again in my head what it is that I want. I’ve tried everything from starting up an NPO to tarot readings, to writing, to photography, to working in dead-end jobs. I felt lost and a little hopeless. Until the reality sunk in a few day’s ago. I am a photographer. Period. That is who I am, how I see the world. I think about all of the shoots that I have done over the years, and never once on a shoot I thought about how much I hated my career. I loved it. I loved everything about it. I loved the creativity, working my own hours, photo editing, meeting people from around the world with their own stories to tell. You lose that when you don’t have the exposure anymore.
So here I am, not even a year after I started back in the world of the office, that I’m ready to leave corporate for good. We’re planning out our next trip (stay tuned to find out where), and I’ll be saying Hejdå once again to my partitioned office.
In the meantime, I’ll be updating my blog with information from Thailand, Cambodia, Sweden, Peru, and the U.S. Luckily, I’ve also keep journals with me all of these years, so I have many good travel hints for those currently looking for more information.
So Happy Thanksgiving my friends. I hope that you will enjoy the journey with me as my new life as a travel writer/ photographer commences.