“We saw it and thought, this is Erin.”
Studying the book jacket in my hand, the crisp, block letters set against a recognizable image of a Chinese junk ship, I was intrigued. Turning it over in my hands, I was amazed that my friends were so adamantly certain that this was the book that epitomized me. I’ll admit I was dubious of their self-assuredness, but before I could utter a word of gratitude, voices began piping up around me:
“What kind of book is it?”
“What it is about?”
“Read the back cover!”
Pausing to collect my thoughts, my eyes settled onto the text:
In 1951, at the age of twenty-five, Leila Hadley, bored with her New York PR job, buys two tickets aboard a cargo ship headed for Hong Kong; one for herself and one for her six-year-old son Kippy. This decision sets her life on an entirely new course. After stops in Manila, Hong Kong and Bangkok, their travels take an unexpected turn when she meets four young men sailing their boat around the world, and convinces them to let her and Kippy join them.
In this lush and richly evocative travel narrative, Hadley offers sensual descriptions of the places she visits, lively accounts of the people and traditions, and a taste of the spontaneous joys of a life lived fully in the present. It is not only the luminous vitality of her prose that makes this travelogue such a pleasure to read, but the courage of her decision to toss expectations to the wind and embrace all the adventures the world has to offer – an inspiration to the adventurer that lurks within us all.
It was the best 30th birthday present a girl could ask for, even if she didn’t know it existed before that very moment.
In reading that back cover I felt connected to Miss Hadley in a way that went beyond adulation or, let’s face it, envy. Maybe it was the parallel of our lives, for I too work in PR and would love to have the temerity to cast my NY life aside and set sail for the Far East, minus the kid of course (being single and sans wee one). But alas, an even temperament and a life I loved kept me firmly rooted in my tiny Upper East Side apartment.
Four years later and this book has held a prominent place on my book shelf and in my memory (score one for my omniscient friends Rob and Taryn Phelan). Although my desire to travel and explore the world beyond my doorstep is still a dream that has yet to be realized.
While I won’t be selling all my earthly possessions and hopping a boat/plane/train/automobile (yet), my goal with this blog is to write about my love of travel: what I see, where I go and how immersing yourself into a new place, people and culture can give you not only those once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but afterward, once you’ve returned home, you find you are forever changed. The experience has left an indelible imprint on your soul and you find you have a more open, compassionate worldview. And since I’m a sucker for a good quote and let’s face it, Mark Twain is kind of brilliant, I’ll leave you with his thoughts on the subject:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” -Innocents Abroad
Couldn’t have said it better myself.