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Imperial War Museum Duxford

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One of the world's few remaining Spitfires about to take off. 
My parents divorced just before my 11th birthday. While my single mother was at work on Saturdays, I'd spend the morning doing house chores with my siblings. We vacuumed rooms, did dishes, and folded laundry during the commercial breaks of Saturday morning cartoons. We were a team. When the cartoons and the chores were done, I'd walk two blocks to the Oak Park Public library and spend the rest of the afternoon there. This carried on for years.

There was a series of World War II books that I treasured and checked out repeatedly. Each volume was tall, about 3/4 of an inch thick with a beautiful navy colored hardcover, and covered a specific battle in the war. One volume especially captured me: The Battle of Britain. Characterized as almost entirely an air battle, the Royal Air Force, short of pilots, had to defend against the German Luftwaffe in order to prevent a German invasion of Britain. During those afternoo…

20170429 Stratford-Upon-Avon

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On April 29th, I decided to take a day trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, where William Shakespeare was born, married, died, and was buried. The town was almost two hours away. While I'm used to driving much longer distances in the US, it would be the longest drive made in the 1999 Nissan Micra I purchased here in the UK for 550 GBP last December. To drive home the personal significance of this trip, I've been a huge Shakespeare fan since I was 12. In the sixth grade, I played Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream and could quote almost every line from Romeo and Juliet. This trip would also be the first done entirely by myself in Europe.
The drive was pleasant and carefully timed so that I would not need to rush. I felt fairly confident that the car would hold up after changing the oil the day before. Played on a loop were the feel good tunes of the new soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. As I drove, I certainly sensed a strange quiet. There was no one to talk to. Even …

Heartache is the Fuel of My Travel

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I live with wound in my heart so big that I have to shove the world into it to stop the bleeding. Maps, with their threads of longitude and latitude become a bandage.

Nothing motivates me to travel more than heartache. Just before my trip to Rome, I was hurt badly by someone that I surely thought was my soulmate, as profound or foolish as that may sound. She seemed to accept everything about me. We shared the same dream. Then she took all of that away, despite my promise and resolve to ultimately be and go wherever she went. I had planned to leave the UK at the end of the year and find work closer to her. When the safety and certainly of your life's plans are torn away, you have no choice but to run out into the world wondering if there is a place you belong.

Before I left for Israel, I had another letdown. Nothing helped my resiliency more than putting physical and mental distance between myself and what I was letting affect me. I simply became too busy to care. It was like elec…

Souls

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Somewhere near Red River Gorge in Northern Kentucky, 2011. 
I heard somewhere that you encounter the same twenty people in your life over and over again. And I'm starting to believe that it's true more and more. The more I travel, people I meet start to seem increasingly familiar. It's as if I recognize some underlying code within them; their soul which I've seen in others before.

Last week in Texas, I met a guy who volunteered to help me out with some gunsmithing. His easy going demeanor and large frame reminded me of a guy I worked with in Virginia. That guy reminded me of the head jeweler at my college jewelry store job (I was a salesman, I didn't rob jewelry stores).
I lived near Louisville, KY during the summer of 2011. I'd often go to the Barnes and Noble in Elizabethtown for coffee and new book after work, but mostly because I missed the familiarity of another one of my college jobs. One day, I encountered an older bookseller who had the same friendly, a…

One Year Since My End of Time in Service

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It has been one year since my End of Time in Service (ETS). This was my farewell speech:
Before I went Active Duty, I was a Creative Writing student. I loved writing short stories, screenplays, and poetry. It was my passion. But I also loved my country. So now I look back at the last five years and I ask, “What was the story here?” It sure as hell wasn’t an action story. Maybe a comedy. An eccentric writer-turned-officer who loved to see Soldiers smile, and didn’t shy away from parodying the many ironies of Army life. Was it a tragedy? The story of a man who let go of his passion in order to fulfill a sense of duty, already knowing that in many ways he’d be alienated? However you spin it, I was just a guy who loved my country. I wanted to serve it in a time of war and I didn’t want anyone else doing my fighting for me. William Shakespeare once wrote, “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his tim…

The Best Journey is a Return

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Some of my favorite journeys are trips back to places in my past. Each trip to the past seems to have its own lesson or point. One thing I discovered during this past visit to Texas was the joy in returning to the people and things I left behind when I moved to the U.K.

Sunday, I got to take my two teenage stepsisters to lunch. I never got much mentorship in life, even though I actively sought it out. So, I try to provide that to these girls. And it goes both ways. I simply enjoy their company because they're great people. It was nice to take them to Razzoo's (where I held my 21st birthday dinner), introduce them to Cajun food, and just talk to them. 

The Grey Ghost is my 2008 Infiniti G37S, purchased in January 2013 after returning from Afghanistan. This is more than just a car, or even a fast car. Its a symbol of personal pride for me. I pined for the Inifiti G35 when I was in high school and only a few years later I owned its successor. To me, it's the embodiment of wil…

Texas 7-12 April, 2017

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The Wedding


I came back to Texas this month for my best friend's wedding. Phil and I bonded during college because it was rare to find another artistic individual in ROTC. While I continued along the military route, Phil left and pursued his passion and got his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. When I first decided to travel more in 2014, weddings gave me a good reason to go places. When you get a wedding invitation, a friend is asking you to be there for them on what they believe to be the happiest day of their life. This has always meant a lot to me and for the last few years, I attend 4-5 weddings annually. So far, they've taken me to places like Chicago, Pensacola, San Diego, Los Angeles and throughout Texas.

Phil's wedding was particularly special because I got to be a groomsman and had the honor to propose a toast instead of the Best Man (it was kind of a hit). Anyway, I couldn't think of a better occasion to bring me back to Texas. The wedding was held at Phil's…