Roots and Limbs
Roots and Limbs that’s what I’m made of. Actually, that was the title of my senior show finalizing my undergrad. My family has given me strong roots so that I could grow long limbs and those limbs are still growing today.
I spent my entire childhood in the same house in Newport News, VA. In a neighborhood where kids rode their bikes without helmets, spent hours trying to get lost but never crossing the “big road”, and went swimming at the neighborhood pool. We were told not to come in until dusk, but before the streetlights came on. I would spend weekends with my grandparents at the beach where they lived, which solidified my connection to water and my need for sand under my feet. I’d listen to stories of life on the Carolina farm from my Father, Grandfather and Aunts. I’d visit my Mother’s family and listen to their stories of life in the Navy, as missionaries in China and beyond, as educators, and international travelers. Two worlds so far apart connected for a while and built me.
With a strong foundation I started out into college, marriage, career and children. Planting myself with my husband in Powhatan, VA gave me the solid ground I needed to venture across the ocean to Spain, Italy and France. When I took my first student group abroad for 14 days I had never been out of the country, been away from my young children for that long, and had never been responsible for 20 other people and myself and into a country where I didn’t peak the language. Even with so many people around me I was alone. It was scary, exciting, eye opening, inspiring, validating, and liberating. That first trip to Spain changed my view of the world, my place in it, and its possibilities for me to grow, learn and live.
In many ways I’ve felt that my adult eyes had never fully opened until I traveled to Spain. Since then, they have never closed. Seeing what I had only studied about and navigating through the winding streets, merchants, and locals going about their daily life made me both appreciate where I came from and want to see more, experience more, and learn more from the foreign places and spaces I continue to explore. I always thought Italy would be the country rich with art and history that I would fall in love with. Yet I ended up in Spain first and experienced Picasso, Miro, Velázquez, Goya, walled cities, tapas, olive oil, heavenly wine, classical guitar, flamenco and Sangria that made me realize there were parts of this great culture that I wanted to absorb into my daily life. The question of what other great cultures appreciate different customs or ways of doing things that I could embrace into my own life has driven me to keep traveling