Tags Posts tagged with "dreams"


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I love to travel. Experience the culture, the people, the food…I absolutely love it. Going to Europe is on my bucket list and I can’t wait until that finally happens. Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, London…I feel like they’re waiting for me to come and discover their grandeur. People have told me that traveling changes you; that you come back a better and more knowledgeable. Some people have said they found the meaning of life, or their calling, what they’re supposed to do. I sincerely hope that happens to me, since I am sheltered. I admit it: I live in a big house, my parents can afford to send me to any college I want, and I am told to follow my dreams and do what makes me happy. I know that others are not as privileged as I am. I want to help; I want to see everything, as much as I can. But for now, I’ll settle for adventures that occur in my dreams and one other place. I have been on many vacations, but my best travel escapes happen when I don’t even have to leave my house. Thinking back, I can count hundreds of places that I have been too, all the while curled under a blanket in my bed. “How can this be?” you might ask. One word: books. I fought with Harry, Ron, and Hermione against Voldemort, I trained at Camp Half-Blood with Percy and Annabeth, I discovered Narnia with Lucy…so many wonderful times and I didn’t have to carry a suitcase! Reading has always been my escape, since a lot of people were mean to me throughout elementary and middle school. I would lose myself in a world completely different from my own and stay there for hours. Book characters are absolutely lovely. They don’t judge, they take you with them on absolutely AMAZING adventures, and they certainly don’t mind when you take a Tumblr break to post about your ships and how you can’t even. This is kind of silly, but sometimes when I read an exceptional book, I can almost pretend that I’m standing there with them. When Katniss covered Rue with flowers, or when Minny put the you-know-what in the pie for Miss Hilly. I laugh, I cry…books have such an impact on our lives and we don’t even realize it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ll finish a book, go to bed, and then dream about said book, where I’m alongside my favorite characters! I think that really shows the merit of a good book. It made such an impact on you that you can’t help but think about it even in your subconscious. Traveling through books is just as important as real life traveling. Books are an escape, for the people who are too poor to travel or too scared. Those people are out there, and while they are saving up money to travel, they need something to find solace in through the dark times. I am one of those people, and I travel through books.  

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As the temperature outside barely topped 10 degrees Celsius, and I found myself with a rare day-off, I happily spent the majority of the day at my grandma’s sitting inside with cat Sammie curled up on my knee. This was a moment that I had longingly craved whilst abroad, and in such a moment I found myself wondering if I could bear going away again.

I spent four months working and traveling across France during the northern hemisphere summer. When I returned back home to Australia in July, I was not only season-confused and flipped upside down, but also left wondering how to keep my restless feet fixed upon the ground. As I sat cuddling my cat, I thought to myself – surely this is enough. This is what I missed while I was away. Why can’t this be the reason to stay?

A similar feeling encompasses me when I take my beloved dog for a walk, or admire my horse and feed him carrots simply for being adorable. I grew up on property with sheep and chickens and ducks, being the weird horse girl at school with my best friend, and my life has always revolved around my pets. My animals are all the trusted care of someone who I know will give them the love and support they need. My sister, an avid animal lover, effortlessly looks after all the animals on our small property. And I will be eternally grateful to my grandma for taking in my cat, a decision I had to make when I moved back home before heading abroad. Giving up Sammie was tough, but I knew she needed someone more stable and settled than myself.

The wanderlust can certainly be difficult to carry. As it weighs pressingly on my mind, it always finds a way to insert itself into conversations, and encourages me to search regularly for airfare sales. This wanderlust brings with it so many sacrifices and so much guilt. Yet, it brings so many adventures at the same time. My young and restless gypsy soul can’t resist that.

Perhaps the guilt is just enhanced when I concentrate on how comfortable my life is in Australia. I know I have a good life here, a life that many desire. I have two university degrees and stable job prospects, yet I am too unsettled to know how to use it. My life isn’t perfect here, there are memories I long to move away from. But I feel guilty because I have so much to stay for but all I want to do is leave.

Aside from the pets that break my heart every time I leave them, my friendships suffer as well. I see my life moving in such a vastly different direction to my friends who have a stable life in our hometown. They see it too. They hear it in our conversations where I find a way to either talk about past travel experiences or discuss plans for new adventures. Meanwhile, they tell me about choosing tiles for their new home or progress on their weddings plans. This is a life so foreign to me. I love hearing about their exciting futures and the happiness it will bring them. But they see that I will not be settled for some time. I see it in myself as well which both frightens and entices me.

Sometimes it isn’t even me who brings up the travel discussions; sometimes I am encouraged to talk about my plans because they ask me. But I feel guilty for always reminding people that I am leaving, one day or another. I can’t deny the selfishness in my decision to chase a life abroad. And I know that eventually I may not have these friendships to return to, because their lives will move on without me. Because I will be elsewhere.

It surprises me then, when the wanderlust teaches me about the friendships that are true and valuable. Through flittering about in other parts of the world, I’ve found the friends that are prepared to stand by me, and mean it when they say no matter what.

My anxiety about leaving my pets and my friendships are not separate entities. As my friends ask me about my travel plans, they also ask me about my pets. They know how much these animals mean to me and how much I will miss them. ‘If you ever need anyone to take care of your cat, just let me know,’ many friends have offered. My grandma is a champion for taking on the responsibility of my darling cat. But she often goes away herself on little holidays. My best friend was more than happy to stay at my grandma’s house with my cat while she was away for a week and I was in Europe. She was first in line of a number of friends who offered to do the same. At this, my heart was filled with happiness to realise it is possible to have it all.

Essentially I feel guilty for this traveling lifestyle I desire makes me a selfish person. For this reason I am unbelievably lucky and grateful to have people in my life still standing by me, supporting me in these crazy plans I have to wander endlessly.

And when I reflect upon it too much, the guilt awakens and heightens the post-travel depression. That state of mind which is only present when I find myself with moments of rare free time. My mind finds it impossible to relax so it searches through these thoughts and analyses everything it can. Here the guilt takes place and I find the only way to ease it is to plan my next runaway scheme.

And I begin to wonder: how does one achieve happiness when one is always torn between two desires. When I am here, I want to be there. And when I am there, I long to return.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

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A few years ago my family started researching our genealogy, and I found out that my great great grandfather, John Ogren, was from Sweden. I have since come to the conclusion that it was Mr. Ogren’s biggest mistake leaving Sweden, and I have made it my life’s mission to get back to Sweden at all costs. If I can’t live there, a visit to the country seems like a great place to start.

Don’t get me wrong- America isn’t a bad place. My family has made a decent life here and I’m sure John Ogren had his reasons for moving here. Call it wanderlust, but when I realized I had roots in a place far away from me, I developed an intense longing to know more about Sweden. It became an obsession, and I’ll say that I know far more about Swedish culture than anyone in my life realizes. I’ve gone into locally owned bookstores to dig up books written in Swedish, as is evidenced by the picture above. I treasure these little pieces of Sweden and hold onto them as promises of what is to come.

The idea of Sweden inspires me; when I think of Sweden I envision mundane but educational PBS-like television shows that their cable is chalk full of. In fact, most Swedes are avid fans of American culture, which only adds layers of irony onto the situation of me wanting to move there.

Sweden’s blue colored,  yellow striped flag evokes to my mind concepts like Swedish Neutrality, a policy of avoiding wars of all cost, something that the current country I live in has made no point of avoiding, much to the general country’s dismay.

Then there is  Melodifestivalen, a music contest of Swedish artists that I can only describe as a much smaller and more modest version of American Idol. This contest is the perfect representation of  the Swedish phrase “lagom”, a word that has no direct English translation but roughly means ‘not too little, not too much’. Lagom is a philosophy that most swedes strive to live their life by. Contrast this against America’s desire for the bigger and better, and you can see why so many Swedes like John Ogren would desire the life of an American and vice versa.

I believe that everyone has an idea in their head of where they would be ‘happier’. It doesn’t always have to be somewhere exotic and far away. Some people have dreams of moving to New York City or a quiet town in Iowa. One of my cousins has Irish genealogy and  has been fascinated with bagpipes and Irish styled pubs longer than I can keep track of. We all pick a place that could be better than our current situation- and we all have our reasons for doing it.

For so long, I have beaten myself up for not fitting the American stereotypes. I have never been a fast talking business woman, nor patriotic and sports loving. Throughout my life, it was always more appealing to retreat to a corner of the room and try not to draw any attention to myself. I have always hated conflict. These are things that my culture has made me feel ashamed of, things that I have always thought I should grow out of. My dreams of Sweden and one day visiting there have encouraged me to be more myself. I realize that the world is my oyster and that certain parts of the oyster are more welcoming to people of my general disposition than others are.

In many ways, Sweden is a part of who I am, since it is where my family came from originally. It is also a part of me because it has become a dream of mine to return to the place that some of my ancestors called home. I am a recluse; I never much leave the house except to fulfill my duties of being a full time college student and to grab the occasional coffee that will keep me up all night studying. Though I generally dislike going anywhere too far from home, the idea of visiting Sweden invigorates me and makes me think one day, when I have the money saved up, I may be brave enough to step on that plane and watch the forest covered hills from the airplane window as the craft swoops onto the landing strip. I imagine myself stepping off of that plane and reveling in the progress I’ve made from being such a homebody.


I may have never been to the destination that I so dream of traveling to, but it’s the idea of traveling there that keeps me going. Maybe that’s how my Great Great Grandfather John Ogren felt about America.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Gratitude Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Surf’s up!

I’ve been in utter lust with all things surfing as far back as I can remember. However, it was my choice to make ours a long-distance relationship; I worshipped board-carrying athletes from afar. How I wanted to learn! However, the barriers against me were too formidable.

First off, you have to do this sport in the arch enemy of females: a bathing suit. That precluded me from attempting it for all of my teen years and throughout my twenties.

Body issues aside, my thirties made me wiser. This meant that instead of admitting the truth (fear was making me too terrified to even try it), my reasons to avoid learning became more clever. I’d offer up seemingly rational excuses like not having health insurance, the time and costs involved or, something that anyone can understand: not wanting to humiliate myself. Under my “reasonable” exterior was a scared-y cat. These justifications allowed me to put aside any thoughts of me surfing. Still, I loved the sport. Often I went to the beach and watched, I took in surf movies, but my relationship remained a long-distance one. And so it seemed destined to always be. Until “fate” intervened.

They say that one can often find courage when he leaves his “normal” environment. I am proof of that. Vacationing in Indonesia, board rentals and lessons were only a few bucks. Finally I had summoned up the courage: the waves were perfect and no one knew me here. The day had arrived! I was so excited (and scared). While walking on a plank in the road, it gave way and I hurt my shin. It wasn’t going to happen this trip after all. Worse yet, I had myself believing that it was a “sign” from above to never try this hazardous sport. My love got shelved.

Two years later, I was again on holiday, but this time in Mancora, a lovely beach town in Peru. I was doing what I do well. Sitting on the sand and observing the amazing athletes. Something caught my eye. A teensy bikini-clad girl, lugging a board that was bigger than she was, ran past me. Fearless, she dove into the ocean, paddled out and waited for the wave. She looked so confident and regal atop her surfboard. I couldn’t believe it. That little girl was keeping up with the much older and more experienced guys! She inspired me so much that I decided to get a lesson, even as my sage self reiterated old obstacles, pointing out that she was young and limber.

Melo, my gorgeous instructor was charming, but his promise that “If you don’t stand up, you don’t have to pay” clinched the deal.

He made the whole thing like a fun adventure. The moment that I stood up remains one of my happiest memories.

“Yessssss!” I screamed. Ah, shoot. Now I’d have to pay the owner.

Melo looked at me and beamed. He high-fived me, “Mi Reina!”

Could it be that I was a natural? The next time, when I almost kicked Melo in the face, I realized he was behind me, holding the board, stabilizing it for me. We both had a good laugh.

Without his assistance, it was much harder. After a few tumbles, I did eventually get the hang of it and was able to stand up on my own. The peacefulness, the sense of accomplishment, the feeling of being one with the ocean. The moments that I am surfing are the most liberating I have ever known.

When surfing, you are forced to be in the moment. If you start to let all that monkey chatter take over, you lose your concentration and go down. You could crash against rocks or bam into another surfer. Surfers die every year; I don’t want to be one of them.

Admittedly, as much as I had enjoyed our long-distance relationship, this new development takes my love with surfing to a whole new dimension. To have overcome the self-made obstacles at middle age makes the entire affair even sweeter. I recommend surfing to anyone. It’s a road to a freedom that so many never get to experience.

About the author: JC Sullivan has been to over 110 countries and every continent and loves the freedom found in backpacking. Since Peru, she’s surfed in Panama and the Galapagos Islands (Isabella). An award-winning author, JC constantly challenges herself creatively believing that comfort zone is a euphemism for “rut”.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter the Independence Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

LosAngeles2008I consider myself a city person. It’s perhaps the beautiful skylines and countless things to do that attracts me to these areas with huge, dominant buildings. London, Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona, Macau, Tokyo, and Paris are just a few of the international city destinations that I hope to be able to cross off my bucket list in the section of “Places I Absolutely, No Question, Need to Visit”. And while I hope to be able to spend equal amounts of time in all of these locations, there’s one destination a bit closer to home that I wish to stay in a bit longer. That place? Los Angeles, California. This may seem surprising to some, as it is very uncommon to hear, “I really need a vacation, I should go to Los Angeles!” The more likely travel location for the average overworked American would probably be somewhere with white sands, big seas, and colorful margaritas. In my case, however, I feel as though I have a special connection with this famous (and infamous) town where dreams are born (and often times “reconsidered”).

I’m from Seattle, Washington, a well-known city in the United States. Seattle, and the state of Washington as a whole for that matter, has a popular reputation for its rain. While the rain does impact the state during the majority of the year, summers here are absolutely gorgeous, and are usually rain-free. Los Angeles, on the other hand, has perhaps an opposite reputation, in that it’s almost always nice weather year-round. I’m not an enormous fan of the rain, so in my ideal future, I would spend much of my year in Los Angeles, while enjoying a bit of the summer months back in my hometown. I’m currently a college student who interests include all things media. I have a fascination with the art of movies, television, and popular culture, which is why Los Angeles is more than perfect for someone with my tastes. I have such a passion for wanting to see all of the things I see on screen in person, and in order to accomplish that, I have to spend much of my time in this city. All of the cameras and lights entice me and really drive me to work my hardest to be able to call that my daily surroundings.

It has always been one of my missions in life to spend time doing what I love to do, and one of the unsaid requirements in being able to do those things is being located in a place that interests me. I’ve been to L.A. twice in my life, and during those two times, I knew that there would be more for me to do every single time I would come back to the city. Los Angeles may not be the conventional getaway location for most Americans, but this city is somewhere that I feel I belong. It’s as though it is calling me to go there, and one day, I will gladly answer that call. The times in my life that I have spent traveling have just begun, and I am absolutely ready to go on those journeys.

-Jonathan Keyes

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BOGOTAA heart strives off of dreams and encouragement in life. Whether someone believes they have a dream or not, everybody has hopes and desires. Despite the amazing truth in this, we still let so many things get in the way of us and our dreams. We don’t go out and explore the world or seek to help others accomplish their dreams in the way that we should either. I was lucky enough to experience the joy of traveling and serving others once and I am determined to return again someday.

My name is Cheyenne and 13 months ago, I went on a short term mission’s trip to Bogota, Colombia. I had been looking forward to this trip for quite some time yet when the time actually came, I didn’t want to go. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to help or serve. It was not that I didn’t want to travel. I simply was afraid to go to another country. What if the language was too much of a barrier? What if I could not handle saying goodbye when the time came? What if I or somebody else going was injured or killed while we were down there? I knew my fears sounded ridiculous but I couldn’t rid myself of the thoughts. I tried my hardest to get out of the trip the night before we were to leave but it was pointless. I had already paid and there were people counting on me.

As the plane took off and we stopped on the way, my mind raced. I slept; I wrote. I prayed and I cried. I could not understand why I was so nervous. As we landed in Bogota and stepped off of the plane, we were greeted by unusually warm weather and a very kind man. The orphanage that we would be working with for those 10 days is called Children’s Vision International and it was started decades back by a woman named Jeanene Thicke. Some years after moving from Wisconsin, United States to Bogota, Colombia, she married a wonderful man named Richard. This was the man that met us at the airport Can you imagine marrying someone in a foreign country who already had about 50 children!? It may seem insane to us but I respect them both so much for their love and courage and dedication throughout the years.

The ride to the orphanage was crazy. Rich drove us in a bus and in the same crazy way as the rest of the drivers. He explained that you see plenty of cars but the most popular form of transportation is by motorcycle because you can weave between cars and there is less chance of being robbed while on the road.

As the days passed by and we would get up every morning at eight to work, it became a blessing instead of an obligation. We played games and bonded with the children. We baked with Jeanene and helped out at the school. We took trips to the local shops, markets, and the mall in the afternoons and bonded with each other as well. The days were busy but they went by so quickly. I was learning a lot but I don’t think that the truth of the circumstances down there had really sunk in yet. If not, it most certainly did that last Saturday there.

A few days before we left, we took a trip up to a mountain. A couple of the children from the orphanage had formed a group to put on skits and others came along simply to help. We went to distribute food and water to the people that lived on the mountain. There was a family of 12 living in a 3 bedroom house that the husband made himself out of wood. They’re bathroom was a hole in the ground with a toilet seat over it. There was another family with a one room house and a new born baby. They had a fridge, a sink, a couple of toys, and one bed. That was all. It really hit me then how blessed we truly are in America – how blessed I am.
Bogota may be a place of poverty and I may not speak the language but no place has ever touched my heart the same. I had always wanted to travel even before that trip but now I am determined to return there as well as travel other places over the years. I want to learn and experience in new ways and help others reach their goals and dreams in the process. I encourage everyone to take a trip to another country, even if it is only for a week or two. It will amaze you how much you can learn simply through travel.

About the Author: My name is Cheyenne Katsma and I am originally from Wisconsin but am currently attending college in Illinois. I am a secondary English Education major but would love to do anything with writing as well.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

travelpicWhere do I feel inspired? It doesn’t have a name. I can only describe the region of space to you. Sometimes this place has four or more walls. The enclosure changes shape and size by the hour. When the temporary barriers finish serving their purpose, they transform into oak trees, mountain ranges, or another face of nature. The scenery around me tends to blend together and make me sleepy. I drift into a dream. My eyes provide no use for me here. Neither do my limbs or my organs or my teeth. Where I go while my body sleeps must stay a secret. For a few REM cycles each night, I know I live in a land without boundaries or expectations.

Once I wake up, I refuse to move before I remember that I don’t need to repeat what I did yesterday. My life at night prepares me for an existence on the edge. I shake off the dust and notice the walls I saw a day ago have shifted their moods. Some appear welcoming with blinding light. Others continue to hold on to the evening that enveloped them. If I spot a window, I gaze beyond the glass. I keep at my pre-breakfast brooding until I register my reflection and morning breath. Out there, in here. Both mean the same thing. I determine their worth. I decide what to take and what to return. I own no coordinates.

In this tangible world of mine, an assortment of actors perform their roles. I never expect much as an adult. If they happen to speak my language, friendship can blossom and persist for ages. A rare event. I get overwhelmed with possibilities and miss opportunities. I drown in thought. When a muse does choose to sing its siren song, I exhaust myself trying to connect with the force by focusing on all components of the moment. I botch most attempts. Logic fails me here. These particular instances possess the qualities of a solid, but I would have better luck if I grasped at vapor. The other bits still exist, but my interactions with them usually dissolve into muted moods or sense data. Perhaps I should give up searching, wandering. The impulse to create appears to disappear as frustration grows…

A sudden burst of insight sprouts from my brain! The rule reveals itself: every minute has the potential to mutate paths and impact the direction of my footsteps. Why chain my mind to time? Or details? I cannot tolerate a marionette fate controlled by money, weather, and no trespassing signs. I crave motion. I think I understand the reason for my triangulation. Shall I call my newfound discovery “freedom”? Labeling a phenomenon brought on by a random firing of synapses with a word like that could throw me off course. The architectural or geological surroundings seem to matter little. The biological bond always triumphs. The camaraderie that develops between beings who will and desire love and acceptance outlasts the duration of any organism. Wherever this link occurs, you might find me.

About the Author: Zachary Tipton lives somewhere between the Redwoods and the Rocky Mountains. He spends most of his free time writing music and short stories. He also enjoys painting portraits of famous figures and family members.

Thank you for reading and commenting. Please enter our next Travel Writing competition and tell your story.

Prevention Magazine January 2014
Prevention Magazine January 2014
Prevention Magazine January 2014

Thank you to Prevention Magazine for including me in their “Go For It” section for January 2014!

“Staying active is my passport to adventure.”

Lisa Niver Rajna, 45

Teacher, travel writer

When the travel industry went into a tailspin after 9/11, I lost my job as a senior assistant cruise director. Heartbroken over the fact that my days of traveling had come to an end, I wound up back at home, consoling myself with ice cream and chocolate-covered almonds. I was at my heaviest when I met my future husband, George Rajna. George had spent two years in the Peace Corps and was always looking for his next adventure. I quickly realized that it was time for me to get back in shape—for me, for him, and for all of the amazing trips we could take together. We started hiking on the weekends, and I cleaned up my eating habits. Within a year I’d shed 28 pounds, and felt ready to take on the world. Since then, George and I have traveled to 24 countries, started our own website, We Said Go Travel, and published a memoir of our first sabbatical, Traveling in Sin. One of my favorite memories is trekking in Nepal. After four days of walking uphill through rain, sunshine, and up endless stairs, I realized we made it to Ghorepani. As I communed with the tall mountains, I realized I can do anything. 

Thank you to everyone involved for including me in the “Go For It” Section! I really appreciate it! I hope you buy a copy of the magazine today! Personally I cannot wait to hold it in my hands and read it out loud! Did you see me in First for Women Magazine? Check it out here! I loved the photo shoot!

WATCH: Traveling In Sin Book Trailer


new zealandI was in familiar territory. In the words of our bus driver who was playing tour guide, on my left was low grass while much farther on my right was Mount Cook, New Zealand’s tallest mountain. “Now isn’t that a lovely view, ladies and gentlemen?” he asked over his microphone. Yes it is, I thought.

We entered a fork in the road and came to a small town. All along the main street were the usual – a general store, a bakery, restaurants and cafés.

The bus stopped and our driver turned to us. “All right, this is Tekapo. We’re stopping here for a while then it’s off to the lake but if anyone wants to walk there, I’ll see you in fifteen minutes.” I left in a flash.

I had first come to New Zealand when I was twelve. My parents packed my brothers and I into a plane and upon landing at Christchurch, rented a bright yellow Mazda 323 and drove us all over the country. For that reason alone, I thought my parents were the coolest old people around. They still are.

It was late afternoon when we arrived at Lake Tekapo back then. We were headed for Mount Cook when my father, who had been driving for hours, took that same fork in the road. “There’s a very nice lake here where we can stop for a while,” he said.

This ‘very nice lake’ had the most crystal clear water I had ever seen. It took my breath away. My twelve-year-old eyes had never seen such beauty- the way the sunlight reflected on the surface and how turquoise blue the water was. And beyond this lake, far away, was a row of mountains, their peaks covered in snow.

“What is this lake, Papa?” I asked.
“This is Lake Tekapo. Do you like it?”
“I love it!” I cried, my voice cracking with joy.

There was a sort of ledge nearby so I sat down after a while. I noticed a small stone house and a statue of a dog but had no idea what they were. I don’t remember how long we stayed there but it seemed like ages. A child doesn’t need to worry about time.

“We have to go,” my mum finally called. “We don’t want to reach Mount Cook too late, it can get really cold there.” And so we left.

I was still thinking of the lake when we reached Mount Cook. In our freezing motel that night, I asked my dad for his guidebook and read about the area.

I learnt that we were in a region called the Mackenzie Country, named after a sheep rustler called James Mackenzie. The statue was a tribute to the loyal sheepdogs that had helped shepherds in the area. The stone hut was the Church of the Good Shepherd and was built in 1935. And of course there was the lake itself. I saw a photo of Lake Tekapo and knew I had to go back one day.

And this was where I was headed, eighteen years later.

I had scrambled out of the bus as soon as our driver said we could get to the lake on foot. Fifteen minutes. Is that long enough? I thought, tripping over my feet.

The road towards the lake went up a slope. There were yellow and purple wildflowers growing on both sides and I stopped to pick some for my mother, who presses flowers in her books. I hurried on. It shouldn’t be too far now.

Then the road disappeared and a familiar blue hit my eyes. The surface of Lake Tekapo, which I now knew was covered with fine rock dust carved by glaciers in the Alps, sparkled in the afternoon sun. The water was as blue as I remembered it. My heart soared and suddenly I was no longer the adult who had quit her job to travel. I was twelve again.

When our bus left Queenstown that morning, I had wondered whether my memory of the lake was accurate or if my childish brain had simply been high from being on holiday. I still have the notebook I wrote all those years ago and under ‘Lake Tekapo’ was: ‘Oh wow it was really cool! The view was so beautiful!!!’ That was all I had written.

But my memory of the place had been accurate. I hadn’t been very eloquent, but maybe eloquence was unnecessary.

A familiar sound reached my ears. It was our bus rumbling up the slope.

The bus stopped by the lake for less than ten minutes, just enough time for us to pose and take photographs.

As he drove away from Lake Tekapo, our bus driver said: “Now wasn’t that lovely, ladies and gentlemen?”

Oh yes, it was.

About the AuthorAnis Ibrahim is a freelance writer from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She worked as a journalist for nine years and has a regular travel column in the New Sunday Times. Follow her on her blog, Five Feet Flat or on Twitter: @AnisIbrahim

rsz_41085_445034436472_765831472_4816738_7445814_n‘If you had only one wish, what would it be?’
I’d wish the plane wouldn’t crash.

Of course that is not my answer. Marc, the guy I met ten minutes ago, doesn’t need to know that I’m afraid of airplanes, and that I am having a panic attack as we speak.

He needs to hear about my plans to become a worldwide known writer, or maybe to meet the love of my life, or maybe about world peace and stuff like that. Yes, that’s what I should talk to him about.
‘Uhmm… I don’t know. What about you?’

He says something, but I’m not listening. I’m thinking I could have answered anything, but I didn’t. Why? Because I’m scared. I’m afraid that if I told him a wish, maybe the universe would hear it and make it happen and I’m not sure I’d like to spend my only wish that easily.
‘Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to LAX Airport. Local time is 6:15 AM and the temperature is 93 degrees Fahrenheit.’
The pilot welcomes us to Los Angeles. My heart slows down to its normal beat.
‘How much would that be in Celsius?’
’93 Fahrenheit must be around 32 to 33 Celsius.’

I’m making small talk, trying to erase the memory of me asking the stewardess for tomato juice, while Marc was talking about his dreams.

Marc is from the UK, I’m from Greece and the only thing we have in common is the fact that we both flew from Heathrow to LAX. I don’t know anything about him and he doesn’t know anything about me. I don’t even know the reason he took this trip. We just shared the experience of flying over the Atlantic Ocean for seven hours in a tin can.
*dPeople come and go, they come and go, come and go… Half of them are in a hurry, the other half looking for something. Where they’re going to pick up their luggage from, where they’re going to meet their loved ones, were the taxi rank is… Nobody is waiting for me, I‘ve already picked up my suitcase from the baggage claim, and I’m pretty sure that I will find a taxi right outside these automatic doors. In the meantime I’m enjoying a banana-strawberry smoothie and watching people as they pass me by. I open my handbag, take out a notepad I bought at Heathrow and start writing. My handwriting on every first page is always exquisite. Then you turn that page over and start wondering how my notepads turned up in the hands of a drunken doctor.
What would happen if each and every passerby had a speech bubble over their head, like the ones in comic books, conveying their dream in life? Would we help them live it, would we laugh at them, would we rule them out as potential life partners?

I’m reading what I just wrote. I will never be a writer.
I know it’s Marc, before I look up. That is because he pronounced my name wrong and also because I don’t know anyone else in this country.

‘E. Nephele.’


‘There you go.’
‘Are you waiting for someone?’
‘No, I’m just… sitting here.’

Do you want to go get some coffee or something?’
Coffee? Why would he want to have coffee with me?

d 2He’s standing right in front of me, holding his suitcase. Behind him, the automatic doors open and close, letting in the sunlight, that brings out the shape of his body. I keep looking at him and start actually seeing him. He’s tall, with brown hair and loose curls that hide his dark green eyes and a body naturally fit and not after hours at the gym. He is handsome and English, which means that every word coming out of his lips sounds like an invitation to the 18th century. Maybe coffee isn’t such a bad idea.
Half an hour later, we’re having coffee at the outdoor area of the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, where I’m going to be staying for the next ten days. I find out that Marc works at a worldwide known publishing company and spends half his time in the UK and half in the USA. I don’t know what kind of game fate is playing with me, but I’m ready for it.
‘Do you want to take a look at something and tell me what you think?’

I show him what I wrote at the airport. As he reads, I gaze at his eyes, his hands and the crooked smile starting to form on his lips. I really like him.

I lean my head back, close my eyes and let the sun shed its red light upon my darkness.
I wish to feel like this more often.

About the Author: Dafni Mathioudaki is an aspiring writer from Greece. She studied in the Hellenic Cinema and Television School Stavrakos and over the years she took many creative writing courses. She also worked as a copywriter, find her on Facebook and Twitter.