Last Saturday, I found myself in standing in a 500×500-foot puddle of water that had engulfed all my personal belongings. The night before, I witnessed a fast-moving stream of water pour into my tiny apartment through a giant hole in my wall due to my air conditioner caving in. In less than two minutes, the water began to rise, and it eventually reached 6 inches (maybe more). During my time of panic, I had to make quick decisions about what I could live with and without. It was in those two minutes that I found myself saving belongings from my travels. I shoved shoe boxes full of ticket stubs to the Uffizi and the statue of David, maps of Italy, Italian leather monogrammed with my initials, tour books from Charleston and Columbia, postcards from Rome, trinkets from Murano, Amelia Island, LA and Chicago and so many more items from my travels that had more meaning than just my “travel stuff” to higher grounds (my bed).
On Saturday morning, my entire bed told my travel stories, and I promised myself I’d put these stories in a scrapbook. These items were more than just things; they were stories. My green leather purse told the story of Lorenzo, an old Italian leather maker at the School of Leather in Florence, who taught me about Florence’s wonderful leather history. He carefully placed my initials on the purse and wrapped everything nicely in cloth bags with a personal note. He’s a character I’ll never forget! My 2-inch blue glass elephant from Murano reminded me of the colorful buildings on the Italian island and the glassblowers who took their craft so seriously and took hours to create one small animal figurine. The many coasters I’ve collected from my travels – The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville introduced me to the culture of struggling songwriters and the Lion statues that live outside the Chicago Museum of Art that my dad climbed one night while we walked around the city.
It was then that I realized one important item was missing – my passport. I frantically searched around the wet floor and suddenly found my “very important binder” full of drenched documents, all branded by the flood water. One item was completely dry and untorn, and that item was my passport. It sat so calmly in my Kate Spade passport cover as if it was shouting “I survived!”.
It was at that moment that I realized these were the only things I needed. Traveling is my life. Without a passport, a suitcase, and my travel accessories I’m not Annie. Yes, I lost my bed, my couch, shoes, clothes and thousands of dollars worth of stuff, including my apartment, but I didn’t lose my adventurous spirit. Next week I’ll be traveling to Berlin, Prague, and Munich and although my life in the States is very disorganized (I’ve been living in my boyfriend’s studio apartment with my cat and living out my car and a suitcase), there is no way I am going to miss another adventure. On to Europe!