Growing up in the city never led me to believe that one day I would be a tree loving, Jeep riding, mountain dweller. But that’s bullshit. I knew on some level that I belonged in the wild. I can remember sitting in my grandparent’s backyard in the outskirts of Chicago, digging up rocks and dirt with a shovel and a toothbrush, thinking I had hit the archaeological jackpot. If I wasn’t outside, I pretended I was.
Thanks to books, my appreciation of literature beyond my years, and being an avid reader growing up, my imagination took me to places I could only dream of. Between the enchanted forests of J.R.R. Tolkien and the wavering seas of Sir Hemingway, I always imagined a place other than where my mud covered Vans usually stood. Most of my childhood involved a hot pink and turquoise Huffy, taking on shaded Prairie Path trails, searching for solitude in nearby woods.
If I have anyone to thank for my sense of wanderlust, it would be my grandmother. Mother to 8 children, she was a loving housewife, who made a killer Sunday gravy and would rock Jimi Hendrix while chopping onions, with curlers in her hair. Don’t get me wrong though, she wasn’t just a typical housewife or mom. She was an adventurer, and a pioneer. She would strap me in the car and just drive, with no destination in mind. Some of my best memories involve me and her just cruisin’ with the windows down, singing along to whatever tape was in the deck. Even though she loved her life, she always wanted more. She wanted to travel, to see the world, and experience new things. The only problem was my less than willing grandfather, who was a homebody and liked it that way. They were the definition of “opposites attract.” However, my grandmother never lost her sense of wanderlust and managed to travel quite a bit throughout her life. Up until her final days, she talked of her drives from the California coast and seeing the Rocky Mountains and the roaring rapids. She would reminisce about the white beaches of Acapulco, Mexico and the rolling green hills of Ireland. She always encouraged me to chase my dreams, and to never settle for things in life that don’t satisfy my soul.
It took me 6 months after she died, to pack up my small life in the cornfields of Illinois, put them on a Budget truck and move across the country. I had one destination in mind; Colorado. The first time I ever laid eyes on the lush green furs, and the snow capped peaks, I suddenly knew my life’s purpose. Okay, maybe I didn’t know my life’s purpose exactly, but I knew the mountains belonged in my life. And from that point on, it’s been an addiction, and a necessity in my life. Chasing the unknown, and heading in an unfamiliar direction, however thrilling it is, it is also equally challenging. You have to prepare yourself for failure, success, and the ability to manage both. Chasing your dreams isn’t cliché when it actually happens to you. There’s a specific moment when you can look around and feel accomplished for the life that you had worked so damn hard for. Wanderlust to some may be fantasy, unrealistic, and unimportant; but I would have to disagree. Wanderlust pushes people to experience new cultures, new situations, and gives life to once forgotten dreams. It makes us feel like kids again, and gives a new meaning to everyday life. Life is short, and if anything else, it is certain to end.
As much as I admire my grandmother, I strive everyday to not make the same mistakes she did. I do not want to be 83 years old, with a list of regrets, asking myself “what if?’ That’s why I took the leap, signed the new lease, and bid my home state farewell. Your life was meant to be lived for you, and not anyone else. Chase the far-fetched dreams, buy the plane ticket, and get in your car and just drive. Wherever it is you want to go, whatever it is you want to do, just do it. You get one life. Make sure it’s one your grandmother would be proud of.
This blog was written by Mountain Chicks Colorado ambassador Sarah. Thank you for reading! Don't forget to grab your Mountain Chicks gear down below!