Sometimes my mind wanders back to the haze of that careless week in the Caribbean. Floating through the hotel pool (my pink visor, my white tiger bathing suit). Throwing breakfast’s crumbs from the balcony to the birds in the bushes below. Posing near a hibiscus as big as my head. I spent part of my time with a vacationing Brit at the same hotel, and part of it with a local boy. I don’t quite remember either of their names, but the Brit spent most of his days in his underwear (the pictures are starting to fade, with curled-up edges, but they still make me smile).
Memories can be a trip of their own, especially first memories. My first memory was a travel memory — I was about 2 1/2 when my parents took me to Barbados.
Because I was an only child, my younger years were well documented. Paging through the photo albums, my memory has certainly been jogged (the school events, the neon bows). But from the best that I can judge, the clips that come to me from Barbados are the real thing, not a rendering. Surprisingly, my near-drowning experience in the hotel pool left less of an impression than the sweet, melting consolation of the Haagen-Dazs ice cream bar I was offered afterward. The only other sense I connect to this first international (and conscious) experience is the sound of steel drums. I can’t hear that light distinctive chime without being carried back. For many, it’s a call back to the tropical, the paradisiacal, the exotic; and for me, they are all of that melded with my first mysterious impressions of this earth.
I’m sure it wasn’t my parents’ overarching plan to instill a lifelong wanderlust in me from 31 months, but it’s them I have to thank for exposing me to the world from such a young age, and continuing to support that plunge into the unknown. Whether the unknown is life or a new country, for me it all seems to meet at the same place in my memories.
What was your first travel memory? Don’t feel the need to stretch back to diapers! Crammed inside a hot car on a family road trip? Flying for a school competition? Shake up those reminiscences and share them in the comments below.
— written by Brittany Chrusciel