I miss traveling. And I miss my pennies. Let me explain.
One of my earliest and happiest memories was on a lengthy plane ride to Hong Kong to see my grandparents who I only met for the first time when I was close to 10-years-old. There was something exhilarating about all of us crammed in an airplane, the little rectangle trays of airplane food, the sound of the wheeled carts giving off a lilting clatter holding juice and bottles of wine, and the endless movies and need to move up and down the narrow aisles. There was something magical about taking off in one place and ending up in a completely different and exotic place hours later. Hong Kong always held a special place for me because it was the very first place internationally that I traveled alone.
I hold on to memories of my first cruise with my sister. A floating hotel, it was called. Sis and I did not do so well with the motion sickness and drank so much ginger ale and relied religiously on anti-motion sickness bands with pressure points gripped on to our wrists. However, watching movies under a starlit sky, swimming with the limitless sky above, and gorging on creamy chocolate pudding made up for any ill feeling that my body was subjected to.
I relive in my mind long road trips that began when I was 10-years-old to Canada with my dad and sister. I sang to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey blasting in my ear drums from my Walkman. I thrived on greasy foods of burgers, fries, and milkshakes with endless land before my eyes.
Travel traditions began in my late 20’s and 30’s. Every two years, meet with my dear friend in Spain in some destination in the world for us to gallivant and explore together. Every two years, Transplant Games of America in a mysterious majestic USA state that I only had the chance to see and experience and swim in a glorious swimming pool thanks to my organ donor and organ donor families. A yearly trip with my sister. Anywhere in the world. The world was vast and open and ready for me to embrace and taste every sight and sound. And, whenever I landed in my destination, the ONLY souvenir gift that I wished for and searched for when I was on my travels, was to find a penny machine. I popped in the cents that no one really cared much about and wound the crank until my copper zinc Abraham Lincoln one cent coupled with quarters was crushed to create a mere image that was reminiscent of that particular travel.
I bought my Penny Passport book only a couple years ago, but it has already filled with 22 pennies of my travels in Japan and New Mexico, Utah, Georgia, Washington, California, and Pennsylvania states. Every penny has a tiny sleeved home in my Penny Passport book. Every penny brings back a memory of who I was with, what I was doing, the sights, and sounds, and anything that really means everything to me. I’ve been looking through my Penny Passport book and every single penny longingly and lovingly with the wanderlust emerging and hoping for the days that I can travel again. I am struck that no one has cared or given much thought to a mere Penny, but out of all the cents in our USA currency, the Penny has meant the most to me. I want the pennies that are only 1 single cent, but hold all the more priceless for me when I find a Penny Machine to make a memory and momento for me. My love for these pennies as souvenirs is so great that when people travel, they will try to find a Penny Machine for me to make a memory and momento of their own to give to me and to share with me. How incredible and priceless of a gift is that? When did you experience something that seems of little value only to be the most priceless?
I miss getting away. I miss change of scenery beyond the walls of my apartment and pace that exists in an unknown place that beckons for me to know it. On the flip and strange side, I find myself surprised that I have also discovered and learned more about myself and others on my sedentary travels and explorations at home, close by towns, and neighborhoods near me. I’ve fallen in love with the riverfronts, discovered community in homes and houses and apartments here, and explored the tiny shops and restaurants making me see the importance of community and that there is that fine balance of discovering about oneself at home and elsewhere. It is now a luxury to travel outside of the walls of our home. I treasure my passport that contains stamps of my destinations, travels, memories, and moments, but I treasure my “Penny Passport” even more. It is a scary world out there. But, it is also so incredibly wondrous and wonderful that I crave to see again.
Every penny that seems so little value has been priceless for me in my travels. Are there certain souvenirs or momentos that you seek out when you travel to bring back certain memories when you are back home? Where is the last place that you traveled to before this all started? What travel plans have you had to cancel? Where is the first place you want to travel to and land in when time permits again? Do you care at all for pennies at all right here in your home or elsewhere?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,