Maria Argyropoulos: BootsnAll Author: Why Am I Doing This? – Diary of a Single Girl

Why I’m Traveling ‘Round the World

I’ve been talking about doing this round-the-world adventure forever. My inspiration was my Aunt Evy, who took off at age 26 for Australia at a time when most people assumed the world stopped at Africa.

She traveled to the world down under and sent me the first in what would become a five-year habit of giving me dolls in native dress from each country she visited. The first was an aboriginal, which became the talk of my second grade show-and-tell. My red-clothed warrior with his spear, shield and curious brown and red design on his chest sparked a flame to visit this strange land of half-naked painted men (hey, I was 7!). But now half-naked men have a whole nother appeal…

Another memory of my aunt is when she burst through customs at JFK airport, tan as dark leather and wearing a fringe suede jacket and a Spanish dancer’s hat with little cloth balls dangling off the brim. She was so hip and happenin’ (it was the 70s) and happy; I wanted to be just as carefree as her.

But for years I let life get in the way of this adventure. Though my family lived the European lifestyle of a six-week vacation each summer (ask me ANYTHING about Florida), once I hit the ‘real’ world, it became career and boyfriend and money.

Well, I finally hit a career high as a VP, had some money in the bank and realized the boyfriend wasn’t really who I was supposed to spend eternity with… but two things put me over the edge.

First, my aunt � the world traveler � had a failed kidney transplant that led to a series of near-death experiences, long hospital stays, total dependence on dialysis and, of course, the dramatic alteration of her day-to-day, and future, life.

The second was an email from an ex-boyfriend, telling me how all the things we had discussed together were finally coming true for him. Every dream he ever had was now at his fingertips�

That’s when I finally realized, that while I had a great life, the perfect job, loving friends, and a comfy paycheck, my life was a series of happy accidents � things that had happened to me, but I still hadn’t done the thing I dreamed of.

So, I decided to live my dream and told my mom and brother of my plan. That was two years ago.

Mom finally got done freaking out, my wonderful company gave me a year off, and I sold my condo. On April 25, 2001, I hauled my bulging backpack on my shoulders, stuffed my ’round-the-world ticket in my money belt, kissed my mom goodbye, wondered one more time if I was nuts to give up my entire life for this � and headed out.

It’s now late September 2001, and I don’t wonder anymore about that. Now I wonder if I’m ever going home.

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