Connections, Burning Bridges and Pretending There Are Other Ways (Written April 26th 2013)

I've compiled a list of very important things one must have for this trip. My list includes  simple things like traveling sheets, sunscreen and prescriptions. I knew all along the most important thing I needed was a ticket up and out of the states. However, I didn't really have any money to buy one. I was also quite nervous about not getting my passport in time or having some strange incident where I had to legally stay here. Even when I got my passport quite early I had to await the return of my birth certificate. I'd actually just gotten that by traveling with my friend to New Jersey. I imagined it being lost in the system or something. However, it soon followed. Actually only then did money grow on trees and fall from the sky. So one would think I had everything to complete my list and move forward on my journey. There was one thing missing and it is called connection. In many facets of life one must have strong and valid connections. Sadly, I started out with little integrity in maintaining them.

I have family and friends that I barely stay in contact with. My mother raised me in this challenging extended family dynamic. My siblings are all twenty years older than me, my fathers side is all displaced and her side is just dysfunctional. I guess around fourteen I took a leap and said being close was a waste of effort. My friends are far and few. My academic and professional contacts were never really earned. I could easily say most were forced due to my "sensitivity" in the classroom and workplace. The only standard for me is keeping every single number I acquire and the ability to recall things like a waitress. So if I met you ten years ago and your number hasn't changed; I can reach you. If we meet in passing I can tell a vivid story about us or mention your spouses birthday. So I found myself avoiding family and friends. I simply made light of my limited abilities/access because of ulterior motives or just to be nosey.

The last time I grossly overused the access was over ten years ago. I was 17 years old with an acceptance letter from a private, out of state and very expensive college. My mother was never really supportive in the initial search let alone actually attending. My friends were a heavy mix of drop outs, dreamers and mothers. I was also the first of four to actually want to go to school. I had a lot on my shoulders and pretty much no help or advice. So I decided to contact everyone that I didn't talk to to help me out. I don't want to say I was fueled by greed (I think back with that in mind) because at that age it was more or less innocent fishing. I was hoping for any advice someone could give and if they included a few bucks it would all help. I called who I could and sent personalized announcement cards to the rest. Surprisingly I didn't get much advice but I got money - a lot of money. It wasn't always cash but it was gift certificates, gift cards, discounts, coupons and even gifts of things I really needed. At that time, all I saw was fulfillment but didn't take it as an opportunity to connect. The flood gates opened and I simply closed them. Dropping out of school a few months later didn't really help either. So once again I was in hiding from the people whom I reached out to. I then made myself purposely unreachable. I was very crude back then and I regret it. Maybe if I had been accepting of communication versus the compensation I may have had an actual support system to keep me in school. One could say I forfeit that when I didn't even send thank you cards. 

Years, years and many near death experiences later I'm more open to rebuilding bridges. I'm also not pretending there is some other way around it. In fact, I'm more apt to admitting I burnt it and I'm willing to throw in 60% to rebuild if the feeling is mutual. At that time, I was a child; my maturity level needed experience, positive & negative, to grow. I also could have never been totally responsible for my family. I believe whole heartedly adults need to foster that connection and if they fail to they should take the initiative. In my case, my mother still keeps me from the people I ought to know. So I make it my business to re-connect and explain that she was responsible up until a point and now it is my goal to be available as a member of the family. I've taken my Gemini social skills to another level by really exposing myself to all sorts of people. I've found that it is much easier to lend myself to others and allow them to reach me to return the favor. I am a stickler for birthday cards and anniversary gifts. I reward good friends and acquaintances with not only my time but a genuine goal to please them in the same nature they've done me. So I find it okay to make lists and rely upon connections to strike things off of it. Friends and family are the sole sponsors for this trip. When contacted they are obliged because I have been open and dutiful. The bridges between us are now strong and interconnected. Sometimes it isn't about asking or hoping - it is about being there and getting recognition. I am here and there is no alternative for that. So when I asked for their blessing most if not all gave me a word of advice, a contact to be reached or an immeasurable gift that I will repay - ten fold.

So yeah, I was given some gadgets in a raffle a few days before I quit - they sold in two days on eBay. Also weeks before I left I acquired a few new contacts and learned some new things about old ones. My best customer resided in France less than 5 years ago. My other close customer said I should create a blog about my travels. Another customer just moved from Italy to start a business and revealed he used to work in tourism. Then I met a French teacher who offered to help with the paperwork from the consulate. I went to a party where I conversed with an avid backpacker and a group just in from Paris. I also met a book collector who wanted to appraise my collection and possibly take some off my hands. Grandma spotted me $2k on the fly before I asked thanks to moms good word. That money allowed me to get a storage unit, get ready for a massive yard sale and pay for my airline tickets. I also had some JetBlue credit to use for a last minute trip to meet my friend before she leaves to London. If I play my cards right we'll stay at Grandma's and I can see her off the day of her flight. My old landlady has a travel business and she saved me save over $300+ on my ticket to London and there are no taxes or fees. In return, I will help her daughter who was recently accepted to medical school...

Ten Fold. Eye for an Eye. Connections. Friends. Family. Fuel. Fire.

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