The world awaits.
I didn't really begin traveling until 1992. Shockingly, my first time on a plane was in that year when I was 19 years old...to Italy. Being a Florida native, all of my previous trips had been done in a car mainly around the southeastern United States. I never thought I'd become a well-traveled person, but now — more than 20 years later — I have seen many incredible places all over this world and I am eternally grateful for the experiences.
If I start with the United States, I've had the fortune of visiting a large portion of the country, for both personal and professional reasons. I've been to most major cities and have lived in three of them: Orlando, Dallas, and Atlanta. From 1992 through 2011 I managed to tick many large-city travel destinations off the list, including Tampa, Miami, Charlotte, Nashville, Washington DC, New York City, Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis, Houston, Austin, Denver, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Portland, and Seattle. I fell so in love with the Pacific Northwest that at one stage I seriously considered moving there. But alas, destiny had other plans.
This culminated in a life-changing experience in 2011, when I relocated to London in the United Kingdom. Needless to say this was a massive personal undertaking. Exciting, daunting, scary, and fantastic, the move was one of, if not the most, thrilling experience in my lifetime. As time has carried on, I now feel like the UK and the US are both sort of “home” to me. It's a very strange feeling, defining this sense of what "home" means. So much so that at times I have even felt stateless — not really knowing where I belong — as I feel I identify with the values of the two cultures equally and independently, and yet also feel disconnected from each at the same time (especially in the current repulsive Brexit / Trump / nationalist world climate). In early 2015, I explored these feelings through music and created a Back to Mine journey called Stateless:
This unsettled feeling of statelessness has partially subsided now that I have found and fell in love with Luis. I feel at home wherever he is; and although I miss family and friends dearly in the US, I’m very happy building my married life with him in London.
Luis and I have recently discussed buying property in (and perhaps eventually moving to) Portugal. Luis is half-Portuguese and has great memories of being on the lakes in central Portugal. We both love warm weather and water, and as the world continues to deteriorate in terms of politics, we have a desire to escape the madness and live remotely. It’s a long-term plan, but one we’re seriously considering pursuing.
A bit of Britain.
I love living in London. The city feels like it was made for me and my ideals: the city's #LondonIsOpen campaign resonates with my view on this world. London is a vibrant, liberal, multicultural, world-class city, and of course has an incredible history. I definitely feel connected to the UK and all that it has to offer, and have enjoyed learning about and immersing in its extensive culture. The weather, despite being overcast for a good portion of the year, is actually pleasantly cool most of the time which is a welcomed change from the heat I'm accustomed to from previously living in the southeastern United States. During my time in the UK, I've had the opportunity to visit pretty much every major city: Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leeds, Reading, Exeter, Plymouth, Southhampton, Bristol, Belfast, Newcastle, Liverpool, and Cardiff; and several other gems like Bath, York, the Lake District, and the Isle of Skye. Sometimes I wish I had a car again so I could drive more of the country and wander through its rural roads and quaint historic villages. It's such a wonderful country to explore. And there are other things I love about the UK as well:
Music: I've been infatuated by British music all of my life. It really all began with my youthful obsession with Duran Duran, and that of course evolved into a passion for so many other UK artists, many of which are listed on the lower portion of my front page. British music has dominated so much of pop culture and history, and it's incredible to be living in the country where it all comes from.
Pub culture: It's a distinctively British way to socialise — to grab a pint at your local pub and catch up with friends. There's something very communal and comforting about this social norm, and it's so great to know that in literally every city and village across the UK there is a local pub that you can just walk to and enjoy. Sure you can go (and almost always drive) to a bar in the US and do the same thing, but it's not really the same. Especially since the bars in the US don't regularly serve fish and chips.
Multiculturalism: Given the size and scope of the once dominant British Empire, it's no surprise that multiculturalism can be found anywhere in the UK. I love that when I walk around London or even travel outside the city, I can hear languages from so many different countries and see people from different cultural backgrounds. Even I fall into that category now, given that I'm an American expat. As long as people from other cultures are in the UK to be productive and contribute to society, I firmly welcome the diversity it brings. It's also inspiring to see that London elected a progressive Muslim mayor in 2016, something that I believe would be impossible to do in the US these days.
Language: One of the most entertaining facets of UK daily life is the constant reminder of the differences in British English versus American English. Not only is this prevalent in the spelling of words — of which I'm sure you've noticed by reading this site — but also word choice. There are too many examples to list, but some that come to mind are: whilst, maths, alight, boot, lift, flat, malarkey, rubbish, bespoke, fortnight, bloody, ace, quid, lad, bloke, chap, mobile, and loo, to name a few. What's even more interesting is the sheer number of English dialects in this country, especially given the overall fairly small size of the British Isles. The history of it all is certainly worth a read, if you find that kind of information interesting.
Beyond the UK and the US, I've had the fortune to visit other fantastic countries and have had extraordinary experiences in different cultures. To date, I've traveled to Canada, New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Greece (here and here), Iceland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and its island of Mallorca, Sweden, Ireland, Denmark, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, China, and Mexico. I feel so blessed to have seen so much of the world, and I'm sure my travels will continue. It's exciting to explore new places and see different things and I would strongly encourage anyone who has not travelled to get out there and see the world.
At one stage, I was frequently blogging about my move and UK endeavours via the blogging site Posterous, but alas that website has since shut down. I would say that now the best way to enjoy entertaining anecdotes, posts, and snapshots of my life are through my various social media feeds, where my screen name is remarkcentral. Feel free to ask any other questions about my world travels or relocation by emailing me.