Random Observation/Comment #142: I wondered when the idea of my six-month absence would sink into my parents’ minds. It happened over the weekend at 9AM when I hadn’t slept a wink yet. I can imagine why they wouldn’t want me to go, but I never thought they would worry to the extent of losing sleep. I couldn’t help but wince when they didn’t trust my decision-making skills, but I calmed, knowing that they meant anything could happen in the dangerous world. I tried to give reassurance of my planning and my background knowledge of the country, but there is only so much that could be expected. I guess it’s not that they don’t trust me – it’s more like they don’t trust everyone else around me. The world is a scary place, but if you say I can’t face it or experience it, how do I learn about it? If you say there are things I can’t read about or see without actually being there, then what am I supposed to do?
I officially started my traveling in Japan – a place I consider safe and filled with unbelievably friendly people. The high-strung personalities within the well-structured Japanese society showed me a world filled with boundaries. Every person in Japan was inside their individual bubbles; bored out of their mind and scared to step outside of their limits. The culture became my parent’s closest friend. They felt safe knowing that I had a place to stay and a passive, and even paranoid, crowd. For the most part, my size intimidated most Japanese people and I think they would be more afraid of an American traveler mugging them, than any reverse situation.
Europe, on the other hand, does not belong to some haiku-reading Hello Kitty world. To my parents, it’s a dark cube of unknown danger at every corner (that’s like eight corners of doom). European news and horror stories have scared them into believing that evil triumphs good intentions. Are the tourist attraction major cities in Europe really much more dangerous than New York City? I think, like every city in the world, there are slum sections and upscale areas. The robbery stereotypes seem to be generalized to the entire city when most places are relatively safe at the right time of day.
I don’t intend to roam the “Harlem’s” of Germany, France, Czech Republic, Netherlands, or Switzerland. I don’t intend to drink until 7AM and sleep on park benches, neither. I know the cities I will be visiting and I’ve used technology to its fullest extent to keep myself from getting lost. My resources have been exhausted and my senses will be on alert. There is nothing more I can do to prepare myself for this journey.
As a general guideline, it is much safer to travel in a group; however, my lonesome travels should not bring any level of insecurity. I will act responsibly and follow all of the traveling guidelines I followed in Japan. For some reason, it seems like my parents think I will act completely opposite from my compulsive mannerisms. Why would I act differently when I’m compulsive about planning and safety? Don’t you think getting killed or stranded would put a damper on my trip? Do you think I want to even welcome the smallest possibility of dying?
Every time this topic of conversation begins, I feel my eye twitching and my mood sullen. I’m always hearing the same advice, but worded a little differently so my parents can hear it said differently. I can’t promise that I will be alright, but I can promise that I will be smart about my actions. The danger does exist in my mind and I am more than aware this could be a nightmare. I am scared, but I’d like to reassure them that everything I can do; I have done.
~See Lemons Think Safely