ABOUT THE STORY
Each August, an influx of college freshmen invades the downtown streets looking for friends, alcohol access, and their life paths. Not all of them stay to become sophomores, fewer go on to call themselves juniors and seniors, and some come back to finish what they started. Having stayed in Iowa City after graduating college, I can count the benefits and drawbacks to staying here on both hands, feet, and on all of the days on my Outlook calendar that I would have preferred to call in sick. Megan Walton’s path to career success and happiness isn’t as direct—nor is it domestic. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme [sic] gave a backdrop to her early twenties and launched a “career” of travel in search of a career in travel. Possibilities seem to have an end after one graduates, but Megan has proved that one possibility leads to another leads to another, and that only life itself has an end. Now Megan works for Royal Caribbean International as an Adventure Ocean Youth Staff member, entertaining and educating the children on board.
I write this from the top bunk of my cabin on Deck 1 of a Royal Caribbean International cruise ship, with the sun reflecting off of the ocean and through my porthole. I love my porthole. Four years ago, I graduated from Iowa, a Psych major on my way to Japan. For three years I taught English and traveled. While my friends carried on with master’s degrees and real jobs, first homes and marriages, I wrote blogs about school lunch and office politics. And of course, I took photos.
St. Patrick’s Day | Often in Japan, the situation would become so unbelievably random that I found myself stopping, stepping outside of the situation for a moment and allowing myself to fully appreciate the absurdity of it all. The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Tokyo was one of those times.
Angels for a Moment | To get past the “guest” hurdle can take years. I was fortunate to become family quickly. We explained to the children that I was going home to the states and I’d see them in a while. Kesuke, at three, didn’t quite understand. “It’s ok, I can drive to see Megan,” he said to his mother.
New Earrings | We stayed on a tiny little beach in Thailand for a few weeks in the summer. As the time progressed we became friends with the local boys who reminded me of the boys back when I lived in Iowa City—the artists who always made me laugh, the musicians who always entertained.
Mount Fuji | We started climbing around 8 p.m. It should have taken about five hours. It took me at least eight. Climbing Mount Fuji is an endurance test, much like living in Japan. Once you start, the only way to finish is to keep going. You can’t turn back and go the other way.
Prague Square | I was only in Prague for a few days—a weekend trip from England. As we walked through large, magnificent squares, teeming with people, I thought of the Ped Mall. Perhaps not so grand and not so crowded but nevertheless important. It’s all about community, and when I go back to Iowa City, it’s one of the first places I go.
Life Boat | How normal is it to have boat drills three times each week? For me, very. Some people do ship life for years. I don’t know how long I’ll last. I like waking up in a different port everyday, but I also think I might be ready to find a more permanent home after all of these wanderings. No matter what I decide, my passport will always be close and current!