Best Friends with a Wanderluster

I happen to be blessed with incredible friends who somehow deal with my constant need to leave them to go to see the world. This is a letter to me (and you) from my best friend, Jamie, who out of the blue decided to write this very special guest post for this blog. This is her story of being best friends with a traveler.

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While Emily’s blog is dedicated to the wonder, triumphs and woes of traveling, this post is intended to tell the other story, the best friend’s story. Just as much as Emily has an itch to travel, she is a homebody as well. She suffers from a disease that her father lovingly refers to as FOMO (fear of missing out) and experiences FOMO in nearly everything—good meals, a night out, even a funny story. (Side Note: every weekend, hundreds of people suffer from FOMO. There is no known cure). I know that Emily’s recent decision to travel for a year was thought out and not an easy one to make.

Emily and I met the first day of sixth grade and shortly after became inseparable. Our friendship expands a decade and a half; in that time, I have known Emily in many different phases in her life. In high school there was hipster-Emily (before “hipster” was a thing or “cool”), after college there was Miss Emily (saving the world, one student at a time), power-bitch Emily (stomping through the business world one stiletto shoe at a time- this one is yet to come) and of course wanderlust-Emily, whom—as it seems from her blog—has a thirst for travel and adventure once again. Throughout the many sides and adventures, there has always been my best friend Em. This is the back story, the untold story, of how to be best friends with a traveler.

 

We have had the same core group of friends since we were in middle school. So far as a group we have stood up in one wedding, celebrated four college graduations, one law school graduation, ahd one master’s graduation; we have been through parents’ cancer scares, two family divorces, multiple grandparents’ funerals and the heartbreak of a broken engagement; and all the small celebrations and tragedies in between that comprise a best friend group. We have always had a unique friendship. To our other friends’ dismay (and annoyance) Emily and I finish each other’s sentences and often have the same reaction at the same exact time. We plan our outfits before a night out, mostly so we won’t show up in the same shirt. Emily is the kind of friend that supports every crazy dream, is down for anything if you put the word “adventure” after it, and even let me borrow/ keep some pieces of her hair extensions because the color magically matched both of our hair—gross I know, we also did this with a pair of jeans back when “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” was popular.

 

We’ve vacationed with each other’s families, attended important family events and holidays, and have received multiple lectures from the other’s parents. To this day, Emily still gets mad when my brother doesn’t introduce her to his friends as his “other sister”. In high school, I would often come home from my after school job to see that distinguishable baby-blue jeep in my driveway. I would walk into my house and Emily, who had been hanging out with my parents all afternoon, would cheerfully say, “Hi, I am staying for dinner.” Her company was always welcome.

 

She began traveling one summer when we were in high school. Her first “solo” travel (it was with a group, but she didn’t know anyone) was to Hungary when she was 16, where her luggage was lost for almost a week and she made new friends by asking to borrow their underwear. I wasn’t sure I saw the appeal. Back then, what mattered to me was passing my driver’s license and securing an invite to the senior boys’ parties. But when Emily returned that summer, she had her luggage, many new friends, and a new sense of wanderlust. Her travels, even at a young age, far outweigh my own, even to date. With every new country, new journey, new experience, she’s gained confidence and a love for travel.

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Jamie and Emily in Punta Del Este

Emily continued to spend most summers abroad. I would anticipate her arrivals home with some trepidation, I must admit. I feared that these new adventures would separate her from me and my boring-suburban experiences. She would arrive home and almost immediately come to my house. She would bring presents (that helped) and many, many stories. And as we poured through her pictures and went through each person and every place one at a time, Emily would say, “You would have loved this” or “I wish you were here when I did this.” I never felt left out. Emily’s passion for travel is inspiring. She looks forward to sharing her new experiences with the ones that she loves.

One of the many beautiful things about Emily is her big heart. She loves to love and share that love. Whether it is new music (“You have to listen to this new band. I am totally obsessed”), her family (giving up a weekend in the city to spend time with her toddler-twin half siblings so her Dad could rest easy), her friends (telling me that she misses me and that we needed a “date night” because we have only seen each other once that week), her boyfriend (taking more risks and chances in this relationship then in any foreign country), her work (giving up time, energy, and a high salary to make a difference in education) or of course travel (writing a blog to inspire travelers and non-travelers alike). She expresses passion and contagious excitement in almost everything that she does.

Incidentally, many of my more impressionable stories include Emily. After four-years of high school suburban adventures and growing pains, we embarked on the next big chapter of our lives—college. I cannot remember if we ever discussed our decision attend the same college. There was a few months senior year that Emily debated about going to college in Canada (not surprising). But ultimately, it was the familiarity of Madison, Wisconsin that drew us both to the University. After all, we had been visiting Emily’s cousins and friends there since we were old enough to drive (and our parents let us cross state lines).

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Our bestie visit UW (her name shall be kept a secret as she is a famous lawyer).

Going to college with your very best friend was a great experience for us. We did not suffer the typical anxieties of leaving home for the first time. Making new friends and navigating our way around a new place seemed easy, mostly because we had each other. We created a new home. Together, we really came to love and cherish Madison.

One of our first (and few) fights, was before our Junior year after Emily told me that she was moving to Buenos Aires, breaking our lease for the following year, and starting a new adventure without me. Of course, I was devastated and frankly, pissed. However, our separation that year proved to be important for both of us. That was the year that I fell for my first love, found comfort in other friendships, and experienced my own abroad travel (including visiting Emily). Outside the safety of my friendship with Emily, I learned a lot about myself and Emily did too.

 

While this time, I am certainly not pissed, I am sad to see Emily go for another year. It will be difficult not to have her in my “everyday” as Em and I call it. However, I also know Emily’s opportunities to travel for long stretches like this become rarer and rarer. I know she will come home telling stories of her great adventures and wishing I was there. I know that she will tell some (not all) of these stories to her children and grandchild and hopefully, bestow the travel itch in them too. I know that I have a loving and wonderful boyfriend that will hold the place of my best friend while she is away. Most of all, I know that Emily and I will be fine. It is with love and sadness that I wish Emily well as she goes on her way.

Emmy, I love you and I am so proud of you. Now here are some words just for you.

 

Words of Wisdom-ish:

1. Go!

2. But come home again.

3. Be safe and smart (I sound like my mother).

4. Don’t take risks just for the story (see number 3); instead, be open and the stories will come to you.

5. Be my maid of honor and also throw me a killer bachelorette party

6. Live every day without fear and with the expectation that your next adventure is around the corner.

7. Eat everything (Seriously, plus poop stories are the funniest ones anyway).

8. Fall in love with cities and places (not boys).

9. Plan some great travels for our “single”-moon

10. Live every day with a big heart, open mind, and wanderlust.

 Love Always,                           

J

 

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I'm Emily - a twenty-something female travel-enthusiast - here to serve and inspire you. Need help planning your next trip? Email me at emily [at] letsroamwild [dot] com and tag your own travel pics to share with the world @letsroamwild.

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