As we ring in the new year, many resolutions come to light. A common one is “travel more”. What does this entail, exactly? My guess is a fantasy of exotic vacations across the globe, going to places you’ve never seen, surrounded by people you’ve never met speaking a language you don’t know. While that’s an exciting concept, that kind of travel isn’t realistic. Nobody has a spare few-thousand dollars to spend on a vacation, let alone leaving behind all your work, school, or parental responsibilities on hold for months on end. While vacations are nice when you do take them, the constriction of not being able to travel often shouldn’t stop you from considering yourself well-traveled.
The thing people do not realize is that you don’t need to leave your own time zone to become well-traveled. There’s a whole world waiting right in your own town that I’m betting you’ve never tapped into. Sure, you could argue that you know your way around this town if you’re a local. But, I’m willing to bet you’ve never explored these landmarks that, when put together, provide the composition for our little coastal town. I know you can tell me how to get to the bakery nestled between the Spice Club and Grace, but have you ever gone in there?
Being well-traveled is about venturing somewhere you’ve never been, meeting people you don’t know, and leaving with an understanding about life you didn’t have before. This can be achieved in the confines of our town. All it takes is going into that little shop you always see and taking in the sights. Striking up a conversation with the owner not only allows you to meet a stranger, but you may learn something in the process. While choosing to explore a boutique housed quietly in a small building on Main Street, I struck up an unexpected conversation with a summer tourist. My mind is hard-wired at this point to despise “summer people” and the traffic, crowds, and inconveniences they bring along with them in the sunny season. However, this short conversation changed my mind. I learned how much joy this small town brings to other people, and how summer tourism helps the local economy, especially homegrown shops downtown.
Though I only went 10 minutes down the road, I became more traveled in my town. After all, seeing as we spend the majority of our time in our towns and not in Italy or Brazil, shouldn’t we become more traveled in being an East Lyme local? Knowing the nooks and crannies of every shop and restaurant in this town can make you a more diligent citizen, more mindful of those you share your home with, and may lead you to appreciate this place more than you thought possible. So, East Lyme, instead of spending hours praying to win the lottery so you can live out an exotic dream, get to know your own town a little better.