As a child, my siblings and I, along with the neighbor kids, would all play a game we called “Adventure.” I promise, it’s way more inventive than the title.
The general premise of this game was that we all started as friends (just wait), casually hanging out until suddenly, any and all of the most ridiculous things that could happen to us did: Earthquakes. Witches on brooms. Dinosaur attacks. Evil villians. Holes in the ground leading to magical worlds where we could fly and talk to animals…Hey, I never said these were realistic things that could happen or that the game was called “Real Life.”
Sometimes we were in the same world, but most of the time, we each wanted to create our own fantasies to live in. And as kids do, we made sure to call out loud each thing as it “happened to us.” This way everyone else knew we were fighting imaginary goblins on top of a castle with fiery lava down below that we couldn’t touch or else we would die instantly.
Now fast forward 20 years and “adventure” is buying a one-way ticket with no visa and only vague plans of a job. Adventure is moving to a new city where you don’t speak the language. It’s taking long bus or train rides alone, planning to read, listen to music or write in a journal. Instead, you end up making a new best friend. It’s backwoods camping. Skydiving. Getting lost and finding a new way. Scuba-diving. Learning underwater basket weaving. Getting a tattoo as a travel keepsake!
But despite having more of these type of grown up adventures, I still yearn for the magical beings and make-believe stories. I romanticise my plans and ideas of what could be. I expect to see fairies flying around when I spot a solitary, white horse in a field at sunset. I want princesses and knights in shining armour when I visit ancient castles.
Once, while taking a kayak trip through some water grottos (caves) in Portugal, my inner child nearly cried of excitement when we found a message in a bottle.
Photo Courtesy of Caitlin Max
Those really exist?? Is this real life? I was amazed and excited and intrigued. An empty, corked wine bottle with a rolled up paper inside just floating right through our tour group! Sadly, it ended up being just scribbles or some foreign language no one could figure out (jokes were made about it perhaps being the wifi password), but still, it made my day and for a great story back at the hostel.
Maybe I’ve just read too many fantasy books: I’ve definitely been ruined by Disney movies.
But I’ve realized that in many ways I am still the same child running around my backyard calling things out so it can be real. There have been so many times in my travels that I’m in complete disbelief that what’s happening is actually happening; it seems too good to be true and I need to shout it out to the world just in case (hellooo Facebook). And as much as I want to see a unicorn, I will take my non-message in a bottle as win and continue on until my next “Real Life” adventure happens.