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Jonathan and I travel because we want to see the whole world together, but we have our individual interests, too. He wants to climb every mountain. I want to see all the people.

The farther I go, the more people I see and meet, the more convinced I am that everyone on earth shares a commonality of soul. Language and religion and skin pigment and eye shape are merely the reasons we use to bicker and go to war. But behind it all is a beating heart, a mind, the same basic survival needs. We want to live well, and we want to be allowed to define "living well" for ourselves.

Travel is an education more than anything else. It is humbling to find yourself unable to communicate because you don't know the language. It is an exercise in resourcefulness to navigate the crooked, careening streets of foreign cities without a smart phone. New territory under your feet means a new perspective on the rest of the world, a vantage point from a corner you may not have considered before.

The lessons you learn are not easily forgotten, especially if you find that seeing new places does something for your self esteem. Everything about travel requires patience.

You'll have to find your way through the labyrinth of Geneva International Airport, forced to exit the rental car facility on the airport's France side and reenter the terminal on the Swiss side in order to access the correct airline.  You'll have to drive Germany's infamous Autobahn while doing miles-to-kilometers per hour conversions in your head. You will get lost in Brussels and Paris, where streets change names every time they bend more than 15 degrees in any direction. Rue des Poissonnieres becomes Zwarte Lievevrouwstraat which becomes Rue de Laeken. You will accidentally order a dish full of mushrooms when you specifically tried to avoid them. You will get stared at, bumped in crowds, stymied by train station ticket machines. You will arrive breathless at the dock just as your boat pulls away, your flight takes to the sky, or your train whistles its way out of the station.

And when you do make it home, because you always will, you will find that your patience has increased twentyfold and you're proud of the person in the mirror, the one with an independent sparkle in her eye.

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The Girl Behind The Red Door

Audrey Camp

Audrey Camp is an American expat and freelance writer living in Oslo, Norway with her husband. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA in 2012. Her essays have appeared in Forge and Foliate Oak Literary Magazine.