One year ago today, I was hanging out with my brother in Japan, seeing and exploring places like Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Hiroshima.
Since then, I've made three separate trips to the Middle East (and during one of those trips I even got to explore the Netherlands, if only for a couple of hours), a trip to the Nevada-California border to gamble and ski, a trip to New Orleans to survey that city's recovery, a trip to Mexico and Belize aboard a cruise liner last week, a trip to the Texas Hill Country for holiday, and at least a dozen trips to the Dallas - Fort Worth - Denton Metroplex to work, visit family, and/or watch the Coogs get their asses kicked in bowl games.
It's occurred to me that I have done a great deal of traveling over the past 365 days; more traveling, in fact, than I've ever done in any comparable one-year span of my life. Given that I used to spend the summers in Ecuador, it's actually somewhat remarkable.
On one hand, it's been a lot of fun. I've been able to experience different cultures in Japan and the Arab world, snow ski for only the third time in my life, relax on picturesque Caribbean beaches, sample different cuisines, practice my Spanish, and rack up frequent-flyer credits. On the other hand, it's also been a hassle. Much of the travel I've done over the past year has been business-related, which is not, by definition, pleasurable. Being eight thousand miles away from your wife and child for weeks at a time, as was the case during my trips to Dubai, creates at least some stress. Travel by plane - even for a short day trip to Dallas for a meeting - can be a hassle due to all the security procedures, especially now that most liquids are banned from carry-on items and need to be checked. There's always the possibility that the airline will lose your luggage, too. Tasks pile up while you're away from home: the yard doesn't get mowed, the leaky roof doesn't get fixed, your personal e-mail inbox fills up with 1,500 messages. And a hotel bed, comfortable though it might be, just isn't a substitute for your own bed.
But this is what I expected when I joined this company almost two years ago. I knew I was going to travel. And, to be honest, it's nice to get out of the local office every now and then, even if it only means that I'll be spending a few days at the office in Dallas or a few weeks at the office in Dubai. It's a change of pace, scenery and coworkers which I find refreshing.
My travels, for work and for pleasure, will continue. I'll need to be in Dallas again for another round of public meetings in early November. Thanksgiving plans have yet to be finalized but the possibility of another trip to New Braunfels exists. My company is working on a bid up in Chicago that I might get asked to particpate in (and, believe it or not, I've never in my life even been to Chicago!). If the Coogs manage to make it to another bowl game, I might make the trip. Lori is talking about a trip to Puerto Vallarta with my parents in January (although I don't know if I'll have enough time off saved up by then). Friends in places like Albany, Baltimore and Portland continually ask when I'll come visit. And the possibility that I'll get asked back out to Dubai is always there, as well.
Thus, my suitcases stay in the corner of the bedroom. There's no sense in storing them in the closet, because they won't stay in there for very long.