Growing up in a small town in southeast Arkansas life was pretty simple. There were no malls, no fancy restaurants, or any restaurants for that matter. We didn't even have a McDonalds or Sonic. There was a theater for a brief time, twice, but it never lasted long. There were no water parks, city parks, dog parks, or even Cherokee Parks. As kids we played outside and used our imagination. As older kids we still played outside, but we used Chevy's and Fords instead. There were no places to party other than maybe a muddy bean field. On Friday nights we drove in circles around the town square. What I am trying to say is I led a sheltered life.
Going to college changes a few things. I went to school in a town much larger than my home town, but it was still relatively small. There were some fun things to do. Our world revolved around the fraternity house. Of course any discussion of trying new things in college is destined for out of bounds. That is not where I am heading with this post.
I am talking about experiencing the world and what it has to offer. In 2001 I started my current job. My first assignment was to go and help with the start up of a power plant in Rossano, Italy. On my first visit I stayed there for six weeks straight. This little village on the Mediterranean was far from the tourist centers of Italy. Maybe five people in the entire town spoke English. I only met two that I can remember. One was a police officer who greeted us with "Why are you here?" The other was a bank employee that spoke English well enough to say "We don't take travellers checks."
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Imagine a small town farm boy out of the United States for the first time. I had never been farther than Florida. Otherwise my travels usually were to either Dallas or St. Louis. I didn't know much about anything. I truly believe that this trip changed my life.
Before going to Italy I thought the way I did things was the only way. Any other way must be wrong. The people of Italy did things so differently that it was a complete culture shock. In a daring manner I decided to jump right in especially in the cuisine department. If my little book of translations didn't cover a menu item, then I just ordered it to find out what it was. This led me to eating an entire dinner of only mussels, grilled cuttlefish, and other delights. Eventually I made friends with the restaurant owner and he served me a special of his choosing every night. It was the best food I have ever eaten.
From this I learned that I love mussels, clams, calamari, any type of fish in general, and so many other things. I absolutely loved the assortments of antipasta. This trying new things should not be all about food. It should be about life in general.
I started travelling more to see the U.S. Since then I have been to New York, Chicago, and Boston on personal vacations. Seeing the big cities and how you city folk live is quite a thrill. Of course on business trips I have seen many other countries as well. The true joy of travelling on business, other than it being free, is seeing how the locals live on a day to day basis. If you get away from the tourist traps you can really get a picture of what life is like for regular people in the places you visit. It can be such a learning experience.
This is where my son comes in to the picture. I want Braden to be able to enjoy as many different things as possible. His life will be much different than mine right from the beginning. We live in a town with hundreds of restaurants. We have several parks. We even have a two Wal-Marts which you know I love. The opportunities for him here are abundant.
I don't want him to think the rest of the world is like our little home. He should learn about other places and other cultures. I hope he has the opportunity to see the world. I hope he will experience life with open eyes and an open mind. There is so much to experience and learn if you are ready and willing to try.