I spend a good amount of time thinking about why we travel. I’m quite eager to put my finger on it, actually. Which is why I was so caught off guard when an unexpected pandemic journey left me feeling very far from home, indeed.
Last year, we decided to finally get a dog for our son who’s begged us for years.
The thing is, we weren’t alone. Animals were hard to find, and after being turned down for a few adoptions, a connection from a friend led us to a farm in Amish country, Pennsylvania where we were to meet puppies of the breed our son had diligently researched: a Cavapoo (Cavalier King Charles Spaniel + Poodle.)
It took just a few hours to drive there, which threw me for a loop when - without a plane ticket, or even packing a bag – the feeling of travel rushed in.
The Amish live with a distinctly different pace of life. On the roads there are horse drawn carriages – and grown men riding full-sized adult push-scooters for miles, given the Amish’s relationship with technology. The phone is never answered on Sunday, and a uniform approach to how everyone dresses made me see how simpler fashion choices make room for other more important things in life. It’s an interesting take for an apparel maker, I know.
Beyond what I saw, what I most enjoyed was what I heard. My favorite time was standing there – for gosh, it must have been 45 minutes – exchanging stories with a farmer named Amous about what it felt like to live in the places we did.
I shared a picture of my time overseas, and the pace of my life now in NYC. We talked lots about the land, the weather, and the people. Never about food or man made sights.
When I confessed that I’d convinced a girl from Montana – my wife, Rachel – to leave such beautiful country, Amous assured me that even though he hadn’t been further west than Ohio, he was pretty sure that if he grew up in Montana, he would never leave.
I thought a lot about the consistency in the generations of Amous’ family – past and future. And, I saw both sides of the coin: the comfort found through a more prescribed culture versus the reward but also, the risk, of a wide open world. Amous had a beard that put mine to shame and as we talked I couldn’t help stealing glances at the deer carcass hanging in the barn directly behind him.
This experience wasn’t a predictably thrilling moment like when I made Vietnamese street vendor ladies laugh with my Tiếng Việt language skills, bridging what seemed like an obvious divide. Instead, I was energized by how clear it was that Amos and I could spend real time together. We could work together. Nevermind the differences in our culture and lives.
This weekend, I am holding up in a hotel in Brooklyn, putting my nose to the grindstone to complete materials for our latest investment round. Yet, as excited I am about the investment project, I am drawn to be off milking cows with Amous. Which has me wondering: would that be travel, or just living?