The Journey Begins

It was late January when my husband and I happened to run into our friends David and Janna at a Friday evening art opening at a gallery in Charlottesville. Over spinach dip, Swedish meatballs, and cabernet sauvignon, we chatted about the holidays, and our children, and their latest exciting adventure. David, it turned out, was serving for a second time as dean for a Semester at Sea voyage, this time going around the world. My heart ached with longing as Janna rattled off the list of places on the itinerary: Spain, Morocco, Ghana, South Africa…

Ah…Morocco, I thought. It was my current number one destination of desire on the list of 100 places I want to visit before I die. And with every new country Janna listed, my sighs became more urgent.

“Oh how I wish I could do that!” I exclaimed.

All of a sudden, Janna looked at me, eyes wide with the spark of realization, and declared, “You can! David just got approval this morning for someone to teach basic writing and start a writing center on the ship. You’re a writer. You could do that!”

Of course I could, I thought, and immediately started imagining the possibilities: a travel writing theme, readings about every port we would visit, a focus on writing for the real world, walking through the steps of the writing process…

The magic of the whole thing, though, is that at the turn of the year just a few weeks earlier, I was looking forward to what I might like to do differently in the coming year. The thought that came most urgently then was that I’d like to travel more. I was thinking of my friend Majida who offered to show me her native Morocco one day, when I wrote in my journal: “I’d like to make friends with people who live there and get to know the real country. I’d like to learn a lot.”

Well, it seems my wish has been granted. Here I am, embarking on the journey of a lifetime to visit many places I’ve longed to see, to make friends with people whose lives are very different from mine, and to learn a lot.

— Linda Kobert

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