Growing up my birthday always fell over spring break. My parents would take my brother and I to California, where we could see family from both sides – my mom’s sister and brother-in-law, my dad’s siblings and parents – and then there’d be a few days for just the four of us at the Monterrey Bay Aquarium or a funny little motel in Seattle, the city where my parents met and where I was born. As we made our way up the coast, each stop with relatives would mean a few presents and a different cake.
When I was 14, though, my school offered the opportunity to go to Rome for just over a week. I’d been dreaming of going “abroad” for longer than I could remember. There was no way I could say no.
When we stepped off the last plane, the air was different. There were palm trees and mopeds, arches and pillars, fountains and ruins.
I was addicted – I had a passport, and my life would never be the same.