I've always been a bit of a nomad. As with everything else, I blame my severe case of wanderlust on my parents/childhood. You see, I moved around a lot growing up. No, I'm not a military brat, but a member of a similarly afflicted species - preacher's kid. By the time I was twelve I had lived in Michigan twice, the Philippines, a tiny town in southeast Missouri called Dexter, and finally, the suburbs of Chicago, where I stayed put until graduating high school.
Of these, our year in the Philippines stuck with me the most. I absolutely loved it. I loved the hot, sticky climate. I loved our proximity to the beach, where I could go swimming. And most of all, I loved that there was an actual rice paddy beyond our backyard, which I spent many a happy hour exploring.
I'd go into the field and collect tiny frogs in a bucket, then release them in our kitchen. Or I'd find praying mantises and hide them in my sister's room. I somehow ended up with a pet rooster. I once even convinced my nanny ("ya ya") to let me take home a goat that was grazing on the side of the road. We kept it in the garage until my parents returned home to find a panicked animal standing in a sea of its own droppings. As with my other animal related stunts, they were not amused.
My family also made it a point to take a vacation every summer. We'd pile into the prerequisite mini-van and drive a thousand miles to Boston, or the Smoky Mountains, or Yellowstone National Park. While too much time on the road inevitably led to a barrage of sibling squabbles, the destination was always worth the journey.
All that changed when I moved to California to attend USC. I didn't even have a car until my final semester, and spent most of my time holed up in South Central. Without money to travel, my only getaways were home to visit family. Upon graduation, I quickly landed an "industry job" in the accounting department of a soon to be canceled TV series. But a lowly clerk's salary barely made rent. Vacations were a luxury I could not afford.
Then came LOST.
I was flown to Hawaii to work on a TV pilot that would forever change my life. Suddenly, I found myself back on a tropical island, and being paid handsomely to live there. A hotel room overlooking the Pacific ocean. Per diem to cover my food and expenses. Yes, the job was difficult. At the time, it was the most expensive pilot ever shot, which made accounting for it a challenge. But come Saturday night, the cast and crew would party together in clubs, and spend the next day recovering on beaches. I quit smoking and picked up running, shedding forty pounds in three months. And wouldn't you know it, the pilot we made was actually good. Like, groundbreaking good. I decided to stick around for the first season. Best decision I ever made - because that's how I met my wife.
As work in Los Angeles has dried up due to competing out of state tax credits, I've gotten hired for distant location shows with greater frequency. In the past six years, I've worked in Miami, Atlanta (x2), Vancouver, and New York City (x2). And when I'm not working, we're traveling - Thailand, Paris, Italy, and most recently, Spain. My passport is rapidly filling up, with more international trips on the horizon. Travel exhilarates me. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Now don't get me wrong. Living out of a suitcase has its own set of challenges. At a certain point, the cost begins to outweigh the benefits. You want to put down roots, sleep in your own bed. I've already made plans to return to Los Angeles, trading in my distant hire badge for a local one.
But I'll never grow tired of exploring.
So, in my spare long weekends, holidays and vacation time, I'll continue to travel. Appetite and camera in tow.