A Perfect Trip-iversary

Today I decided to clean out the closet in my guest room. Or for those who aren’t familiar, the closet that time forgot. Also affectionately known as the abyss. For me, the guest room closet is that place in my home where I dump anything that I don’t want to see. Papers, files, boxes, books. You name it, it’s probably in this closet. It was also my secret shame because of how chaotic and messy it was. Thankfully, it’s no longer my secret shame.

Anyway, I decided to do a giant purge today. Sadly I never took a before and after picture, but trust me when I say I have exorcised the demons. Of course, there are still boxes in this closet – about 6 of them to be exact, plus a bunch of books and other bric-a-brac that all need to be taken to the dump. But at least now I know what stays and what goes. And it’s organized. That ain’t half bad.

Strangely enough, while cleaning out the closet I came across several things that made me smile. First, I found an old expired passport. The same passport that I used when I treated myself to a trip to Peru to celebrate my 30th birthday, and to celebrate the successful completion of my Ph.D. qualifying exams.

After that, I found some bills crumpled up in a pile. It wasn’t until just now that I looked at them closely and realized they were Peruvian nuevo soles (nuevo sol, in the singular); something I had clearly saved from my trip.

Lastly, I found the activity book that Dr. Steph made for me so that I might not get bored while hiking in the Andes, or travelling through the rain forests. The book included such activities as sudoku, a treasure hunt1, and ample space for which to keep track of my adventure. It also included the following warning:

DON’T FALL OFF THE MOUNTAIN!

Now all of this is awesome in its own right. But, what if I also told you that today is the 6 year anniversary of that trip? Crazy, right? But there it is; I left for my Peruvian adventure exactly 6 years ago today – November 12, 2005. Awesome!

I can still remember my brother Aidan dropping me off at the airport. I was flying to a land I didn’t know, alone. I didn’t speak the language, I knew absolutely no one there, and I was meeting no one that I knew. It was the grandest adventure that I had ever been on, up to that point in my life. I was definitely nervous, but also excited. And I remember saying to my brother when we hugged goodbye that it felt like I was leaving forever. It was a very weird experience. In retrospect, I think the Dan that left that day was not necessarily the same Dan that returned. Not that I was completely changed or anything that profound. However, the trip renewed or deepened the sense of adventure I had. It also let me realize that I was capable of so much more than just book learning. And that was probably the best thing I could have asked from any trip. It definitely fed my wanderlust, and has been the source of inspiration for most of my other trips since.

And since I’m all about numbers, finding all of these things on the 6th anniversary of my trip is especially significant, because 6 just so happens to be the first perfect number; that is, a number that is the sum of its divisors (excluding itself). In other words, $6=1+2+3=1\times 2\times 3$. It’s also a triangular number. Awesome!

Clearly, a 6 year anniversary calls for a celebration. If only I had some ceviche on hand. Or perhaps a Pisco Sour. Sadly, I have neither. But I do have the memory of these things, and the memory of one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. So, I’ll take those, and perhaps a tasty scotch, reminisce a little more, and look forward to my next big adventure.

Happy Saturday all y’all.

1 which required such things as:

1. a lock of hair from one of the sleeping passengers,
2. something that had the airline logo on it that was not paper (i.e., a flight attendant’s scarf),
3. food from someone else’s tray, and
4. another passengers toothbrush.