In short, yes. I do feel like I have limited to both the number and range of stories to which I have been exposed.
I was born and raised in smallish-town Ardmore, Oklahoma. With a population of about twenty-five thousand, Ardmore wasn’t puny, but it had the whole small-town vibe that just wasn’t my cup of tea. I went to the same school with the same one hundred kids for twelve years. I attended the same church with the same congregation for almost two decades. I have even lived in the same house and had the same bedroom for the literal entirety of my life. Not only being surrounded by the same circles of people for eighteen years, but having everyone know each other’s middle names, birthdays, and ten+ cousins who live down the road has made being exposed to new and wide-ranging stories difficult.
However, I will say that I have had a big saving grace when it comes to being globally aware. Let me begin by clarifying that I know only a fraction of her almost unbelievable life, but what I do know has been learned over years of holiday story times, sunset chats, and trips down her memory lane. My grandmother Maureen, or Mo for short, was born in Portsmouth, England around eighty years ago. Because of World War ll, she and her family were bounced around between England and Scotland for several years in her early youth and lost the majority of their belongings and savings a total of three times (her father, my great-grandfather, also deserves his own story about his pick-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps mentality, but that’s for another day). However, she always managed to retain one specific commodity that changed her life: her bike. By the time she was twelve or thirteen she had already begun solo-biking across England and wherever else she could land; she had lived in Germany and France by herself before she would have even been able to legally able to drive in the U.S. (picking up French and German along the way); and she had left her country, friends, and family behind before she was the age I am today.
And that’s not even scratching the surface.
To reiterate and get relatively back on topic, yes, I do feel like I have been kind of limited in my exposure to the world and its stories. However, I have had an incredible role model who has taught me about the world and its history through an entirely unique perspective–her own life.
You’ll definitely hear more about Mo later. She’s deserves her own book (a joke my father [her son] and I are actually contemplating making a reality) and a lot of credit. She is the reason my love and desire to discover the world, its people, and its cultures is coming to life.