In early May I took a road trip to three cities in Texas–Houston, Austin and Ft. Worth, and while in Austin I looked up a couple who traveled to Galapagos with me a few years ago. They are dear friends of a friend and I just loved their company. Their lovely home was designed after an Italian villa — we sat and sipped wine in their living room and reconnected. Here are five things that I learned from that Sunday afternoon.
1. Reconnecting with travel companions is almost like traveling again. Even though it had been over 4 years since we were in Galapagos together, it felt as if no time at all had passed. We picked up right where we left off. Mike, Marcie and I relived our trip from Quito to the islands, and back to Quito. Yes, we all have photos to recall the places we visited, but the stories and laughter and comraderie is a personal and human element that adds richness to the memories.
2. People transform their surroundings based on their travel adventures. This happens to me all the time; has it ever happened to you? You visit a country and embrace the architecture and lifestyle so much that you a) want to sell everything and live there forever, or b) want to completely transform your current house. Mike and Marcie did the latter and designed their new home as an Italian villa based on a recent trip to Europe. The architect did an amazing job of creating a Tuscan atmosphere from the space of the rooms to the trim and windows, wall colors, and even the vistas. Our afternoon was transformed from a Houston home to a grand Italian villa.
3. The treasures you collect, inspire a lifetime of stories. What is it about being in a different country that nudges us to bring home piece of the culture? I have traveled the world and brought home everything from rugs to dishes and always artworks. Mike and Marcie furnished their new home with treasures from Italy, and as I sat in their living room, this charming couple told the story of nearly every purchase. They relived their trip not through a photo album but by the experiences they had in small villages, antique shops, and local artisans. They remembered where they were, where they ate, the names of shop-keepers, a bargain here and there. Forever, as they look around the living room, they flash back to Italy and take me with them.
4. Sharing your travel memories is inspiring to you and those around you on a daily basis. There is hardly a time when 3 or 4 people are gathered together that the conversation doesn’t quickly turn to custom travel. Perhaps because I am in the business (I doubt the same is true for say, a banker) but I believe that people inately love to travel–somewhere. So, when this happens the conversation begins something like this: “Where have you been lately?” “What’s your next trip?” “I just returned from (fill in the blank)?” and it moves into stories, and people they have met, and hiccups along the way, and trading restaurants and must-see and the list goes on. Everyone is inspired and the conversation usually ends with plans for the next adventure.
5. It is so critical for your living room to reflect the living you have done in your life. In the case of Mike and Marcie their home reflected their love of Italy. For me, and others I know, my living room is a gumbo of treasures. I have a rug from Turkey, scrolls from China, a pillow from Morocco, and a vase from Cambodia. I might serve homemade limoncello in tiny Italian glasses and an assortment of cheeses on an olive wood board I found in San Gimignano. A perfect day for me would be to slowly stroll through flea markets (like the one in Dublin) to snatch up that one last relic that will now make my living room complete.
My visit with Mike & Marcie taught me so much and reminded me of much more. I think of how much time I spend in my own living room–it is cozy, comfortable and I am surrounded by treasures I have gathered from my travels. Websters says that a living room is “room used for relaxation and the entertainment of guests.” I figured I spend only about 25 hours a week in my living room of treasures, however I spend about 50 hours (twice the amount) in my office. So, there is one more thing I learned.
6. I realized that I need to bring this type of living room experience to my office.