Pulling a geographic. That's what my therapist calls it. But sometimes there's nothing more soothing, nothing that cures me better than to sit 35,000 feet up and look out the window at oceans, tundra, and verdant landscapes. To watch the world rush past me from a train window. To spend the night alone in a hotel or with a friend on a couch or guest bed.

Funny that it should happen this way. My parents, well-educated Midwestern professionals, didn't take us on faraway trips. Save for a few small exceptions, we'd just head up north to Brainerd, Minnesota, once a summer and vacation on Gull Lake. But from the time I was young enough to know about travel, I wanted more of it.

I lusted for airplane travel and the scent of its fuel. In second grade, I learned about exchange programs and decided at some point I would go on one. My grade school offered German and I took it through the end of college. And when I turned 17, I decided it was time for a new experience. I spent my senior year of high school in Düsseldorf, Germany.

That year marked the first of many geographics.