Does It Count?

I am obsessed with seeing all 50 states. I don’t know if it’s from the road trips or weird YouTube videos about US geography but either way, it’s kind of my thing.

So far I’ve been to 34 states and I’m very proud of that. I know that’s more than people have seen in their entire lives and I’m only 23. I don’t take that for granted.

I’m not trying to brag about how many states I’ve seen. In fact, recently I’ve been evaluating the way I have seen them.

Or if they “count”.

Fun fact, for my 13th birthday, I took a trip to Graceland on a Christian tour group bus. After that we took a steamboat cruise on the Mississippi River where the band played smooth jazz and you already know I danced the night a way. That previous sentence literally tells you all you need to know about me as a person and also how absolutely cool I was in my early adolescence.

Alexa, play Teenagers by My Chemical Romance.

Alexa, play Teenagers by My Chemical Romance.

ANYWAY, while on the cruise, I clearly remember the captain indicating when we crossed into the state of Mississippi. I was SO STOKED. I remember watching the barges pass by at sunset (wow so picturesque) and being like dang, this is Mississippi, I’m really in this place. Then of course, we turned around at some point and made our way back to the Tennessee line. So does that count as visiting Mississippi? I mean, I wasn’t even on land.

Another time, my friend Danielle and I drove out of our way to cross the Nebraska state line. We took a picture and then we got gas and a snack and drove on through to South Dakota. Does that count? We didn’t do anything “state-worthy”, at least I was on the Mississippi River in Mississippi.

Sometimes it’s easy to know when something counts. Like you spent the night there, or you saw an important site or ate some well known local dish. Other times it’s like you want to invalidate your experience because something did or didn’t happen.

One reason I have been thinking of this, is because in around a month I’m knocking a very important and once in a lifetime state from my list, Hawaii. I’m so incredibly lucky I get to do this with my husband’s family and there is no doubt THAT ONE WILL COUNT.

But on the way, we have a layover in California, a state I haven’t visited yet.

I’ve discussed trying to leave LAX so that it would “count”. See, most people say layovers don’t actually mean you have visited a place.I’ve also thought maybe it will count because Miley Cyrus sings about “hopping off the plane at LAX with a dream and a cardigan”. And I totally plan on wearing a cardigan that day.

It’s kind of sad how much I’ve debated if it counted.

But honestly, looking back, I think we know it our hearts when something counts.

I was very present when I was in Mississippi as a 13 year old on a Jazz cruise with social security recipients. That counted.

I drove out of the way to see Nebraska. It counted.

My niece, Teaguen, will be a little less than two when she visits Hawaii. Now that’s a real life adventure girl. Chances are she won’t have many memories of the trip. But we will, and she will have no doubt she has been to a place few have ever gone. And ya know what, that counts to me and she will decide if it counts for her.

YOU get to decide if it counts. Forget the rules.

If you don’t remember or you were really little when you went to that awesome destination, you still went. And it counts, unless you don't think it does, then go back. If you want.

People have all kinds of special moments in airports, layovers can totally count. I think Tom Hanks played a guy who lived in an airport for a whole year, I’m sure that guy made tons of memories! But also, if you just stopped in London for 2 hours, I can totally understand you thinking it doesn't mean you “actually” went to England.

So what if you only flew over the Grand Canyon, you still saw it! Unless you feel like you need to  walk along the rim to feel like you truly experienced it, then maybe it doesn't count.

The point is, it counts, or maybe it doesn’t, but you get to decide that and no one else.