Throughout our Jet Set travels we’ve met people from diverse cultures and backgrounds who all share a certain bond: they “get it.” They get that a college degree and a six-figure job isn’t as good for the soul as it is for the wallet. They seek out inspiration through incredible careers across the world. They are the people whose lives you want to have (but might never think it’s possible), whose stories you love to listen to, and whose voices should be heard. To salute these life-seekers we’re launching a new profile series called Jet Set Heroes and to kick things off, meet Laura Jane Williams.
Job(s): Writer, performer and free-spirit
Currently In: Italy, teaching English and getting fat off of too much bruschetta, If there is such a thing.
My Nanna went backpacking at 71. That’s sort of a lot to live up to.
I’ve travelled all over the world- from India to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, European capitals, a couple of summers in France- as well as living in Detroit for a while and a stint working in a Sri Lankan orphanage. I was 18, and I didn’t even know where Ceylon was until I got out the atlas AFTER I booked my ticket.
I don’t actually consider myself to be “from” anywhere.
I moved all over the U.K. growing up and now going back to where my parents live it isn’t so much home as literally where my parents live. It just so happens that Derbyshire is beautiful, but that’s beside the point. It isn’t where my spirit can rest up easy with a glass of Prosecco and a big outward sigh.
I’ve felt many spiritual homes on my travels.
Rome stuck with me after I visited when I was 16- something about the rows and rows of trees and the way the boys all looked like beautiful girls- and India often felt like a fit. I remember begging my boyfriend at the time to look for a job in finance over there, and after we broke up I realized that actually, I could find my own job in situ if I wanted it so badly. I don’t think I’d get many visitors though- Mum wouldn’t even come and visit me in the States because the water might upset her tummy and there are too many guns. I’m not sure a diet of dahl and chapti would suit her, although she did once don a salwaar kameez for a curry night she hosted. She’s wild, my mum. (Hi, Mama!)
“For me the karma bank holds more value than the cash bank does.”
My life now is 100% removed from previous lives, with their fifteen hour work days and canceling plans at the last minute and never having the time to stop and talk about the weather; when I was always late or missing something or pent up with anger/frustration/confusion, and it started with taking a chance. I have stories and memories and adventures to my name instead now. That’s like gold to me.
I’m the only person I know who has been to Delhi and suffered constipation. Similarly, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I got “backed up” and took laxative after laxative because they didn’t seem to be working. Five hours later I was I hovered stark-bollock-naked precariously over the squat-and-drop as I projectiled out of my bum, threw up onions all over myself and my boyfriend tried to help me stop sweating bullets. For anybody interested, I’m now single.
Walking in a Sri Lankan national park and suddenly having my eyes adjust to see mummy elephant, daddy elephant and baby elephant on the horizon altered my very being.When their trumpets reverberated through the trees of the jungle and the very depths of my soul, I understood how a moment can change a lifetime.
I ended up in Italy because…My brother worked for ACLE in the summer of 2008. I drove him to the airport one Sunday and then waitressed a lunch shift in a country pub afterward. The service that day SUCKED. I was so unbelievably envious about what he was about to undertake, and the photographs of Ferrari’s for the school run and after-hours infinity pools just drove me over the edge. Come 2009, I committed to the whole summer working for the company myself, and… IT CHANGED MY LIFE. I’m not kidding.
“Not long ago I got a tattoo to punctuate my journey- both literally and metaphorically.” It says ‘si’ in Italian- yes- to remind that when you say yes to life, it often says yes back. ACLE helped me to learn that. Not bad for a summer job.
There’s something special about the way Italians live their lives, and it inspires me to try and live my own life better. No matter how much they love their work, it seems that it doesn’t consume them. There is always time for espresso, and dinner around the table with family, and for the sunshine. I feel like they are all having an enormous amount of really fabulous sex. There is an inherent understanding toward the meaning of being alive- it’s about the feeling. I respect that. I respect the getting laid.
I often think that I must be a hard friend to have.
It’s the only downside to the nomadic lifestyle – I’m never around. It can be difficult to stay in touch on the road. My best friend got engaged when I was living in Detroit and it took me two weeks to find out. That was rough. I try to make up for it when I’m back on home turf but I wish I could share more of these happy moments that those I love have to tell me about over Skype. Long distance relationships can’t survive. The best memories are shared memories and without those, relationships die. I don’t think that’s a pessimistic reasoning. It’s true.
I can spot a fellow wanderlust from ten paces. We’re an endangered breed.
I met my creative soulmate on the road just last week! Thanks, universe. As far as I’m concerned travel is the best way to meet likeminded people. There’s a certain tenacity and vivaciousness we have.
I HAVE to do Morocco next. It’s been on my mind for quite some time, and from the U.K. it’s only four hours on a budget airline. I WILL DO IT.
I will say yes to life, just like I have been taught.