The Lost Girls and the Wander Year
[Jennifer, Holly and Amanda dropped everything in their busy lives, including their big-time media careers, boyfriends and their beloved New York City, to truly "get lost." After self proclaimed quarter-life crises, the girls sped off on a year-long trip of a lifetime.
They were looking for some perspective and adventure, but they soon found out that they gained a lot more than that. From exotic illnesses, seemingly impossible physical challenges and some scary moments, to romances, heartaches, and sisterhood, the Lost Girls memoir recounts everything about their year-long trip around the world.]
We were surrounded on all sides by an immense curtain of white water. The cascades heaved over a sheer cliff, carving jade green pools in the jungle floor of Iguazu National Park and drowned out every sound, save one: the pounding of our hiking boots as they tore across the metal viewing platform at the base of the falls.
Holly, our resident sprinter, led the charge towards the exit, with Amanda and me sliding right after her. As updrafts of mist swirled around our feet, we skidded across the final footbridge and shot up a steep staircase, our labored breathing and laughter echoing against the basalt rock walls. Slowing slightly to wipe the spray from my face, I glanced down at my watch. We had less than 10 minutes to make it to the top or we may well be stranded in Brazil all night.
According to the ranger (who’d raced over seconds earlier to see why on earth the three crazy American girls were still casually snapping photos when the park was about to close) there was only one more shuttle bus leaving that night.
So unless we’d brought camping gear or a wad of extra cash to bribe the Brazilian border officials, we’d better be on it. Sure, it would’ve been helpful if our taxi driver had mentioned the one-hour time difference between the Argentinean and Brazilian sides of Iguazu when he semi-illegally transported us across the border, but hey, where would be the fun in that?
We probably should have taken this impending travel disaster a little more seriously. But considering that we’d all but signed over our firstborn kids to our bosses in order to take this little adventure in the first place, we weren’t going to let something like a potential immigration scandal bring us down.
In fact, our escape from New York City a week and a half earlier felt like nothing short of a prison break. When Amanda and I had first told our friends and co-workers that we’d planned to take ten days off—in a row—in order to backpack around Argentina, we were met with some seriously arched eyebrows.
Even though Holly and I had only met a few times and couldn’t be sure that we’d get along for a single day on the road (let alone ten), she only asked two questions before anteing up the money for a ticket: “Which airline are we flying, and when do we leave?” For my part, I was thrilled to have a new co-conspirator in my quest to find a more authentic “real world” than the one that we’d just left behind in Manhattan.
After moving to the city five years earlier to take a job at a national television network, I was dropped into a world of claustrophobic apartments, exorbitant rents, 14-hour workdays, mandatory media events and gospel preachers predicting doomsday on the subways.
I quickly learned that the city had spawned a new kind of Darwinian struggle: only the most career-driven and socially adaptable would survive. In order to cope with the pressure, people generally took one of two paths: the first lined with Xanax, therapists and cigarettes, and the second with bikram yoga, feng shui and green tea.
Glancing down at my own shoes, now filthy from the day’s trek, I was amazed I was still able to run, much less sprint up the final flight of stairs. As we finally broke out of the deep shade of the rainforest and onto the main road, we spotted the bus 50 yards ahead, packed to the brim with passengers.
In a scene befitting of a screwball silver screen comedy, the bus started to pull away at the exact moment we arrived. Holly, who by now I’d learned ran marathons for fun, fired up her legs and dashed even faster, waving a tanned arm above her head, as Amanda and I screamed for the bus to stop.
For once in my adult life, my career and living situation were actually on track, humming right along—but things with my relationship weren’t going so smoothly. In fact, I was bracing myself for a potential train wreck.
After dating my boyfriend, Brian, for almost 3 years, the confidence to shout off the rooftops that, “Hallelujah! He is The One,” still eluded me. While many empathetic souls reminded me that I was still young, a growing number of onlookers had begun to pounce on my uncertainty.
“Shit or get off the pot,” they’d say, invoking the single phrase I loathed more than any other. I mean, maybe I was just comfortable staying in a seated position longer than other people. Can’t a girl simply enjoy the feel of cool porcelain without being judged?
Before we knew it, we were a serious couple. And as the months turned into years, we never had a moment’s pause about progressing naturally from one level to the next. Becoming Exclusive. Meeting the Parents. Planning Vacations. Discussing Living Together. I was one of the lucky ones, shattering the urban myth that it was nearly impossible to find a sweet, gainfully employed city guy who wasn’t afraid to commit.
But within the past few months, we’d hit the proverbial relationship wall. We had no real reason to break up, but no real catalyst moving us forward. I knew that Brian and I would have to face the question of our future eventually, but at 26, I was more than content to take the safe road—present bus ride excluded. As we neared the park exit, the driver slammed into pothole, sending me and my wandering thoughts sliding off the bench and into the aisle.
Visit the Lost Girls' website
Buy this book on Amazon
Read Ariel Newman's article: The Lost Girl Phenomenon: Finding a Cure for the Quarter-Life Crisis
Like this on Facebook: