Fresh Air. Issue 02.

Moments That Define Me by Tamarah Howard

We The Visitors would like to give a huge amount of credit to Tamarah Howard. If it wasnt for sense of adventure, Visitors may have never been created. She is very important addition to the Visitors family. She is such a source of inspiration wherever she travels and nothing will ever get her down. Tamarah is currently teaching english in Tanzania and that only one of her many accomplishments. Its hard to keep up with her; but that's just that type of adventure seeker we love.

Moments That Define Me 


What is it that feeds your soul? A friend asked me this a few weeks ago, and the first thing that popped in my head was this: the moments when I’m by myself, driving, or with friends, and the perfect song comes on that fits the moment perfectly. Suddenly I get a rush of perfect bliss; I realize that everything that happened before this, has brought me to this moment, and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world, I feel infinite. For example, my roommates and I recently graduated this past May, and as we were laying around the living room together sharing our fears and excitement about what comes next, Vienna by Billy Joel comes on. If you’re not too familiar with the song, there’s a few verses that were extremely fitting for the moment, they go like this: 

Slow down, you crazy child 

You're so ambitious for a juvenile 

But then if you're so smart, then tell me 

Why are you still so afraid? 


Where's the fire, what's the hurry about? 

You'd better cool it off before you burn it out 

You've got so much to do 

And only so many hours in a day 


Slow down, you're doing fine 

You can't be everything you want to be 

Before your time... 


We fell silent as we listened to the words, it felt like a warm blanket had been draped over us. We were all in this moment together, and all of our fears were subdued. I looked at the people that I’d experienced so much with, the friends that I call family, and I knew that I would remember that moment forever. It’s these moments that give me strength in my moments of doubt.  


About two months after graduation, my brother got married. They had a beautiful wedding venue in Bozeman, Montana. As I watched his face as his bride walked down the aisle, I cried. The next day, as my brother started his new life, I was dropped off on the side of the highway to start mine. A bit dramatic I know but I needed to get to Calgary, and believe it or not there are no busses that make the short eight hour drive North. I’ve never attempted to hitchhike before, and as I stood in a pull out off highway 15, Billy Joel in my head, and my overly large backpack and duffle bag at my feet, I started to doubt my decision. With my thumb out I glanced at the faces of the people hurtling by in their cars, and I couldn’t help but wonder what they were thinking of me. A few people waved and smiled but didn’t slow down, some glanced at me with confusion on their faces and others completely moved over to the other lane, as if their proximity to me could somehow harm them. To my surprise though, it didn't take long for someone to stop. Approximately five minutes after I was dropped off, an extremely large red truck carrying heavy columns of metal pulled over. As I gathered my bags and walked the length of the bed over to the cab, all of the warnings my friends and family had given me about the dangers of hitchhiking filled my head, but I pushed them aside. The man inside opened the door as I grew nearer and asked me where I was going, it turns out he was headed to the same place and could give me a ride the entire way. The truck was extremely weighed down, so what was supposed to take eight hours turned into twelve, and as I look back on my experience, they’re probably the most eye-opening and defining hours of my life.


When I was younger my family and I went to Juarez, an impoverished town near the US Mexican border to help build houses for those living in cardboard ones. Seeing these families living in the conditions they were, changed my life as a child, but I was with my family and I felt safe. When I was hitchhiking, I realized how I was truly on my own. I was in a state where I knew no one, and I was about to climb into the cab of a truck. I was doing exactly what my parents, friends, and the majority of society say a young woman shouldn't do by herself. However, the countless acts of kindness that this man soon showed me blew me away. His name was Amandeep and in the first few hours I learned all about his family, his wife and two kids. He told me about his experience coming over from India and how he became a truck driver because it’s the best paying job he could get. He drives from California to Calgary, (a 24 hour drive) approximately three times a month. He only gets to see his family five days out of thirty. 


He bought me lunch, which I felt weird about at first until I realized that he was more offended when I refused. He waited for me on the other side of the Canadian border because I had to find another ride across, trucks aren’t really allowed to carry passengers. We talked on and off for the next few hours, and he told me about how he turned his life from nothing into something. That night as we drew closer to Calgary, he bought me dinner and I taught him how to play a card game, and he taught me one called Papi. He said it was his daughter's favorite game. It was about ten at night when we got into the city and he refused to just drop me off downtown. Instead he called me a cab, waited with me to pay the driver, and continued to give me Canadian dollars because he knew I only had US currency, and there were no banks open that time of night. I was astonished by his generosity. When I told Amen I couldn’t thank him enough for how kind he had been to me, a complete stranger, he responded by saying how could he be anything else when I was so kind to him. 


I went into this situation with and open but sceptical mind. People say don’t pick up a hitchhiker because they could be an axe murderer, but at the same time people say don’t hitchhike because a crazy axe murderer could pick you up. It’s a double edged sword. Sure, you could say I got lucky, as I know I did, but I like to think that the majority of people out there are good, that we’ve just forgotten how to give them a chance. With everything going on in the world right now, I think it would be a good thing for us to remember how to do.


That night as I hung out in a small hostel downtown, I continued to meet incredible people from all over the world. Each person on their own life journey, figuring out what it is that makes them excited to get up everyday. That night I made a list of moments and things for myself because I didn't want to forget the feeling of liberation I was experiencing: 

1. Love with your whole heart. 

2. The best days are the ones you don’t expect. 

3. The moment when you’re okay with something being just the way it is. 

4. If you look at someone with an open heart, they’ll do the same. 

5. Don’t wait around for something to happen, make it happen. 

6. We’re our own worst enemy. 

7. Watch the sunshine light up the dust in the air as it streams through a window. 

8. Do something that scares you. That’s when you learn the most. 

9. The smell and sound of grass being cut in summer. 

10. Escape outside instead of in your head. 

11. That feeling when you trust in yourself, and accomplish something you didn't think possible. 

12. The way your body softens when you see something truly beautiful. 



My best friend once told me that what feeds our soul is the compassion we have for ourselves and those around us. It’s that kind of beauty that inflames the heart and enchants the soul.


Article by Tamarah Howard