When I graduated high school, one of my classmates received a gift from his parents: a trip anywhere he wanted.

"Gosh," I thought; "Where would I go, if I could go anywhere?"

The answer: Australia.

Three years later, I spent a semester there.

Unfortunately, I was not the independent traveler in 2000 that I am in 2020. I knew almost none of the classmates I traveled with, and I wasn't as interested as they were in taking advantage of the lower drinking age. Rather than strike out on my own, I mostly kept to myself.

I'd brought a few books to sustain me on the long flight to Melbourne, and a few other books for the flight home. But midway through my ten weeks in Oz, I'd already finished everything I brought.

"Send more books!" I emailed my parents. And so they infiltrated my bedroom and plundered my generous shelves of unread novels — a consequence of a previous summer spent working at WaldenBooks. They boxed them up and shipped them to me, 10,480 miles away, providing me an oasis in a lonely time.

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