God only knows how you have found my humble little blog on the world-wide-web, but here you are. While you’re here, I figure I should give you some insight into who I am. My full name is Jessica Rae Morgan, and I’m 23 years-old as of July 19th. If I’m being honest my life’s journey started in Standish, Maine. A super small town about 30 minutes Northwest of Portland, Maine’s biggest city. Standish is located on the rocky shores of Sebago Lake, and it’s where I grew up. Our house, we call it “Camp.” It’s a variation on what other people call their cottage, cabin, lake house, etc., but in Maine it’s Camp. The Camp was my first home. It’s where my parents brought me home as a baby. Even now as a young adult I still long to go back “home” when I’m away.
My parents and I lived in Standish for two and a half to three years of my life, but then it was time to move. Like any parents mine only wanted the best education for me and they decided our new home would be in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. Here is where I grew up. It’s your typical coastal town that’s littered with tourists in the summer coming to peek at Portland Head Light (most photographed light house in the world) and dip their toes in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. In the winter it becomes a sleepy little town where we gather around the fire place during storms, read a lot of books, and watch too many shows and movies for our own good. It’s a simple life and a beautiful one.
When I was three and half my parents divorced. I remember not understanding, I remember being in the kitchen of my Mom’s house when I was told, but this divorce wouldn’t change in my mindset. I still had my mom and my dad. From then on I grew up in two households. My mother stayed in the house in Cape, and my Dad moved nearby, but later, when I was ten years old, moved to Portland. I lived with both of my parents 50% of the time. Monday, Tuesday with Mom, Wednesday, Thursday with my Dad, and every other Friday, Saturday, Sunday with Mom or Dad. I laugh now thinking about how crazy that was but both my parents wanted full participation in my life, and they had it. So I was raised by two single parents.
My mother is an artist. She also dabbled in the financial business and sales, but she’s an artist through and through. Her home was, and still is, one of wonder. The walls were filled with her paintings and photographs. Her favorite medium is oil on panel, but she’s just generally artsy-fartsy. It felt like every day there was a new art project whether it was repainting one wall in the living room or putting the next layer of paint on a painting, there was always a project. My Mum is great. She and I can make each other laugh for days and make each other cry our eyes out. We are both incredibly powerful women, she’s a Scorpio, and I’m a Cancer, so sometimes we fight, but that’s what mothers and daughters do? Right? Coming from a family of 5 children, my mother being the middle child and oldest daughter; she is a warrior. Whatever comes her way she survives and I admire her so much for that. She’s also a nurturer, she loves taking care of people and loves making people happy. She thinks she’s hilarious and most of the time she is (lol sorry Mum).
Then comes my Dad, Barry. Barry Ray. Bear. Big Bad Bear. Bearno. Daddy-O. You name it, he has more nicknames “than you can shake a stick at.” He’s the King of weird sayings like “We’re off like a dirty pair of underwear” or “It’s hotter than a hookers tit” or “I’m so hungry I could eat the hind end out of skunk” (ew Dad, really?). But really this is my dad the goofball, the weirdo, the one and only Barry Ray Morgan. Beneath the “bullshitting” as he calls it, he’s one of the most driven and understanding people I know. He shares ownership of his business with his partner, Frank, and with their staff of 35 employees, they create car commercials for dealerships across America. Pretty cool, huh? It’s cool until he won’t let you mute any of the commercials on the TV. But he is my confidante; If I ever need to feel better about a situation, I call my Dad because he seems to have endless wisdom to tap into. He’s also my biggest cheerleader and supports me with literally everything I do. He’s the best Dad a girl could ask for, truly.
If you’ve made it this far down the page, I applaud you because you are a step closer to truly understanding, well, me. If there’s one thing I am, it’s a free spirit. Though that word seems cliche it’s so applicable to me, I was raised by two free spirits; so how couldn’t I be one too?! Anyway, fast forward to 2017, and here I am a recent college graduate with a fancy-schmancy degree under my belt. Yes, free spirits can go to college too! But I went to college because I love to learn, well, more accurately, I love to read. Instead of pursuing a major where I had a safe bet on getting a job offer, I became an English major. I read and read to my heart’s content, and I read past my hearts content into the twisted, complicated depths of epics and books such as Paradise Lost, Go Down, Moses, Absolom and Achitophel, To the Lighthouse, and countless other books that I was completely baffled by but absolutely immersed in.
Now it’s the beginning of my senior year, and my friends are well on their way to applying for jobs and interviewing for positions, but here I am with still no clue what I want to do after school. So, on a whim, I looked up volunteer opportunities abroad, and Google led me to Globalteer. I checked out a couple of their programs, and finally, one program clicked with me. The Thailand Elephant Sanctuary. It’s located in the Phetchaburi Providence in Southern Thailand about 30-40 minutes from the coast. They have four to five elephants at a time and welcome volunteers to come and spend one to twelve weeks in Thailand. So crazy old me said, “fuck it lets do it for 8 weeks.” I applied and got accepted within a week. That was back in October. Now it’s the end of August, and I leave for Thailand August 31st. My, oh, my, how time has flown! My parents have given me nothing but encouragement throughout the entire process and mostly just want me to go experience the journey of a lifetime and eventually COME HOME safe and sound.
I’m writing this blog as my personal journal/observations/reflections of what I experience along with my travels. I’ve never traveled in South East Asia before so I am truly “winging it.” But with a little faith in myself and the universe I know I will experience everything this beautiful place has to offer. My journey doesn’t just end in Thailand, I’m planning to travel to at least 6 more countries before I make the long trek back home to my sleepy little town. I hope you will follow my journey and experience it with me. You can follow my journey here or via my Instagram (@jayrae__ ) which will be overflowing photos of my adventures, I’m sure.
(Thank you to the people who read to the end, you are the real MVPs, xoxox)