World travelers are hidden in our
daily lives. The man on the corner selling newspapers has seen the foothills of
Saudi Arabia. The woman in the next cubicle has danced in the bars of
Israel. Walking down the street in a
city, I wish I could simply look into the minds of passerby. What are their
stories? Where have they walked? What
have they seen? On one occasion, I finally was able to look into the travel
stories of one traveler – spending his winters in a corner of a classroom, waiting
for the summer months to come.
Brett looks up from his computer and smiles.
He turns down his techno music (a standard sound in his study periods) that has
been resonating from his computer speakers, and turns to me. His jacket
displays the logo of the HHS Wrestling team, with COACH brazenly embellished on
the sleeve. He is deeply involved in Haverhill High School, with good reason;
it was his high school too. And though he has returned to where he grew up, the
trip getting here has taken him across the country, and across the world.
Brett Legault grew up in Haverhill,
Massachusetts. He attended Haverhill High, where he played football, wrestled
and ran track. After graduating, he attended Plymouth State University- not for
teaching, but for his degree in Business. “No, I never planned on being a math teacher,
but once I tried teaching, I fell in love with it after the first day,” he
tells me. His favorite part of teaching? “I love it when you can see the light
go on. It’s amazing when the kids don’t think they can do something, and then
figure out they actually can. Usually, it’s just a matter of trying,” he
explains with a genuine smile. But it isn’t just in the classroom where he
helps Hillies succeed.
But his other passion is far from
New England. It is in the tacks upon his wall. I learned of Brett’s life of
travel when in high school, after asking him about the map he had next to his
chalkboard. It isn’t often that world maps are found in math rooms. But it
isn’t often that a math teacher is able to say he’s been to Thailand. Mr.
Legault’s travels are represented with colorful tacks stuck in every country
and state visited, creating quite a display. This man takes his summers
seriously: seeing the world.
After graduating from college, Mr.
Legault moved to Las Vegas with a friend. But even in the Entertainment Capital
of the World, there wasn’t enough excitement. And in a moment of freedom, of
living life without ties, without regret, Brett decided, with a spin of a
globe, to become a traveler. “We were just sitting around, shooting the breeze,
and I started spinning the globe…and I was looking at all the places I hadn’t
been yet. My finger stopped on London…so I went.”
Thus began a life of bartending in
London, and traveling on short one to two week trips around the continent. On
any given day Legault could be in Thailand, or Ireland. Some weeks, he went to
France and others Amsterdam. For four years, Mr. Legault lived as a traveler.
After being asked for one specific experience that he held above others, he
told of a weekend trip to Ireland. “I met ‘Uncle Bob’ while in a bar one night.
He was a retired cop. We met and he basically took me under his wing, showing
me all the places that tourists never see. I was even invited to meet his
family and friends. In that weekend I learned a lot about Ireland in a
citizen’s perspective, rather than a tourist’s.” His face lightened as he
thought back on the old man, and then his eyes grew wide as he recalled another
memory. On the other side of the world, he was snorkeling the Great Barrier
Reef, when he came across a shark. As it swam by, he said, “I realized how much
life has to offer, and how many experiences are out there if you just let
yourself find them.” Out of all his travels, he tells me that New Zealand most
complemented his personality. “It’s just the epitome of nice being nice.
They’re just amazing people with strong morals.”
With so many stories kept hidden in
the colorful tacks, it’s amazing that the traveler has found his way back home.
But he has the memories, and continues to make them. “Iceland is pretty high up
on my list of places to go next,” he says with a glint of excitement in his
eye. I wouldn’t doubt his intentions either. For this man, another summer means
another tack in the map, and another memory filling his mind.