I miss the days of adventure. Heading off into the unknown, with a measured and calculated amount of surprise. A structure set for our time, knowing the game plan for where we were headed, originally with only a book to guide us, and later with kids, at least knowing where we would sleep each night, but much left to chance, the beauty of the universe unfolding to us. Who we would meet, the experiences we would have, unexpected gifts delivered to each destination.
The feeling when you booked a flight, heading off to the airport by the early light, knowing that you may arrive at your destination with only what was in your carry on...boarding the plane with tingles and vibrations up and down your body, the anticipation of an exciting voyage, a trek into new territory, landing dazed and overtired but alive in every sense.
Travel has no expectations. No measure of success, a period separate from the timeline of our lives. No pressure to be anything. Time standing still, waiting for rooms, trains, the hour to open, meals, the perfect wave, a bus to arrive, sunrises, sunsets, first kiss, last call. Exhilaration riding on the handlebars of a bicycle racing through the cool night on the cobbled streets of Belgium. Stepping off a gondola into the cool crisp air caressing the wildflowers gracing the steep slopes of the French Alps with disconcerting views advancing and retreating in the distance. Floating on a surfboard, a small speck in the crazy warm sea, the land so far off, a misty mirage of palm trees and sand vibrating in a hazy line on the horizon. Leaping off the cliff, a cool blue pool and a sweet musician to catch me. Choosing a tattoo to be ingrained on my hip as a permanent reminder of the girl I was, present, ready, aware, alert, open, and game for anything. Driving a tin can with sloppy steering over two 2x4’s high above alligator riddled rushing water, holding my breath, and leaving it to fate. Galloping bareback through the banana leaves and virgin forest even untouched by electricity and plumbing. The sweet caress of another, so vivid at the moment, only to become a fuzzy memory in years gone by. Surfing a yacht on hurricane waves with a steaming hot cup of South African tea in my hand and more faith in the captain than fear of the sea. So many hours waiting...nowhere to be, nothing to accomplish, a peanut butter and banana sandwich always readily available in the home I carried on my back.
Even with the children, our days of travel are filled with a wondrous sense of exploration. A joyous willingness to make the best of whatever circumstances await, to set aside our food preferences, imperfect sleeping conditions, overlooking the little aches from extra hours on the road, finding solutions for forgotten suitcases, enjoying the ride, and napping when convenient.
Sometimes I want to pack my bag and go. Leave the mortgage, ex-spouses, expectations, obligations. Tell my children we are free to do as we please. To follow the wind where it blows us. To leave behind any sense of who we were, or who the world expected us to be, no disappointment of how far we got or didn’t get in life, no regrets over decisions we made, only new experiences poised on the horizon. Limitless. Satisfying a craving to see whatever there is to see. Out there, in the bigger grander world, there are people to meet, relationships to create, food to try, art to experience, nature to explore, and connections to make. And yet, still, there are braces and educations to finance, retirement to accrue, lessons to learn, and viruses to avoid. The rat race waits for no one, Covid does not discriminate, and no child can be left behind. So soldier on my loves. Adventure will have to wait. But someday my children, Mama’s going to tell you it’s time, and we will board that plane bound for a new destination.