Once upon a time, I went to a party and a wedding broke out. Initially it seemed like a very swish little cocktail party complete with swanky catering, flowers and a bar tender but something was up, big time. When the bride-to-be who had earlier been wearing a serious LBD shocked us all by suddenly appearing in a white wedding gown you could feel the oxygen being sucked out of the room. WTF? As she stood elegantly at the railing of the loft above us a curious hush settled over the crowd below. Then she declared with great confidence “When you know you want to be with someone for the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start right now”. And they proceeded to get hitched. Personally, I suspect their parents were pissed.
Now, the marriage didn’t last (neither did my first, we all get a mulligan) so this may actually turn out to be a cautionary tale about being too impulsive, but the fact remains, sometimes you just have to get on up. That’s why, instead of departing as scheduled at the end of August, we are getting out of Dodge sooner than later. This Thursday we fly to Paris to begin our year long travel adventure. Eeeeek! …and Yaaaaaay!
Eeeek because I’m scared. Scared of a lot of things:
1 – Scared I’ll miss our son Holden and all of his shenanigans and young life progress over the year. What if he needs me and I’m too far away? What if I need him? He’s 21, working and a young man totally able to look after himself. Still, those mom-roots run deep. Call it reverse empty nesting. Aren’t the kids supposed to be the ones to leave?
2 – I’m scared of the unknown. This one is more of a nervous low-grade anxiety that wakes me up in the not yet light with thoughts of “what if we can’t find each other in a market in Morocco” or “say Lyla gets bitten by a rabid dog in Istanbul and she starts to foam at the mouth?” You know, those crazy middle of the night thoughts that sit on your chest like a bag of rocks until the reassuring light of day chases them out of your bedroom?
3 – I’m scared I’ll get fat…again. Hello, vanity my old friend. There is a serious dread of croissant + baguette + fromage + wine = 20lbs. Lately I’ve been getting in fairly good shape (for me at 49). What if all of that goes out the window because we left our green smoothie makin’ Vita-Mix at home and are living on delicacies and sitting on our asses in cafes all day?
4 – I’m also deeply concerned that either of us driving in Europe may trigger a serious breach in our wedding vows based on overuse of profanity from the passenger seat. He’s too fast, I’m too slow. Could be a deal breaker.
My husband calls these little bouts of crazy ‘speed wobbles’. When things are going along too smoothly and life is but a dream I have been known to poke a tiny hole in the balloon just to keep things interesting. The glorious freedom I was asking for, pining for is here and this occasionally freaks the shit out of me.
And Yay!! Yay because we’ve peeled away all of the layers that have been containing our fabulous Vancouver life until there’s nothing left but the three of us and some luggage standing at the curb. No jobs, commitments or obligations. No cable, dog or school. No tax returns or cel phone contracts. Snip, snip, snip those clinging vines that tether us here. To home. We’ve said goodbye to many sweet friends and dear family who make our lives here so meaningful and fun. We’ve been gathering, feasting, cheersing and toasting. There has been a lot of planning, imagining, organizing, packing, scheming and frankly, (on my part) obsessing.
Most of the controllable details seem to be in order. The house is packed up and rented. Mocha our sweet yet anxious German Short Haired Pointer has been delivered to the loving arms of Auntie Janet’s dog haven and the cars have been returned the dealer. Enough of this waiting around. It’s been the week before Christmas for the last two months! I wonder if other people get exited when their birthday is coming up sooner than their yogurt expires? That’s the feeling. It’s kind of like the moment your finger nails have been too long for too long and you can’t possibly go one more second without trimming them even though you’re already in bed so you get up and trudge to the bathroom in the dark to find the clippers. Thanks again ADD.
Yay because we seem to be creating a bit of a theme. Our entire trip mantra has become a ‘follow your nose and wing it’ concept, so why not begin on an impulse? We have dear friends who happen to be holidaying in France right now and we thought it would be cool to spend a day with them. Our first in France, their last. Why? Because we can. That’s what freedom is all about.
Rick Steves may be your home-boy and Fodor’s travel chat sites may be your favourite iPad bedtime stories (I adore them too) but we are trying not to plan ahead. Fortunately we don’t have to because we have the luxury of time. The control freak in me is jumping up and down in the back of the classroom with her hand up begging for attention but I’m ignoring her. Not planning is hard. We do have a few items on the agenda, like a French language school in October, but we really are going to attempt to chart our course based on personal recommendations rather than guide books and tourist pamphlets.
This idea was a loose one at first but began gathering steam when we realize that so many of our favourite places in B.C. are not in guide books or listed on travel websites. They are just funky, out of the way, unique, often non-commercial places with no glitz or marketing campaign dollars. How would you know to take that hiking trail or swim at that secluded little beach or enjoy the best chocolate chip cookie in the world unless someone, usually a local someone, filled you in? For a two week holiday I would typically have every nano-second booked up with the latest and greatest tours and attractions. This is different. We’ll attempt to use feelings and personal connections as our compass. Can you tell us about the best restaurant around here? Where do you go for a long weekend? What do you do for fun? Do you have a friend who could loan us some bikes or paddle boards or snorkels per favore?
So we are out of here. Thank you so very much for all of your good wishes of safe travels, gifts, notes, emails, texts and hugs. Thank you for caring enough to follow along on this journey. We will probably make some big mistakes and find a few dead ends but that’s part of the deal.
When you want your life to be free and full of exploration, discovery and adventure … you want that adventure to start right now.