Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Born Traveler

My red suitcase has for the past few months been in various states of being packed or unpacked, a marker of  my comings and goings.  Symbolic of what I've been up to this year. It seems that I would just get home, catch up on the house, bills, pets and laundry, and then begin preparing for the next excursion. I've had trips that were fun and relaxing and included getting back in touch. I've had moments that were life changing and those laced with the heart-achingly sweet pride and love I feel as a parent. A year in transition.......with a couple of major incidents stumbling over suitcases stranded in the hallway to prove it.

I chatted with my dad recently about the places each of us either has been or want to go, and something he said stuck in my brain. "I guess I'm a born traveler." I guess he is. Literally. His mother gave birth to him in Boston Harbor on a ship that had just crossed the Atlantic. Growing up I listened to tales of where he had been before, during and after WWII. How he had moved around, changing locations for school or a job or an adventure. He often traveled for work and when he arrived home I hoped both for the small pouch of peanuts he had saved from the airplane and the stories he invariably brought back with him. I remember the excitement of going to the airport with my mom to pick him up or if it was too late, waiting at home, listening for them to rustle through the back door.

My mom has had her share of travels and interesting stories as well.  She moved away from home to attend college and then from Canada to the United States to marry her love. I vividly remember the day she became a US citizen. Several times she was responsible for packing and unpacking our family when my dad needed to move for his job and her creativity made it fun and interesting. Growing up we lived in a variety of western towns, cities and states. Vacations were car trips that took us to campgrounds, ghost towns, national parks, relatives homes and the occasional resort. A few times my mom loaded us into the station wagon so we could spend some time where my dad needed to be working. They both taught their children to be good travelers and I grew up knowing the value of scenery passing by a car window and exploring it when we got out. I noticed plants, animals, birds, bugs and terrain from the desert to the mountains, anticipating what was beyond the curve in the road. It fueled my daydreams and my future plans.

Later on the two of them scheduled 'dream trips' that took them to Europe, to Egypt, to tropical places and places in the US they hadn't yet seen. Trips that satisfied their love of history and photography and curiosity. But the greatest percentage of their travel was via car. By themselves or with each other they covered the miles between each rest stop, restaurant, town or pay phone and until very recently without the option of a cell phone......and never with GPS to help them out. There were two day drives to Saskatchewan, trips to visit their kids and trips to the beach.

My parents were both travelers and there isn't a day that I don't feel fortunate that they were. I'm guessing they still have no idea what an impact this made on me. How it shaped my own personal life. But it did......in an amazing way and I'm thankful. They passed on a desire to learn and feel capable no matter where I was. They bestowed the gift of taking notice. Of embracing and appreciating a journey. I grew up knowing that if current plans were taking longer than expected or if I ended up on a course I hadn't anticipated, that I would eventually find what I was supposed to find. Arrive where I was supposed to arrive. Before cell phones and GPS I carried their experiences with me as navigation devices.

This photo was taken my my sister, Michele.
When I moved away to college I did so with confidence. When my husband and I crossed the country with two babies in my belly and then back again with two bouncing boys, I did so knowing that my mother had done something similar many times over. I've traveled between apartments, houses and cities. Moved around inside of friendships and occasionally back out again if they weren't the best ones for me. Traveled the intricate, unpredictable and rewarding highways of marriage and parenthood with commitment. I admit that I tend to approach life by jumping in with both feet, but if doubt sets in I can remember why I chose that road in the first place. I've seen them do it many times before.

Today one of my sons will travel to the opposite coast. He'll drive for a couple of hours to an airport, board an evening plane and try to catch some sleep between connecting flights. He'll taxi to a friend's apartment, change into fresh clothes, find his way to a cup of coffee and hope that winter storms don't throw a wrench into all of it. By mid morning he'll be meeting with people he doesn't know and talking to them about his future plans.
Like his grandpa of the same name, he's a born traveler. He has the curiosity and desire to move around in new places. The creativity he brings with him echos that of my mom. He's jumped into life with both feet, put himself out there and taken notice. I hope that the experiences of his parents, his grandparents and great grandparents continue to serve him well. He appears to have inherited the internal instruments that will give him the ability and confidence to get where he needs to go. Literally.
I would love to hear what people or travels have made a difference in your life too. So please share and tell and leave a comment below......So many interesting stories!


Kim Carey said...

I love this story Margaret...we grew up without a lot of traveling money but I spent many years in the back of a camper...one time when I was about 14 we road tripped to Alabama to see my cousin get married....I remember my grandma telling me to wake up as I had just slept through Kentucky and Virginia...she said you never know when you will see this country again...she was right 30 some years later and Ive never been back to either state...I also remember Johns grandmother telling us to always prioritize travel as seeing the world is what life is about and I feel we have done that...my kids have been to some wonderful and exotic places and I am glad that I have given them the travel bug.

thisfriendlyvillage said...

Thanks for sharing that Kim. I agree with John grandmother that seeing the world is what life is all about! I've never been sorry that we haven chosen to spend our time that way. But the car trips....love them most!!

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