Traveling is my drug of choice. I love to be en route, suitcase at my side, tickets in hand. I’m happy to travel short or long distances, with friends or family or all by myself. It doesn’t matter, I just like to be in the midst of a voyage. Ramping up for the trip is another story – De-facto will attest to the fact that I am a complete grump while in preparation. But once I’ve locked the door behind me, and the adventure is ahead, I’m a happy traveler.
I remember as a child, we’d get dressed up to go on a trip. Our annual spring visits to Florida to see my grandparents meant putting on our best clothes. It was a big deal, a very sophisticated thing, to be at an airport about to board a plane. This is why I have never worn a track-suit on an airplane, and never will.
I once had a dream-job that permitted me to travel to just about every European capital. I flew business class and stayed in comfortable hotels. Locals on the ground, intent to impress, treated me well. I wasn’t a tourist, but I wasn’t a regular in-and-out-of-town business traveler. I was something in between and it suited me perfectly.
Flying was nearly effortless then, in the days before security measures force us to remove belts and shoes and experience intimate strip searches. I’ve always been partial to train travel anyway, and I choose this whenever the option exists. Put me on a train, speeding through country landscapes and swaying in the backdoor of every city en route, this is my state of bliss.
De-facto loves traveling as much as I do. When he was in his late twenties, he quit his job and took a year to travel around the world. I was living in Hong Kong at the time and his mother, who I knew first, told him to look me up. He took down my name and number, but never called. I wasn’t in a very good state-of-mind at the time, so it’s just as well. Years later, the night we met, when he heard my name he said, “Oh that’s you? Your name is in my journal.” This was enough to start falling in love with him: He kept a journal and my name was already in it. (And he loved to travel.)
The girls travel like fish in water. Short-pants took her first steps – not just the stumbling ones, but the six or seven or eight steps in succession that constitute walking – in the Charles de Gaulle airport while we waited to board a plane to Johannesburg. Buddy-roo has traveled to South Africa as well, and she was conceived in Mexico while her sister took a nap in that ever-so-portable pack-n-play. They’ve both traveled to Cambodia and to other less exotic but equally interesting destinations in Europe and the United States. They obtained their passports at the age of one month; already they’ve had to renew.
I think if we’ve done anything right by these girls, it’s giving them a second fluent language and then making sure they aren’t at all afraid to get on a train or plane and go somewhere new. It’s in their blood now, too.
But like any drug, too much can be toxic. I might have overdosed on travel in 2010. I flew over the Atlantic twelve times, half of those flights to the west coast. I went the other direction, too, a long haul to India and while there enjoyed (if you can say that) a few harrowing automobile rides that equal any of my crazier youthful travel adventures. I trained and planed around Europe and through the Chunnel. I traveled somewhere every month, and often twice in a month. I wore out two suitcases and counted a lot of miles. But I depleted my stamina for travel. The last trip was a rough one, I just wanted to stay home. This is unusual for me.
That would explain why De-facto and I have failed to organize any kind of a trip for this upcoming holiday. Our dream of several days trolling tapas bars in San Sebastian is still alive, but neither one of us has succeeded in executing any of the details to make it happen. A friend sends SMS messages about snow and skiing and a place to stay in Switzerland, enticing us to get some winter exercise. We haven’t said no, we just haven’t booked a ticket. I don’t want to stay at home in Paris next week, too many consecutive days of the girls on top of each other with nothing to do is a brutal thought. But I’m too fatigued by the travel of the last year to do anything about it. My own pillow feels like too much like a luxury.
Deep inhale. This is certainly temporary. I know if I’m stationary too long the feet get itchy. I need to move and be on the move, it’s hereditary. My mother and her mother were fantastic travelers. Their motto: Have grip will travel. That looks to be my mantra again in 2011. Already I’m scheduled to be in Florida in January, and – get this – in New Zealand in March. That’s going to be a long haul trip, the number of hours in flight dehydrates me just thinking about it. But you can count on this: I don’t care how long it is, I won’t be wearing a track suit.