How many of you are traveling this Memorial Day holiday weekend? To a neighbor’s house for a (soggy) barbeque? Maybe to nearby cities to see those friends and family members that you don’t see as often? Or perhaps you are taking a longer trip, to one of the bigger cities in the Midwest (Chicago, Omaha, Milwaukee…)? Or…let’s go out on a limb here and ask, is anyone reading this post from somewhere even farther this Memorial Day Weekend? Did you take the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disney? Are your kids enjoying their first plane ride, their first step in the ocean?
For me and my family, with the exception of an exciting (read: exhausting) trip to WalMart, the entire weekend was spent in the confines of our home. Granted, we did have our entire family over to the house for my son’s third birthday party, and fun was had by all. However, it has been raining the entire weekend. No sunshine, no picnics, no walks to the park. Instead, I have been spending a little bit too much time on my smart phone, AKA Facebook, and this has caused a bad case of what I like to call “want-to-travel-itis”. As a person who has (pre-mommyhood) traveled to many cities, many countries, and even to four different continents, the travel bug creeps in on me more than I’d like to admit. This weekend, it has hit me hard. A good friend from high school announced two weeks ago that she was embarking on a hostel-staying, memory-making solo trip through Europe. Then, my night student announced that she wouldn’t be in class this week because she and her mother are leaving for Barcelona. And then, to top it all off, my colleague from grad school checks in last night on Facebook: Spain. That makes three of my Facebook friends currently in Spain (if any more of you are in Spain, just don’t even tell me!).
Of all the places I have traveled, Spain holds a particularly special place in my heart. I lived there for 6 months during my last semester of college, and had the time of my life. I studied there, worked there, traveled every weekend, and most importantly, met some lifelong friends there. My “house brother” ( I lived with a host family), for example, has become one of my closest and dearest friends in the whole world. Unfortunately, I did not consider the consequences of having friends who live halfway across the world: it’s really hard to visit. After moving back to the States in 2006, Alvaro made the trip from Spain to Chicago, to visit me and another friend. It was so much fun, showing him what life is like in the U.S. and introducing him to my own family. A year after that, Alvaro and his friend flew to Los Angeles, and took a once-in-a-lifetime trip across the good ol’ USA, stopping in Las Vegas and then finishing in New York City. At that time, I was in the midst of planning my wedding, starting graduate school, and moving (yet again!), but nothing would stop me from getting on that plane to New York. I will never regret that whirlwind trip: visiting all five boroughs in one afternoon, riding the ferry to Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty, and staying in a hotel just two blocks from Times Square. (As an added bonus, I took the subway and went to the actual Serendipity restaurant, from the movie, and visited three more long-distance friends of mine!)
That trip to New York, and three months later my honeymoon to Jamaica, were my last big trips before I began a whole new kind of journey: motherhood. To say that I don’t miss hopping on a plane and visiting friends and new places would be a lie. But I can also safely say that this journey I’m on currently, this journey with three children under five years old in my house while I attempt to “work from home” and stay ahead of the laundry, is a journey that I would not trade for any plane ticket, cruise ship, or even space travel. Ever.
In fact, my travels have not ended with motherhood; they have only just begun. Last week, I jumped on Buzz Lightyear’s spaceship and we traveled “to infinity and beyond”, capes and all. Sometimes, we pull all of the orange and brown pillows off of our living room couch and throw them on the floor, and we have officially traveled to a very active volcano (be careful not to touch the orange pillows, they are fire!). We travel in our books, in our bedtime stories (my favorites are the ones told by the littlest voices in the house), and we travel when I pull out the globe and show them exactly where their “Uncle Alvaro” lives and tell them about when Mommy lived there and walked the streets of Sevilla every day. And, every once in a while, we watch the Muppets movie and I laugh when those Muppets travel “by map”. Oh, if only I could pull out a map, stand on it, and end up on those streets again. If I could load up the kids in my van, drive into the map, and arrive at Uncle Alvaro’s door for him to meet his nephews and his little niece. Oh, if only.
So today, no matter where you are or how long you traveled to get there, I hope that you are enjoying time with the ones you love and who love you back. Because in the end, that’s all that matters in this big wide world. And for me, all of that can be found in my destination for this weekend: my own home.
Did any of you make any big travels this weekend? How far did you go, and who did you go to see? Are you a travel-junkie like me, or would you rather stay at home?