I’ve loved to travel as far back as I can remember. Buried in the hazy fog of childhood is the memory of curling up in the backseat of my grandma’s car, my head resting on a 1970’s print pink-daisy pillowcase, driving to Disneyland. I was four. There were road trips all the time, and I spent countless days at northern California campgrounds and wilderness areas while my dad fished trout in frozen lakes and tracked deer in volcanic forests.
My first airplane trip I remember was in seventh grade, on a study tour of England, Scotland and Wales. I was so excited to fly away, not only did I not sleep the night before, but I didn’t sleep the entire plane trip over the pole and down into London. That trip awakened something is me that has never gone dormant- two and a half weeks touring around Britain with only students and a few chaperones awakened not only a desire to see the world, but the awareness that I was not afraid to do so. Not only was I not afraid to hop a plane and go somewhere relatively alone, but I loved it.
As I got older, I never hesitated to jump in the car and take a road trip- either with friends or alone. At sixteen, in my first car, I drove all over the west. While I spent almost all of my life in one house growing up, once I left home, I lived up and down the west coast, from Seattle to Santa Cruz. One summer, I got on the back of a Harley Davidson and rode all the way to South Dakota. In my twenties, I took a job that allowed me to live in California, and commute to Seattle each week. I’d jump a flight to Phoenix to catch a concert with my cousin, and then take off to Palm Springs for the week with friends.
My penultimate job came in my mid-twenties when the company I worked for in Palo Alto set me up to travel to trade shows in Germany. I took a German class at the local college, bought German for Dummies, and grabbed a Lufthansa flight in San Francisco. I would work for a week, then take another two weeks to hop around Germany and Austria. Those are some of the single happiest memories of my life- meeting people as I went, no itinerary, going wherever I felt like any given day.
Of course my life is constructed in a way that no longer allows such unmitigated freedom- and yet, the wanderlust remains. The seeds have been quiet for a long time while I nurtured the babies that came, but now, as they get older, I can feel the seeds stirring inside, and I can see exposing my children to the world in a fearless way might be a gift I can give them.
Even now, a single grad-student mama, I will drop everything for an adventure. I hope this is something I can parlay into a love of life for my children- because it’s simply in my blood. Wanderlust…