Unlike the other “On The Map” stories on BTDT, this one is from a completely different perspective. I am not a traveler but a hardworking, middle-aged mother, grandmother, wife and business woman who was very much in need of a vacation and time away from my realities of everyday living. I know travelers don’t go on vacation. They leave with the intent of exploring different places around the globe, experiencing cultures outside their own comfort zones and immersing themselves among the people they meet. For me, I left New Jersey to travel to San Diego, a far 3,000 miles away from my comfort zone to experience family and the new lives they have begun on the Pacific Coast.
With a plane ticket from my dear brother and his family, it was not without angst and a small miracle that I actually got on my outbound flight to San Diego. Over the years and as I have become older, leaving home and my own family behind is extremely difficult for me. I am the center nucleus and lifeline of everyone in my daily existence; hubby, daughter, son, grandson, 2 dogs, father, stepmom and elder auntie. I love spoiling each and every one of them, putting them before myself always. After days, months and years of selfless acts of love for them, I realize that I too need to get away from the daily routines of life to step back to breathe and recharge for myself. Without doing this every, not so often, I begin to lose myself and why I love the life that I have created for my family and myself in the first place. Stepping back to try and see the ‘helicopter’ view of my life is extremely difficult to do. Being away from my daily life has enabled me to reflect on each relationship I have with each member of my cherished family and recharge enough to go home and continue doing what I have always done and love to do – being a loving caretaker to all those I left behind seven days ago. There is never going to be enough time for me to totally catch up on my sleep, eat and exercise the way I ‘should’ or pursue my extracurricular hobbies and interests because if I had that time, there would be no time left for the very special people in my life.
The first 4-5 days were literally what I would call ‘detox’ time from home. I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone, how are they getting along without me and which phone call was going to be the one that would make me have to get on a plane to go home earlier. I cried every day, probably three times a day, if not more. I was emotional, weak and still, even though my feet had touched the ground in San Diego, my mind and heart were still at home. Each phone call was difficult for both ends of the phone line, but somehow, as each day went by, it did get easier. With the help of my brother’s family and the support of my family in NJ, I was able to relax and let go of the ‘guilt’ of not being at home. I immersed myself in my brothers beautiful family, enjoyed one on one time with my amazing nieces, reconnected the unbreakable bond with my dear baby brother and got to know and understand my sister in law so much more than I ever had. For this short time, I was taken care of, I was fed without having to cook it and I was loved just as much as if I were home in NJ.
As I experienced each place I was brought to each day, it made me realize how much life is outside the four walls of my comforts of my home. Standing at the edge of some very deep cliffs and listening to the waves hitting the rocks along the shore, I felt like I could breathe again. Taking in the magnificent views of the ocean every day and watching a stunning sunset after the first day there, I could feel why travelers, like all of you ‘On the Map’ do what you do. Wow, to live freely, travel to your hearts content and experience the magnificent unknown lands of the world. For me, a short trip to San Diego is just about all that I can experience at this time of my life for now, but it makes me wonder where else in the world I might be able to get to in the future. Having so many responsibilities in life doesn’t afford me to do this as easily as it may be for the younger generation. All I can say is DO IT, DO IT, DO IT…. There is so much life to live – live it differently, do it differently but do it with all your heart and soul. Life and its responsibilities will always be there in between your adventures.
As a mother of a traveling son, I encourage him to pursue his dreams and make it happen. If you want it that bad, you can do it. I always worry for his safety and pray every minute he is away that he will make the right choices and come home to me in one piece. I trust him to take care of himself like I would have, feed his soul with culture and his belly with healthy nourishing foods. I encourage the other parents of traveling children or your children who have expressed a desire to travel – let them, encourage them to work hard to make it possible for their dreams, not yours, to come true. One trip and they will be a grown up, different, but improved version of the young man or woman you said goodbye to at the airport. We, as parents, raise our children to ultimately leave us with the hope that we have provided them with the values and tools of life to take them into their adult lives. Home is always home – the safe haven, the comforting place to return to…even for me. He will always come back and every time he does, I wait with open arms.
Now, as I write my ‘On the Map’ story in seat 11F, I am 4 hours away from reconnecting to my reality once again. I will be back to manage all the daily responsibilities that I have and love the family that is waiting so very eagerly for me to return. But this time, my head is clearer, I feel strong again, ready to take it all on again. I just won’t wait as long to disconnect from reality again and will add myself into the mix as one of the people that needs to be cared for as well. Taking the time to be away from home not only helped me, but also gave those I left home a chance to experience daily life without me.
And guess what…they all lived – LOL! Maybe not as happily as I would have hoped, but they survived. And so did I.