The self that I am coming into?
I am chatting up more wait staff and baristas— this morning at the Target Starbucks, I noticed that Oprah has a chai but not a coffee and we, the barista and I, bantered.
I notice that I am grumpy. It’s not the grumpy part that is notable but the noticing.
I am feeling oppressed about falling behind, way behind, responding to email and I actually realized that all I have to do is to answer a bunch of emails to feel better.
A code appeared just today on the dashboard of my car and I noticed it and called the folks who service the car. I remembered that it was not there yesterday and I acted in a timely manner.
I want to buy show tickets for next fall and see touring musicals.
There is also the travel thing. In the last few years, I have insisted that I wanted to travel far and yet have not done it. Yes, we did travel to Mexico last summer but I corralled Cheshire and another young friend to go with Julia and I. Cheshire is fluent in Spanish and so was an excellent buffer between me and any semblance of un-touristy Mexico. We went to a rather touristy part of Mexico. It was a beach vacation, not the exploration vacations that I most enjoy. And so, Mexico almost doesn’t count as traveling far.
And now, today, and for this whole week, I’ve begun planning a trip to Italy.
Backstory: Actually, more than one backstory: David and I spent months living in Italy before getting pregnant with Cheshire. We loved it. It was a long held dream come true. We lived outside of Rome in Frascati. David wrote his first novel, the one that was never published, and I found a jazz club to sing in (and what was wanted was the Gershwin songbook and Cole Porter standards which was very lovely). We had savings, a little writing grant and the little bit of money that singing brought in. We stretched what we had and ate glorious food, traveled north and south, saw wonderful theater, made a few lovely friends and I explored Rome, alone many days, with three guide books as company. It was years before the internet and so letters and 3 phone calls were our only connection with ‘back home.’ There were times of homesickness when I realized that I was sick for a home that I had finally found with a family that I had chosen. We conceived OF Cheshire, although the child we conceived I would eventually loose. We also first talked of leaving the theater which at the time seemed more bitter than sweet but now I view as both. Italy was cutting the ties with what came before and planting seeds, some very concrete of what would come.
We imagined and shaped so much walking the grounds of the Villa Aldobrandini. And we always meant to go back. And we never did.
So there is the issue of going back to reclaim the vistas that I love. A place that could never be home but a place that burrowed deep into my heart. I feel so pulled to go back and at the same time, somewhat dreading meeting the ghosts— the we walked heres and ate theres and talked about every eventuality except what finally happened.
And of course, the only way to banish ghosts is to formally pay them a visit, to abide with them for awhile and see if they need anything from me. And then to let go and stand facing the wind.
And backstory two: Julia has truly grown to be a very good traveller. We have our rituals and our schedules when we travel—a chart of work to be done, usually for some prize. The work—mostly math and reading—seems to anchor her behavior and it is never a bad thing for Julia to continue with what she is learning. She brings a comfort toy—Lizzy the dinosaur, Ivy the American Girl Doll or the newest addition Twilight Sparkle, the pony— just one and also keeps up her journal. On our trip to Canada, for the first time, Julia was responsible for her own roller bag. I am proud that she is so able to deal with the vagaries of travel with relative ease.
However, Julia is not a good travel companion. She cannot compare and contrast. Her conversational skills are very limited and there is much more of a chance that she will talk about her Dragons of Fire book and completely ignore what we saw in the Uffizi. And that’s not awful. Indeed, I am very happy she wants to talk about what she is reading but I am afraid that I will sorely miss the interaction with a true companion. Running this over and over in my head, I come to wonder if the interaction is almost as important as the travel itself.
A number of months ago, and way before I came to the conclusion of wanting needing an attentive travel companion, two friends asked if Julia and I wanted to take two different trips with them and their progeny this year. I jumped at both offers and started travel dreaming even though the destinations were not necessarily on the top of a list that I might imagine. In truth, there are very few places that I would not consider traveling to and both of these were grand opportunities. My budget would have been really stretched if they had both come off but that is a moot point since neither worked out. My enthusiasm for travel with friends did not go unobserved. It is what I’ve hoped for and wanted to do and it has been very hard to make a reality.
So these are the reasons. These are what has stopped me from making plans and going places. I sat on the cushion about both reasons. I scribbled and wondered and really, it all comes down to fear. Some fear that is completely irrational and almost impossible to articulate. Am I scared that without another’s comment about a lovely glass of wine, the wine will lose some of its sweetness? Um, or dryness? Am I afraid that the art will fade into monotones, the gondolier will be flat and the Italian hills will flatten? Or is it more likely that there are still cells in my body that insist on having the travel companion of my youth or nothing at all?
And I do want to go to Italy. I have a friend in Turin and the possibility of seeing the family we visited in Canada in Luca. Would that be enough? I might treat myself to a rental car for part of the time. I have always wanted to visit those places in-between train stops and be able to gaze at vistas of my choosing. And I recall that there was a time that I believed I wanted to travel alone. Who would I be talking to if I was traveling alone? Would I be more or less likely to be planning and going if I was alone? And what delights will there be in finding Italian dinosaurs and something magical that Julia can fall in love with? Can I? Have I just talked myself into a journey?