I can count the number of trips I took with my parents on one hand. Keep in mind that I lived at home until I was 24. We took three beach trips and several walking tours of historic battlefields. We visited Colonial Williamsburg as part of one war zone vacation, and I got to spend a few hours at Busch Gardens. Other than that, we went to Camden Park and stayed in a Holiday Inn near Huntington.
I’m serious. Those are the only excursions recorded in my travel diary from 1973 – 1997.
Why? I assume there were a variety of variables starting with my parents’ contentment to stay at home. Second, my mother hated to be in a car for more than a few hours at a time. This is due in part to my father being on diuretics to manage hypertension, which meant we had to find a rest stop (or a large oak tree) every 45 minutes. Third, we had a house full of animals and no one to care for them while we were away. Fourth, vacations were expensive in my parents’ eyes, and all I cared about was the hotel pool. So, they joined Greenbrier Pool, which became my vacation for six summers straight.
How sad and pathetic.
Whatever their reasons — from the expense to the indifference — we’ve chosen to lead a different existence. My daughters will wonder where home is if I have anything to do with it. For the past two years, I haven’t been able to travel very far because I was caring for an ailing aunt. Sadly, she passed away on March 3rd, but I’ve been climbing the walls to get out of town ever since.
Ava and Maryn have gotten to ages that make holiday and birthday presents a bit of a shopping challenge. So, we’ve decided to start giving them getaways instead of gifts.We have a philosophy in our house that as long as there is breath in our weary bodies (and dual incomes), we will retreat to the beach for “Do Nothing Week.” But, spring breaks and long weekends require new experiences in new territories. It’s not as if we’re touring London on a double-decker bus, but we’re in the car hitting attractions that will entertain and educate all of us. I don’t want my daughters’ travels to consist of college tours.
Where are we going? Well, we’re city hoppers, it seems. Columbus and Cleveland; Lexington and Louisville; Charlotte and Raleigh; Pittsburgh and Philadelphia…the list goes on. We want to see Boston and New York again now that the girls are old enough to keep up. This past week at the Columbus Zoo, we were chased by a thousand parents pulling Red Flyer wagons; their children stuffed into them like pimentos in green olives. Mike and I exchanged looks of relief: Hands-free at last! Hands-free at last! Thank God Almighty! We’re hands-free at last!
Aside from our family trips, Mike and I are anxious to start taking bounce-back weekends for ourselves again. We need this and we deserve it. I bought concert tickets to see the Eagles this July, tacking on an Indians baseball game the night before. (Paul McCartney is touring this summer, and if I have to drive to Memphis to see him, so be it. I’ll swing over to say hello to Elvis while I’m in town.) No, it’s not the Louvre, but it’s time together in fun places that we’ll remember for years to come.
And that’s the point: There aren’t many more years to come with our kids. The last decade has gone by so quickly that I need a map to find out where it went. We want our girls to try new things — to gain new perspectives and explore new opportunities; to develop new tastes and preferences. We want them to see that there’s a world outside of Charleston. I didn’t know this until I got my first job and had to travel to St. Louis for a business trip. I’ve never been so scared (or excited) in my entire life. I’ve been hopping on planes and trains ever since.
As Dorothy Gale reminds us, there’s no place like home. But it’s also good for our children to know when they’re not in Kansas anymore.