It's time to come clean. New year, new day, nothing to hide, no looking back, right?
I am a travel junkie.
Oh my, that feels better already.
My guess is you all knew this before I did. You were kind, didn't want to say something that might set me off and damage our friendship. You made sure you were not enabling my habit by sending me colorful postcards of places you'd been or condoning my behavior in any way. And you probably were content just to mention something to someone at the dinner table, something like, "She's at it again. I just don't kow what to say or when she'll be back."
So, let me lay my cards on this virtual table. I have a habit. Like other people wait for shoes to go on sale, I stalk airplane tickets. I have alerts sent to my E-mail box that let me know when to fly, when to buy, where to go next. When I buy the paper, I go to the business section first because business people fly more often than the rest of us. And you'd think that one important distinction, my not being a business person as opposed to others who are doing business, would stop me, but it doesn't. I have ways, protocols, tricks. I know how to get in and out clean at Expedia dot com. They know me there. I feel welcome. They remember where I've gone.
It started simply enough. You could say I wasn't even looking for a new habit. There was a woman who had an office next to mine about ten years ago. We had a long holiday weekend here where I work and she came in to say she and her husband were going to Barcelona for the weekend. "Really? Barcelona in Spain? And just for the weekend?" She said, "Yes," or "Si," I don't remember. They flew out on Thursday evening, arrived Friday morning, did lots of cool Barcelona things all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and flew back to JFK mid-afternoon on Monday. She would be back in the office on Tuesday. And she was not a business person.
That was it. I was transfixed. She had just given me the license to bug out to Barcelona any time I wanted. This one small conversation opened the door for me just to go to the nearest airport and travel. I started with a trip to Paris. I scouted airfares, picked the cheapest days to travel, rented an apartment from a friend, and took off. Then it was Seville. Same protocol. Scouting, picking, renting, taking off. After that, it was the Bahamas and Bermuda, lots more Paris and Spain, and then Morocco, Ireland, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay. God, I get high just thinking of this!
My best fix ever was on a Wednesday afternoon in October 2010. I was in my office, cruising around on Expedia just to keep body and soul together, and I found I could fly yes, to Barcelona, the next day for an impossibly low fare. (I kind of know all the current fares to my favorite places by heart). I bought it, I flew the next day, met up with my daughter who was living in Spain at the time, and we shopped, ate, saw Flamenco, ate more, walked on the beach, and I came home on Monday. No, make that I came home on Monday, exhilerated and happy.
I know a good bit of this comes from my not traveling anywhere much when I was a kid growing up nowhere near an airport. We went on two family trips together when I was in grade school, I went to Mexico once in high school, and I spent Thanksgiving in Toronto once in college. Other than that, I was in graduate school before I visited my fourth United States state and I was 30 when I applied for my first passport.
So, it's something I don't want to give up, this need to get out of town. I live in a pretty wonderful town too. Yet, for all of this travel, I don't feel like an expert in anything more than how to afford to do it, my not being a business person and all. But I know that my four trusting children, who drag along after me, know more about the world than I did in my many years of going to only three states.
So, I could say I do this for the kids, but this is a confession after all, so I will stick to the truth. I travel because it thrills me. I shun fear and pack my backpack and I take off. And then, I plot how I can do it again. I guess I just go from fix to fix.
You won't tell anyone else, will you?
Come, come, whoever you are.
Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn't matter.
Ours is not a caravan of despair.
Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times.
Come, yet again, come, come.
~Jelaluddin Rumi (1207-1273)
(Crossposted on Open Salon)