I just returned from Albuquerque. New Mexico. A cousin was being bat mizvahed. I brought my mother and my two oldest daughters joined us for the weekend as well.
I am not a good traveler. I have always yearned to perceived as one. Good travelers are interesting. Adventurous. Most important, good travelers are sophisticated, not anxious.
Growing up, travel was an expensive luxury. A trip to Europe was the height of sophistication. I wanted to sit around and groan sympathetically when friends reminisced about long lines at customs. Or smile knowingly when someone described buttery, fresh croissants in the Maret.
At 26 I took my first trip to Europe. After returning, I finally had my own stories to share. To ensure my daughters didn’t suffer a similar fate, my ex and I took them to abroad when they were ten, eight, and four, .
For decades I was a very anxious traveler. As a trip neared, it became difficult for me to concentrate on little else. With the web as co-conspirator, I’d pore over sites identifying what stylish men of my comport were wearing. I’d visit travel websites for efficient packing tips, the latest must-have apps. And then I’d focus on dining, identifying not just the best restaurants, but local favorites, the holes in walls where one gets a true taste of the city.
The desire to control every aspect of traveling has mellowed over age. I’ve come to appreciate being prepared does not a good traveler make. Being prepared helps, but doesn’t assuage the anxiety traveling triggers. Learning to accept, rather than succumb to the anxiety is now my goal, though I still find great restaurants.
I flew with my mother to Albuquerque. Traveling with her forces me to radically revise my expectations. There will be checked baggage. Bad. There will be a wheelchair whose pilot efficiently whisks us through security and to the gate. Good. There will be pre-boarding. Very good. There will be my mother striking up conversations with anyone within shouting distance. When I was younger it would embarrass me but now I just shrug.
In Albuquerque, my mother apologetically announced she forgot something and asked if we could go to a Target or Walmart. Taking a mindful pause, I laughed to myself over the predictability of the moment and said, “of course.” She always forgets something.
After we checked in to the hotel, I unpacked. I like to transfer everything out of my suitcase. I forgot my Dopp kit, including my razor, toothbrush, and most important, meds. I smiled and groaned, reminded of my psychic inheritance.
Like both my parents, no matter how carefully I plan I usually forget something. Either coming or going. Usually coming. When I leave a hotel I quell my anxiety enough to thorough double-check my room. When younger, I inevitably left something, every time.
I had quality time with my daughters that went well for the most part. I am learning that authenticity doesn’t mean always saying what is on my mind. Authenticity for me is being cognizant of how I’m feeling in the moment. There were a couple times I didn’t share my feelings. But those were choices I consciously made. Let the learning continue!
Thanks for listening Stay in touch. Connect.
P.S. Any excuse for a clip from Say Anything