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Take the Trip

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It’s a tough decision, at the moment, whether to take a thirty-fourth stab at a quick nap or get to clicking away. I’m sitting on a flight headed to the left coast in a pseudo-spurt-of-the-moment jaunt to visit my husband as he completes a few weeks of training with his new company. I could certainly justify this jaunt with a quick “well, it’s business” disclaimer, but really … wouldn’t that be a stretch? Or wait, maybe not.

I did, after all, book the trip via one of my endless new “I’m a Travel Agent” tools while announcing to my sensible self that “This is a great (though expensive) learning opportunity.” I did, after all, fill half of my suitcase with custom-made company spirit wear, requested by my beloved husband to share with his fabulous new co-workers after accepting endless ooooh’s and aaaaah’s in reference to the pile of creative apparel he donned throughout that the first week.

So, yes, there may certainly be a blurry case for chalking this trip up to “Oh, it’s for business.

But really … I just decided to take the trip.

When Rich was scheduled for back-to-back weeks in Santa Clara, it seemed silly for him to fly back to Richmond in the middle. For my international friends … Santa Clara is in California while Richmond is in Virginia. These are not just opposite coasts, but they are opposite coasts in America, which means moving from one to the other is essentially a 12-hour commitment via a few hops among airports. It seemed silly as Rich would have left Santa Clara Friday evening, arrived back in Richmond Saturday morning, been quite cranky among his people for 36 hours, only to repack his suitcase before returning to the airport to rinse/wash/repeat before the sun peeked across the horizon on Monday morning.

It also seemed silly for me to throw caution to the financial wind, pack my own suitcase, drop some funds into our teenager’s bank account for groceries, and hop onto a plane to head west to spend a long weekend with my husband rather under the guise that it just made more sense and, hey, it’s business.

It seemed silly but I did it anyway.

Plus, the teenager is thrilled to have the house to himself, so there’s that.

If you knew me anywhere from age zero to fifty, you knew me as someone who represented the least spontaneous people on the planet. You knew me as one that monitored family spending much like I had to monitor my own single-girl spending back in my glorious Barbie townhouse era. You might also remember that, when it came to planning a trip, I was likely to start with a spreadsheet and then figure out the specifics later … like, for instance … the destination.

Who am I???

Who is this woman who bought a cross-country ticket on a whim, who will soon pick up a rental car by herself for the first time ever and who will then drive into the unknown while on the hunt for her husband’s hotel?

Okay, well yes, now that I see that in writing, I am developing a low-level feeling of, well, panic. Who am I?

When our eldest child left for college three years ago, it didn’t initially dawn on me that our family vacations would look quite different. Colleges have spring breaks, right? And summer ones, as well? I naively assumed that all spring breaks everywhere landed perfectly in sync – something I quickly discovered to be false. I felt a low-level panic then, too, as I tried to figure out just how we would coordinate our annual Barlow Break with our kids in two different schools with two very different spring holidays.

I can’t even remember where we went that first year as “only three.” I do remember that when I starting to drip out plans, the college kid immediately offered to house sit while we were gone. Um, what? How would they offer to house sit in response to my very strong hints of joining their beloved family as we traveled to parts unknown? Hello?

My husband explained that the college kid would not only be short of flexibility but would also be short of enthusiasm at being thrown back into family trip mode.

Um, what?

Next spring, we will have our last, last, last traditional spring break as child two (the youngest) prepares to leave the nest. As we did with our first child, we let him choose his own adventure and, as our first child did, he chose Disneyworld. This is where things immediately went sideways as I heard myself responding, “What if we do four days in the parks at Disneyworld and then four days on a Disney Cruise?

For the love of Minnie Mouse.

My husband is still laying on the floor where he collapsed in shock.

It seems that, as we settled into having one child in college (and not on our family trips), I started pre-grieving the departure of the second. I vowed to take every opportunity I could to grab any available moment with him, even if it meant an extended stay with Uncle Walter Disney.

No, no need to keep sending me those emails, Capital One. Yes, I did buy that. I am the mother of a senior in high school and when he leaves I will have no children left in the house so, yes, I did buy that. Now could you give me a fricking break while I work through my emotions by clicking add to cart over and over and over?

Take the Trip.

Yes, we are going balls out on the final Barlow Break. Shouldn’t we? Aren’t these the moments that will quickly turn to blips that we will be talked about again and again and again as we look back wistfully to a past that seemed hectic in real time but seems perfect in our rear view mirror?

I have never been spontaneous when it comes to travel, no. That changed in the last few years, yes. The capper was an invite from a dear friend after she fielded a phone call full of the woes of a shitstorm of a month that included a layoff, a surgery, an animal attack – all mine – to which she volleyed “okay, we need to get away for a few days.” I came up with excuse after excuse to decline, feeling very much like I wanted to continue my pity party for, well, ever except that with each excuse, my husband volleyed with a simple “Take the Trip.

He was right.

We spent four days on the Disney Wish. Four days that are easily in the top five of my favorite rear view mirror moments ever. I came home refreshed and cleansed and without the weight that had been pushing down on my psyche in the months prior. It was terrifying, yes, as I’d grown accustomed to traveling with my own pack and my friend had never traveled without hers and we really weren’t sure if one of us wouldn’t end up in the ocean but, instead, it was just brave bliss.

We are going again in January, she and I.

Then I am going again in April, with my family.

Take the trip.

We also have an August ‘24 trip booked, for just my husband and I, as we attempt to diminish that additional hole in our hearts after we deliver that youngest child to the college of his choice. I mean, if we’re going to sit shiva, shouldn’t we do so on a dogsled in Alaska?

Yes, Capital One, I did buy that.

Also, can we up my credit limit? But maybe let’s not tell my husband.


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