I come to its doors primed on a tilt of anxiety, excitement, exhaustion and worry. I travel gene seems to have passed me over and I tend to view departures from home as obstacles to be managed, routine busters threatening change and masking fun. I nest. I settle in. I cherish my home base. Still, my aversion to travel is flaw rather than asset, as I also know how spontaneity restores and loved ones wash fresh balm over dull eyes.
I know that on principle, I want to go for the visit, crave the happy hour laughs and pj-clad breakfasts. I want the hugs, the familiar inside jokes and arms that embrace with the knowledge of who I was long ago. I miss the weathered fingers and shared eyes. I want to be more spur of the moment, and have to work to incorporate play, leaving post-ins on mirrors to “Have Fun” followed by “Figure out what you think is fun!”
I really want to like travel. I drool over stories of exploring in caves and glittering seas in far away lands. I remind myself that I’m coming back, like the 2 year old from whom out of sight ceases to exist, that my apartment and my life will be waiting for me.
Still, the process of getting to the airport wears me out. It starts months earlier as I mull over flights, mental gymnastics as I subtract cab time from alarm wake-up, adding security lines and dividing by cost. I hold debates over length of trip, best arrival time, and agenda for days gone. Right upon the ticket purchase races the buyer’s remorse complete with reminders that last until take-off: cancel newspaper, pack cell phone charger, find balance. I make myself crazy with library runs, cleaning, arranging, and more library stops, riding on the delusion of being ultimately prepared. I aim for every T crosses and corner swept, losing sight of the forest thru the clutter of a rushing anxiety. I spin through evenings plotting alternative A, B, C, and escape routes, aiming for perfection as the sole solution that allows my feet to board the plane.
And the truth never varies: my grandmother was right. 90% of what I worry about never comes to be. The anticipation is always worse than the finale. I forget why I’m shuffling through security lines and abandoning my safety zone. I forget that I enjoy vacation. It takes me a few hours, my soul time zone skewed until I can unpack and exhale. I forget that the joy of family breeds comfort and the shine of laughter trumps band-aids. I forget the meditation of lily pads and how the gentle lapping of a lake carries away my fears, stripping me of stale routines as it substitutes joy, making change worthwhile.
I forget that patterns of protection expire and that my legs are still capable of hiking new dreams. I arrive at the dock on a tilt, slanted from ordinary life, and then, under the warmth of loved ones and absence of to-do lists, I find fresh eyes, and my smile buried within the lazy vacation afternoons at the lake.
I find my balance.