Every time I travel, especially if it’s a long trip, I hit a point where I’m overwhelmed. Maybe it’s the planning; reading guidebooks so jammed full of places to go and things to see that I just don’t know how I’ll chose what to do with my limited time. Maybe it’s leaving love ones behind; will they all be OK until I get back? Maybe it’s just in my blood. I had a great-grandmother who didn’t leave the farm for months at a time.
Whatever the reason, I always have a moment when I say the words, “I don’t want to go.”
This time it happened when my companion was leaving to run a few last minute errands. I was in our bedroom, staring at the pile of clothes heaped on the bed and I said, “There’s no way these are all going into my one suitcase, is there?” He looked at the stack and said, “Nope. I’ll be right back.” My reply? “I don’t want to go.” He grinned, gave me a kiss in passing and replied, “Yeah, you do.” You’re wrong, I thought. At that particular moment I really did want to forget the whole thing, order some cheap Asian food, and watch an old movie with my little dog on my lap.
But I also knew this trip was a hell of an opportunity. Three weeks in Europe. Who in their right mind turns down a chance to see France, Switzerland and Italy? Yes, I was overwhelmed, but ditch the whole plan? That would be worse than crazy. It would be crassly ungrateful. So I pushed my old lady, homebody instincts down, jamming them between my desires to see Michelangelo’s David and sample real Italian gelato. A few hours later I got on a plane.
“Shoulda stayed home.” The thought mocked me as we sat on the tarmac for an hour.“Shoulda stayed home,” it giggled as I picked at a freakishly bad airline meal. “Shoulda stayed home,” it murmured through my headset as I pulled an inadequate blanket around me, shivering from the cold air seeping in the bulkhead wall. Shoulda stayed home. I’ve heard it every damn trip I’ve ever taken, even when I was a little girl just going to my grandparents house to stay the night. I was more than just physically tired. I was sick of my own whining inner thoughts.
The Atlantic was behind us when I finally gave up on sleeping. Stiff and bleary eyed, I stretched and turned to the tiny portal over the wing to look out at the black night. There, just over the hump of giant jet engine, was the sunrise.