‘Shoulda stayed home’; Inner Skeptic Is Left Behind

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.

Sunrise over the port wing of a Boeing 777

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.

And suddenly I was jolted, not by resistance, but by excitement. For weeks, when I spoke with people about this trip, I’d say, “I’m very excited,” knowing I should be. But the little skeptic in me kept me oddly detached, holding onto the notion that perhaps I wouldn’t actually go. But finally, happily, as we rushed toward that thin stripe of pink breaking night sky, my heart began to hammer. I was going to see things I’ve only read about. I was going to wander unfamiliar cities, taste flavors I’ve never eaten before and drink things out of strange bottles with exotic names.
With that line of pink I finally let go, and home fell away.
It turns out my companion was right after all. I always really do want to go. Sometimes it just takes leaving to make me realize it.

3 thoughts on “‘Shoulda stayed home’; Inner Skeptic Is Left Behind

  1. Beautiful blog, Mimi. You and Mr. Steve will bring home so many memories from your grand adventure. Better than a suitcase full of souvenirs (although I hope you score some neat jewelry on the trip). Travel gently.

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