This venture is not without anxiety for me.
I spent most of my summers in a car or a tent or a pop-up trailer or on a train. My parents were both educators, my father was a high-school counselor in Detroit for forty years and my mother a music teacher in Livonia. Summer vacations were a melange of historical landmarks and state parks. I look back on it as dreamy. Our family, free of stuff and obligation, whiling away the warmer months in exotic Hershey, PA or Interlochen, MI. I was always a little bit dirty and covered in bites and scratches. I bought pressed pennies and pencils filled with rocks, lived on jawbreakers and jewel-toned rock candy. I killed so many books of Mad Libs.
"You were a mess," my Mom told me recently, when we were reminiscing on our summers with an eye on our upcoming trip.
"A mess?" Dirt? Bites? Scratches?
"Yeah, you never slept the night before we left. You were always anxiety-ridden about travel."
"Um, what? I LOVED to travel."
"No. No you really didn't."
And then it came back to me. That time on July 4 in Philadelphia. I was over-tired and it was four hundred degrees and we'd just finished scaling the Rocky stairs to the Rocky statue and watching fireworks and we were heading back out of town to our campsite and I was sobbing, positive that I would fall out the car onto the interstate and my parents wouldn't come back for me.
"It was nearly a self-fulfilling prophecy." Mother loves me, this I know, for her dry countenance tells me so.
And then I remembered the time in some big old stately square in Boston when I saw a woman fall off her bike onto a small child. I was eating prime rib. There was a clear association in my little mind between the violence of the accident and the violence of the prime rib. I completely lost my shit. I could not eat. I had dreams for years of people in that square losing body parts, limbs and digits just falling off them, and street urchins creeping out of alleys and gutters to eat the flesh. Awesome.
So it's fair to say my mother's right. (Harrumph.) I have some degree of anxiety associated with travel. It's gotten significantly better over time, softened into slightly hyper Planning! Saving! Graphing! Preparing! This is somewhat difficult for me to acknowledge considering my two largest goals in life:
1. Avoid stress and anxiety at all costs
This travel anxiety is also at odds with one of my stubbornly held beliefs about myself: It was all that travel as a kid that helped me learn to roll with it. Sleeping in sweltering tents and drawing backseat boundaries with my brother and having to make do for a month with only the possessions I could fit in one beer case. Understanding that sometimes there will be a traffic jam and sometimes it will rain for four days and other times I won't have a choice of what I get to eat for lunch and maybe lunch will come many hours later than expected. These are the experiences to which I attribute my ability to be flexible as sands shift. In so many aspects of this particular life we have chosen, I find that to be a most valuable skill.
Mostly I know how to take everything in stride. Mostly. So why the lingering anxiety surrounding that which I desperately crave? I don't know. It could be that what remains is the ghost of the twitchy control freak I would have become were it not for being forged in the fire of Julys in the backseat of a Plymouth Volare with a much larger brother.
These trips will not be made safer, smarter or more affordable by worrying about them. These trips will not be made safer, smarter or more affordable by worrying about them. These trips will not be made safer, smarter or more affordable by worrying about them. These trips will not be made safer, smarter or more affordable by worrying about them. These trips will not be made safer, smarter or more affordable by worrying about them. These trips will …