Sunday, July 25, 2010

Inspiration and Travel

"The world is a book, and those who don't travel only read one page." ~ St. Augustine

In the next six weeks, I am going to be traveling to 5 different states. My schedule is daunting and each destination will require a high level of energy from me. I am going to moving my teenagers into two different (and new) spaces 1800 miles apart from one another. I'm going to visit with dear friends and family. I'm going have the chance to visit many new places to which I've never traveled before. I will have a tight schedule, and each piece of the itinerary is going to have to line up perfectly in order for me to accomplish each key mission. At the same time, I don't want to visit each of these unfamiliar destinations with my head buried in a day planner. My hope is to a bang up job for the crucial reasons I'm in each place, but I also have faith that I'll have enough time, each in every location, for wonder, for daydreaming, for unplanned exploration and for discovery.

My first mission will be going to Florida to help find my son an apartment, to furnish it and to get him ready to move in later in August. Because I'm from the west coast, my family tends to go west on our vacations, rather than south from New England. Florida is a completely new expedition for us, and I'm incredibly proud of my son for forging off on his own in this way. In moving to Florida from Maine, Joshua is being quite intrepid....he is moving away from everything that's familiar and comforting. Because of his move, I get the pleasure in learning about a new place along with him. My hope is that we'll get to know the area extremely well. I don't want to just walk into national chain stores. Rather, I want to discover the offbeat places, the ones that locals know about, as we set up his new home. We can remain within our comfort zone, or we can expand upon it, and hopefully, achieve something beyond our limitations. Having the chance to set up a place to live for Josh will be the most important piece of this trip. However, I'm also excited about the chance to meet new people, eat in new restaurants, learn about a part of our nation with which I'm completely unfamiliar and to practice patience when things will, inevitably, not go as planned.

After Florida, my daughter and I are traveling to Del Mar, California, where we'll spend a week on the beach with family and friends. Although I was born in San Francisco, and spent much of my growing up life in Santa Barbara, I've never been to Del Mar. I've seen pictures. I've heard wonderful stories. I've seen scenic locations in movies. But, I've never actually been there myself. It has been too many years since my toes wriggled in the Pacific Ocean. It's been an eternity since I've had nothing to do but lie on a beach and soak up the sun. As much of an art lover as I am, it's felt like centuries since I've been immersed in an artists' community. I have missed eating fresh avocados, tasting perfect Mahi-Mahi and picking lemons right from the tree. I look forward to exploring every one of my senses in this enchanting, radiant Shangri-La.

Finally, after returning to the Northeast, I'll bring my daughter back to her beautiful prep school in western Massachusetts. After visiting family in New Hampshire, we'll move through our routine of setting up Caroline's room in record time. Despite our prodigious efforts and efficiency, there is something bittersweet about moving her into her dorm room each year. We have our systems down to a science now, and we pack our car in reverse order of how we plan on unloading. We know just what to bring in first, and can quickly create order from chaos. At the same time, with every poster I hang on the wall, or with each sweater I fold, I realize that my little girl is that much more independent from me. I am thrilled with her success and determination, and I feel blessed that her school is a perfect match. And yet, as I unpack the car, I'm letting go of her, item by item. Still, I have been fortunate to learn the area around her school very well. I have restaurants that I just love returning to, and people I enjoy seeing when I'm there. I feel a sense of loving community in a place that doesn't even 'belong' to me. It's always a joy to return, to see familiar faces and to feel at home in a place that is wonderfully welcoming.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca, the great Roman philosopher and dramatist, wrote "Travel and change of place new vigor to the mind." I have resolved to see the next month as a way to accomplish that idea. I hope to re-energize my spirit, to broaden my perspective and to find myself richly renewed in each unfamiliar place. I hope that I can discover something wonderful about every destination, and I hope that I will find myself enlightened by new locales. Ray Bradbury wrote, "Half the fun of the travel is the aesthetic of lostness." While I'd prefer not to get completely lost, I am excited about finding that tingly feeling of not being completely on the map all the time. I hope to accomplish my set tasks, to learn some new skills, and above all, to enjoy this lengthy amount of time out of my routine.

Beyond that, I'm open to new possibilities. I just hope I don't lose my luggage in the process.