Losing Yourself (and Travel) to Life
When people talk about binge-watching Netflix shows I can't relate. I don't even have my own shows that I watch, not to mention no concept of how you can come up with hours to lay around and watch a show. I mean, it sounds absolutely glorious, I just can't relate. I can, however, tell you all about shows on Nick Jr. and Disney, or even branch into discussing a few kid-appropriate shows that don't involve cartoon characters, but I don't have a single show of my very own that I occasionally watch, much less binge-watch. Until school got a comfortable rhythm and our routine finally stabilized a bit this week after the summer break and then the hurricane and ensuing flood, I hadn't found 30 minutes to go on a walk by myself in months. MONTHS. Forget getting to a gym or workout class, I hadn't even gone on a walk that wasn't solely focused on getting the dog to pee in two blocks or less since longer than I can remember.
I think the last time I saw friends for more than five minutes without the kids or a work or school related function forcing the event was back in May? Or February? Or maybe it was in 2016. I really don't know. My hobbies include shopping for things for my girls, taking my kids to activities, watching Blaze and the Monster Machines with them, making two-year-old and seven-year-old appropriate lunches free of peanuts, GMOs, HMOs, artificial colors. and whatever else isn't supposed to be in there. My dog plays with her friends at doggy daycare many times more frequently than I see any of mine. Even if I was somehow able to see them, they are pretty much all at least equally as busy as me so it isn't nearly as easy as it is to take my dog for a $12 playday at Camp Bow Wow. I'd happily pay $12 for my own playdate.
I'm truly beyond fortunate in so many ways, and I don't mean to sound like I am taking that for granted, but today is one of those days that I am sure others can (hopefully) relate to where you lift your head up, look around, and wonder what the heck is going on. You are busy as can be, the calendar is crammed, you are exhausted, but at the end of the day you know you have run as hard as you can on the hamster wheel, but you aren't exactly sure why or where to. All you know is you get to do the same thing again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. The PTA meetings, 8-year-old birthday parties, toddler gymnastics, school field trip days, doctors appointments, home repair consultations, and litany of other agenda items are all special in their own way, but they add up to a collective time-suck that can literally suck the life, or at least the light, out of you.
And that's where I find myself today, without much of me hanging around at the moment. I don't mean that literally (see the above-referenced lack of time to workout), but without the opportunity to decompress or do any of the things that make you who you are, you really do just become a glorified butt-wiper-chauffer-cartoon-channel-changer-schedule-keeper-lunch-maker-tangle-fighter-extraordinaire.
This may seem a little tangential to travel, but for me, it isn't. Rewind back to a few days ago when I wrote about the final United 747 flight that will happen in November. This flight sold out in about an hour or so with folks happily paying full fare to hop on board, and with many more would-be-travelers very sad they missed out on the chance. I opened the post on that flight with a throw-away line that said "It has been a while since I took a flight that was sort of ridiculous just to do it, but I may have just found my return to taking “ridiculous” flights just to experience them in the newly announced United 747’s farewell flight to Hawaii!"
I paid a few bucks to put the flight on hold for a week while I tried to figure out if I could really go or not. Josh travels for work, so it is just the girls and me here many weeks and it isn't that easy to arrange to just leave on a jet plane for the heck of it. I mean, it isn't even easy to go for a 30-minute walk most days, so of course being gone for a few days isn't simple.
However, while that line was included really as just an introductory throw-away thought, I realized a few days later that it isn't really a throw-away thought. And it isn't "ridiculous" flights I am missing, it is simply the ones that are for myself that I am longing for. I am missing traveling just to travel, experience, and explore. Yes, we still are lucky enough to be traveling, but while I am excited for the girls to have fun on an upcoming weekend of splashing in the pools, beaches, and water slides of the Bahamas (if a hurricane doesn't get in the way), that isn't the sort of trip that refills this part of my soul. Neither is the trip to Grandma's house, or the local resort, or to a work conference. I am sure I have now officially entered "spoiled brat" territory for some, but as a 36-year-old married mother of two, I am officially missing the pieces of what makes me, me, and traveling and exploring are very high on that list.
I think if we hadn't lost our adults-only San Diego trip due Hurricane Harvey, my adventure coffers wouldn't be quite as low, but as it stands the fumes are shooting out and polluting my house. I need a "ridiculous" trip, a selfish trip, a trip that isn't designed for anyone else's enjoyment or needs but my own. I can do okay without my own Netflix show that I binge-watch on the couch, but I can only do okay for so long without real travel. It's just who I am.
I'm not sure yet if the "selfish" trip I get to take will be the final 747 United flight or something else entirely, but I've at least identified that I am really missing that part of my life. Having the miles to travel is only half the battle, the other (more challenging) half, once you get to a certain stage of life, is finding the time to make it happen. I don't have the solutions to the grind of an otherwise very blessed modern-day suburban family life, but I feel at least a tiny bit better understanding a bit more about what I am missing.
I think/hope I'm not alone in this, so I'd love to hear your stories if you have experienced something similar!