About a year ago, in Indonesia
A little over a year ago, I took two weeks out of my life to fly to Indonesia with my dad. The trip was logistically near-impossible to manage, and financially unconscionable for the both of us, but once we’d conceived of the plan actually executing the thing didn’t even really feel like an option. For two weeks, Dad and I fell completely off the grid, and did nothing but play with manta rays and read books and talk and talk and talk.
My parents and I have always traveled together, once a year at least. I was an only child, so they had a habit of throwing me into the proverbial (or literal) backpack and slinging me along with them wherever they went – riding motorcycles up to Canada, hang gliding on the sand dunes in North Carolina, diving wrecks in the islands. Sometimes when we travel it’s just me and my dad – as in Indonesia – and sometimes it’s just me and my mom, but more often than not it’s the three of us.
In the first few years after I became a parent I had a handful of opportunities to travel on my own – sometimes for work and sometimes for fun – and I almost always said yes when the offer arose. I was raised to be a bit of a wanderer; how could I not? But each and every time I traveled without my husband and kids, the predominant feeling was one of guilt.
I’m a parent.
How could I leave my children?
How could I spend money on an experience that’s just for me?
How could you?
I’m in the Cayman Islands right now. It’s just me and my mom and my dad, the same as it ever was. We’ve gone on this trip so many times. But this year there’s something new.
I don’t feel guilty.
I can try to. I can think about my ex-husband, dropping the kids off at school and trying to figure out the snacks and permission slips and banked pick-up times that have become second nature to me after all these years. I can think about my kids wanting me to read them a story before they fall asleep, and perhaps falling asleep too late in my absence. I can worry about my cats, and whether the back door is locked, and did the trash go out in the morning.
I could worry about all these things. But I don’t.
I have children; I am lucky to have them. I have a job and a home and responsibilities; I am lucky to have those, too. But right now I also have two parents who can eat lionfish and read books and talk and talk and talk.
The rest of it?
That can wait until I get back.