I’m doing something tomorrow that I’ve never done. I’m leaving on a trip. To a place I’ve never been. That nobody I know has been to, either.
When I have traveled, it’s been either for work, or to see someone like a relative or close friend. Every year except this one, I’ve taken road trips to visit my sister in Wisconsin, and before that, Chicago, places she’s lived over the past 18 years or so since she left Cleveland. I didn’t go this year. Schedules did not work out right on both ends. Me with the shared custody thing and my deadlines at work. And my sister broke her leg really badly, and also moved twice, so there was no good time. That’s ok.
This is not that trip.
People who know me know I am a planner. Ironically, that used to be my job, when I was an event planner and an executive assistant, booking travel and events at some place out of town I’d never seen or been to. I know all about travel and all the details therein. But I’m out of practice doing it myself. I tend to obsess about details and plan things weeks, even months in advance. When you are a professional event planner, part of your closing meeting with the hotel management staff is to discuss next year’s meeting and whether or not they’ve earned your business back the following year. Big meetings are planned at least that far in advance.
I started to think I would go somewhere only a couple of weeks ago. I thought I would be here, in Cleveland, doing other things with other people, but that’s not how things worked out.
Last year, I spent new year’s eve at a party held and attended by wonderful friends, who are all in committed, happy relationships. I was one of two single people there. When midnight came and all the couples kissed and toasted the new year together, the only place I wanted to be was somewhere else, where my single-hood wouldn’t be so obvious, where I wouldn’t be the only divorced single mom who clearly didn’t have anything else going on with someone that night. I love my friends and love their happiness, but this year, that was just not for me.
This year’s journey is sort of the perfect combination of my rabid, detail-oriented planner self and the secret, spur-of-the-moment, crazy part of me that I don’t take out of the box very often, for various reasons. The part that used to be reckless, even dangerous, and danced on the edge of trouble and peril with the relish of Madonna in the Danceteria days (my flesh is too soft at 46 to compare to anything but the pre-bodybuilding Madonna at this point).
When these two parts of me blend, a new me emerges. I am scared and exhilarated and excited. The trip holds promise and some elements of potential danger. I’m going anyway.
I need this. It’s been a difficult and challenging year for me in many ways, and while I hesitate to throw the word “deserve” around, I seem to always choose not to do something like this. To take the safe route. To stay home, do the laundry and the dishes, watch some TV, maybe cook some things, clean. I decided not to do that this time.
My Mom encouraged this. When I was in middle school, she went through a very bad period when divorcing my Dad. He and his lawyers were not fair, and the town was not kind to her, not knowing her reasons for pushing it, which were and remain private to outsiders, but were very, very justified. She lost her job, was blackballed out of finding new work, had a lot of money troubles and we were really scrambling. In the days before cell phones, GPS, or any other safety net, she set out in her car with nothing but a map and an overnight bag, and drove herself from Ohio to Vermont because she was going to see the goddamned fall foliage, and nobody was going to stop her from doing it. She did it, too. She told me when she crossed over the New York State line from Ohio, she laughed and laughed until she was almost in hysterics and crying, at the freedom of it all. She had been trapped for so long, and this was her freedom, her taking back herself. She had a wonderful time and has never forgotten the trip. It was life-changing for her. So she encouraged me on this journey I’m undertaking, understandably.
I had a difficult day at work. There are days like today where I think I would do almost anything not to work for anyone at all anymore, because someone is always unhappy, someone is always mad about something, and though you do your best, it never seems like its good enough. All jobs are like this in some way. It’s not this job in particular, I am just tired of having a job, but it doesn’t look like the genie with the lamp is showing up anytime soon, so I continue to try to do my best every day. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could come home and prepare for my trip.
I have so much to think about on this trip. So much to DO. But these are all things I want to do.
I hope 2016 is better in every possible way. This year had its high points, to be sure, but the low points were a real test, and I’m ready to put it to bed.
Onwards and upwards, friends. What’s your journey?
The music tag for this post is a bit overplayed but always good, and relevant for me today. Deal with it.