This morning during our Thursday coffee, you spoke about needing to return to Hawaii pronto. “What is it you are trying to escape?” I asked. You replied simply: “Nothing. I’m quite content. I just really miss the land.”
A gut punch of shame hit me, like a mouthful of water when you surface to a giant wave. First, for making the assumption that you needed a reason to travel, and second, in recognition of my own, ever present craving to escape my life. Inside of me are two women at war: the one who loves her home life, and another seeking relief from it in a vacation. How can I be both at the same time? What is it exactly that I am chasing?
I found the answer in my travel logs, a compendium of colour coding, post it notes and meticulous research. I’m a little (a lot) type A, which means every trip I plan is chronicled in a notebook full of destinations, restaurants, and travel tips curated from blogs, reviews and guidebooks devoured months in advance of going. The year I traveled to Croatia, however, this changed.
Elliot surprised me with the trip, taking over planning as I was swamped with a crazy year at grad school. Little did I know, “planning” meant a ferry schedule and a reservation for a moped and an air BNB. So on the tiny island of Vis, without my guidebook, daily itineraries and Wifi, I discovered a completely different version of myself, and she fell in love with slow travel.
Our only guide was a map snagged from the moped rental with hastily circled beaches by a local. We sped along the ring road (me screaming over Elliot’s need for speed), pulling off to swim in the clearest water I’ve ever seen. We hiked to secret white rock beaches, watching sailboats pull in to anchor, dreaming about a future we could spend at sea. We fell in love with a little taverna we visited nightly, feasting on what “was ready” in Anca’s garden that day, rather than from a menu (who knows what “rock shampig” is anyways?). Looking back, I have a scanty set of photos and no notes on our journey, only the unforgettable scent of lush rosemary and the remembrance of a carefree girl, wandering wild and free.
That girl (now woman), whom we will call “travel Jackie”, is what I am most desperately chasing. She is connected to herself, navigating moment to moment, asking “what does my being feel like doing today?” She is spontaneous and ever optimistic that something beautiful is around the corner. Even when she is being swarmed by giant eyed bee like creatures (curse you Hawaiian Tropic sunscreen, for smelling so good) on the only sandy beach on the island, she feels joy that stems from knowing she is getting exactly what she needs. What a way to experience living.
I will leave my musings on being “travel Jackie” for another letter, but for now, might I suggest an adventure? Next Thursday, in lieu of our usual coffee shop, I am coming with my hiking gear, the dog and my Bruce Trail App. The only plan we’ll have is to explore a trail we’ve never been to before (I promise I won’t read the description in advance!). You in?