Note from the author: The story you are embarking on is true. The timing, however, is adjusted for your reading pleasure so you can take this trip with me. The trip is in the can, as some of you who know me already know. I’m writing it in the past tense because I’ve taken some time to let the memories sink in, and to reflect on how this part of the journey went. Sit back and enjoy the ride.
How do you take a trip that you’ve wanted to take your entire life, but were supposed to take it with someone who is no longer here?
I haven’t thought about it like that, but in a nutshell, that’s what I’m doing. Next week. The good news is I’m taking said trip with the love of my life. The hard part is, I expected to take this trip when I was a 20-something, before Life had taken hold to compress me into the Adulting World of work, family, and the dreaded “R” word …. Responsibility. It won’t be spoiling the ending to explain that my upcoming trip was meant to be part of a cross-country adventure that my sister Joyce and I planned on taking when we both finished college back in the 80s.
The problem is, Joyce and I didn’t get past 1984. Well, I did. Joyce did not.
There is so much “story” to this one, I’ll need a few quick blog posts to set this up. Here’s the scenario:
A trip out West, part of what would have been the dream road trip for my sister and me.
Me and my husband of 13 years. Let’s call him Mike. He was a childhood crush of mine when he played third base for The Rebels in the George J. Hummel Little League in our hometown of Seymour, Connecticut.
Small-town sports take root early, and in our family of seven children, our parents volunteered for activities that we kids were involved in. It was a way to help out, but more importantly, a way to be with their children in our leisure time, precious that it was. My father was the coach of The Rebels, an expansion team added to the league at that time. My then-future husband, Mike, was a “free agent” from another team that had to offer up a player to the newly formed Rebels. Okay, reeling you back in so as not to get too far off topic, The Who of this story is Mike and Me. Note that the original version was supposed to be Joyce and Me, so keep that in mind.
Not so fast, I can’t give away all the details. First, I will have to pose a question to see who can guess this detail. I’ll give you a big hint for starters: We are heading to a major landmark in the U.S., out West as we have already established in this post. Name the primary location we are headed to, and who is responsible for it becoming such a Bucket List location? Visit the Walking Distance Facebook page to offer your answers!
One week from today. Wheels up, baby! We’re flying out to [Wouldn’t You Like To Know], getting to our destination a bit differently than Joyce and I were planning to do it, but the journey is not about the logistical details as much as it’s about the experiences throughout. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about traveling, it’s that your expectations should never overshadow the reality of what you are experiencing. That cute little old lady sitting next to you on the flight may offer you some of her homemade Divinity candy and click! Instantly you are chatting like longtime neighbors that share a common driveway. Go with it.
Camping, RV-style, so we can wake up each morning and decide – Go west or go east? Free to drive along taking in the ride, pulling over to have a bite to eat when the view is too tempting to pass by. It ain’t the Ritz but it sure is heavenly at times.
Okay, so that’s the Who, What, Where (sortof), How. Can you see the former journalist in me sticking to the fundamentals? One critical question left to pose and answer: The Why.
Why do we go where we go? What makes “vacation” to each of us? Time off from the daily grind of work, household chores, bill paying, family caregiving, and, did I mention work? Is it the quest for adventure or exploring new places? Do you need down time sunning on a beach, hiking a trail, checking out a cool city?
The Why for this trip has many layers, but the bedrock lies deep in the core time of my life: teen-hood. The days when my sister Joyce and I were dreamy, optimistic, carefree teenagers. Nothing was impossible to us, because we grew up under the tenets of positive parents who encouraged us to shoot for the stars. Well, shoot for the stars, but work hard, get an education, be strong and diligent in your faith, love your neighbor, and a few other things that were the doctrine of our Catholic upbringing in a blue-collar family of nine (that’s including our parents).
The Why of this story will be explained as we go, I think, since there are revelations that come to us that we don’t always see coming or intend to experience. That’s the beauty of having experiences! Shit happens, both good and bad. We can embrace it or not, but either way, it’s going to leave a mark.
Okay, so that’s the setup. Trip of a lifetime, coming right up.
Coming Up Next: She’s Not Here
©️Marianne Heffernan, 2017