Clean Slate

Sometimes it takes a certain amount of desolation in order to take risks. Traveling, to most, is a well-planned block of time that comes and goes and changes little throughout the years. But for me, traveling is an unpredictable privilege that I’m unregrettably addicted to. I travel best when I have nothing, need everything and am at risk of falling behind in something. That’s exactly where I am now.

My hours have been drastically cut back at work and I’m doubtful that my June bills will be paid in full before I leave. Without any vacation time left and only a couple available weeks to work in July, my financial situation will only grow worse when we return. But oddly enough, the idea of my break-even lifestyle disintegrating actually soothes me. It leaves me with no choice but to make this trip count.

I find it a bit easier to excel when I am at a loss to sustain my current situation. In this case excelling means facing a particular amount of honesty that makes me uneasy. It means having to dig deep inside to shatter the norms I’ve been accustomed to while being vulnerable to the possible alternatives. We’re up against our own childhoods as we backtrack through the memories of our upbringing and I’d imagine the questions we’ll have to ask one another will be awkward. We’ll come across times where we won’t want to press the subject further, but we’re searching for something bigger than us on this trip and we won’t be able to quite understand what that is unless we do.

It isn’t much different for my mom. She literally lost the roof above her head a month back when her air conditioning unit caught fire and nearly took her with it. Now without her condo (currently being renovated) and living out of my brother and sister-in-law’s house, she too starts this journey with a rebirth. For her though, the meaning stretches further. It goes back to the 1950’s in New Britain, Connecticut when her and her father embarked on their own journeys in his delivery truck. It probably dates back to a particular curiosity to venture that only she can explain. Perhaps she’s been looking to start her own parent-sibling adventure this whole time.

For as long as I could remember, she’d always prod my brother and I to take a cross-country trip. I mean it’s not as if we didn’t travel when I was young. My parents took us everywhere. They made sure that come summer, we were packed into our 1985 blue-whale station wagon headed for Old Lyme, Connecticut or bust. Literally sitting on top of 3 weeks worth of bulk food supplies, fishing gear and enough clothes to outfit a small country, my brother and I could not wait until we saw the waters of Long Island Sound. Without intending to, my parents created this sense of exploration through these trips and others like it. As we got older those trips grew fewer and far between as college, divorce, jobs and girlfriends got in the way. And I think it left my mom with an even stronger urge to take the “big trip.” My brother and I just assumed we eventually would, but year after year, we had our own adventures. My brother racked up a couple of cross-country trips and I seemed to do one every year. None of which were with the one person who wanted them most. And with each amazing moment I experienced, I couldn’t help feel the guilt of not having her there.

Time leaves everyone with a different understanding of things. Mine was clear – we would finally take our trip and we’d grow in the process. That’s what it’s always been about; not money, not success, but growth. If we can learn anything from this trip, I hope it is about ourselves, but something tells me we’re going to learn much more.

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