travel tangent

25 Aug

San Diego Airport - 1999

Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a yearning to travel.  Back then, I had no sense of place.  I had the daily routines in my hometown mapped out in my head, and everything seemed closer together than it actually was.  I burned for the open road.  I put necessities (notebook, pen, a favorite toy or book) into a handkerchief and tied it to a stick because I’d seen children in books do that before a long journey.  In the weeks before our annual trip to visit our cousins in central and northern California my stomach would squeeze and I would obsess about what I would pack, the places we would stop for gas, the golden-green softness of the hills along the road, the smell of the air in their towns, the feel of the carpets in their houses, the sounds of their voices and the games we would play.  In Utah where my grandparents lived, the light was brighter.  The air sharper and dryer.  The main floor of their house was warm, their basement cold and dark and refreshing.  Imagine how I felt whenever we strayed to other locales.  Exotic cow fields in Idaho.  Cool, moist forests in northern California and the baked Grand Canyon in Arizona.  There were the strange-smelling, brightly-colored pools and streams in Yellowstone.  The hot, close air and more filtered light of Washington D.C., full of history.  The first time I remembered flying on a plane was a dream come true, with the plastic trays and the little bags of nuts and squares of green and brown below.  At night flying over cities I wanted to name their stars.  My eyes were wide and open.  I consumed it all and only wanted more.

on the road to the north shore, Oahu - 2005

I loved being able to dream about these places, to have them forever in my memory, but I was still always planning and dreaming of other places.  Further off places where people didn’t always speak English and had beautiful cities and countrysides but still had the same hearts and families and feelings.  Time passed and I grew weary of southern California.  I wanted to wander long and hard.  I wanted to leave my old self behind and see who I could be somewhere else.  We went to Hawaii and it was deliciously different without being completely foreign.  The air was warm and light and promised rain.  I tasted fresh pineapple, so different from the stuff in the can we usually ate.

view from the plane back from Cancun - 2007

I moved to Utah at 17 after high school, married at 19 and we went back to Hawaii together.  We were so lucky and were able to travel more than we would ever have been able to if left to our own devices.  With help from family or my husband’s work, we went to the Mexican riviera twice.  We visited my husband’s family in Indiana and I felt at home in all the green humidity.  We went swimming in the Atlantic in South Carolina.

packing for Playa del Carmen - 2009 (notice the two shelves of travel books in the background? I have even more now!)

And then I went to England with my younger sisters and our mother.  The air was so different there.  Less tight and more moist than Utah, and often filtered through clouds.  I felt I could finally relax and stop squinting and seeking shade.  It felt like I was finally able to reach that itch and scratch for all I was worth.  I missed my husband and my two children, though, so much that it ached and I had to keep my mind occupied to keep from crying sometimes.

Adrien and Shannon with their fresh, new travel journals on the plane to England - 2010

When I got home, I felt strangely satiated.  I didn’t immediately begin planning my next dream trip.  I clung tightly to my small children and kissed their fat cheeks.  I sat next to my husband on the couch and happily watched TV with him in the evenings.

waiting for the tube, London - 2010

It wasn’t until several months later that I started dreaming again.  The whispered call to get in the car and just take my family somewhere far away.  Now I read the blogs of nomadic families and it all seems so easy…  if it weren’t for this thing, or that thing.  Is it even possible to let everything go and just wander?  Do I even want to?  Traveling has given me that sense of place that I lacked as a child.  I know that home is with my family.  I hope I’ll be able to travel again, especially if I can take my new family along so I can show my children the world.  But for now, home is where my children leave cheerios on the carpet and run around naked and screaming.  Home is where our garden gives us red tomatoes and my husband and I sit on a used couch we bought for $25 five years ago.  For now, home is here.


7 Responses to “travel tangent”

  1. lp August 25, 2011 at 6:32 pm #

    What a beautiful post — nostalgic and revealing at the same time.

    • Megan August 26, 2011 at 10:18 am #

      thanks, mom. The day after I posted this, I was kinda nervous that it was insensitive, but I hope everyone realizes it’s not meant to be.

  2. shannon August 26, 2011 at 4:07 pm #

    great 🙂 I had Sam read it to me.
    but… how could you have forgotten France???????????

    • Megan August 29, 2011 at 12:06 am #

      I thought about that actually… but I felt like I was becoming redundant. Do you think I should have included it anyway?

  3. katie September 1, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    loved it. sometimes i get that itch, too…. to just go somewhere i’ve never been. of course, i usually ignore that itch. but oh, to travel. i want to see everywhere. i want to go to hawaii (i’m jealous that you’ve been twice and i’ve yet to go). i want to see church history sites and american history sites. i want to go to europe again…to spend more time in the places i saw last trip and to see more around there (i tell ya, 10 days just isn’t long enough… and a day and a half in paris….definitely not long enough!). i want to go to australia. i want to go all over. i think it would be awesome if i could someday truthfully say that i’ve set foot in every continent (well, i’ll skip antarctica). let’s make a deal: when our kids have grown and we have more money to spend on traveling, let’s just go. i don’t care where. you in?

    • Megan September 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Yeah, ignoring the itch can be hard. I’m jealous of all those families I mentioned reading about, because they usually are either rich or have had job offers overseas, and you can pretty much only follow the money in this world. I want to go to those places you mentioned. And more (I’m sure you have more on your list, too)! I agree that a day (and a half, in your case) in Paris isn’t long enough. I feel like I got to see most of the touristy sites I wanted to see, but not enough of the *real* Paris, so to speak, ya know? And I def. want to go back to England, and go everywhere. The more I learn about different countries, the more I want to visit them! So yeah, you could say that I’m definitely in! Do you know Pinterest? I have a list of sorts of places I want to visit and one for places I’ve been to (both works in progress) if you want to check them out:

  4. katie September 7, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    yeah, if i was rich, it would be a lot easier for me to travel. and yes, there are many more places i’d like to go. and yeah…paris…we spent some time at notre dame and went to the eiffel tower (and ate es cargo in a restaurant looking out at the tower) one day and went to disneyland the next. that was it. i can’t believe we didn’t even go to the louvre! i know there are more things in paris, and yes… the “real” paris would have been awesome, but the louvre… how could i go all the way to paris and not go there? ugh. that’s my biggest regret of the trip. i’d never heard of pinterest before. i looked at your pages…now i’m pining. sigh.

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