I’m certain most itinerant travel writers are either male or childless or both, because quite frankly, I just put down one of Pico Iyer’s book and I’m exhausted. In one morning, I’ve been to Bali and India and Bolivia and I haven’t even made my bed. I’d half hoped to throw something in the crockpot this morning, but I was too involved with Iyer’s visit with the Dali Lama.
The truth is, I didn’t discover my love for travel until I had three children to clothe and feed. And then, on a whim, I’d gone off to Peru by myself for eight days and I was biten and belittled and bethrothed by the travel bug. What rotten timing. I spend a lot of time now looking for cracks in our family’s foundation that I can slither through – a free weekend for example – so that I can run off and escape somewhere. This afternoon, after finding a good deal on the Internet, I wondered if I could see Paris in a weekend. After tallying up the jet lag hours and the fact that I haven’t done laundry in five days, I decided I was too damn tired, and under-clothed, to make such a trek; I simply don’t have the energy. That’s truly a shame, I know, considering I have the money and a very nice husband.
I’m not begrudging the three teenagers running through the hallways of my house. Child bearing and rearing is one of life’s great journeys, is it not? But the older I get, the more I disdain my creaking bones, insomnia, and all the time that’s passed. After playing soccer mom for seven days, cleaning 105 dishes per week and doing ten loads of laundry in three days, I’m no longer up for a weekend in Paris. I’m at the point in life where a weekend at home alone is vacation enough. I can pick my own channels and leave my dishes on the counter for a day or two. Compare that to to a trek through a cave full of bats.
And the older I get, the more in need of comfort I am. I don’t relish being wet on the Inca Trail anymore or stuck in mud on some Tibetan mountain. The last time I roughed it, the airlines lost my luggage in Peru. After seven days in the same clothes, I arrived home with bed bugs and raw feet. I like my clean, white shirts, a fresh bottle of shampoo and hot water. I fear I’ve passed that lonely and humiliating boundry that labels me a tourist and not a traveler.
I’m not sure how old Pico Iyer is, but the man goes to bed at 8:30 at night and rises at the crack of dawn. How nice for him. It’s obvious he hasn’t had to wash another human being’s underwear or whip up some Kraft macaroni and cheese for an eight-year-old. He can just wander around the world willy nilly, never having to call a kid’s guidance counselor to inquire about missing report cards. He gets to hang with the Dali Lama while I’m hanging with the fact that I might never see the world. Or even some of it.
I hope I sound like I’m whining, because I am. Travel writers instill envy – not that grandiose sense of adventure they’re rumored to bequeath their readers. We read them to see what we’re missing, what life might be like if we hadn’t gone the diaper route. I’m certain by the time there is no pitter patter of feet in my hallway, my traveling urges will be quelled. Home will seem like a nice, safe place. Who’s up for malaria when they’re 70?