My mother married this extremely funny and sweet man named Max when I just turned 5 years old. They sadly divorced 2 years later, but were still quite in love. I was too young to know or see the sadness my mother felt when he would often visit or when we would visit him. For ten years, they would visit one another between San Francisco and Chicago. For ten years, he would call on every birthday and holiday. It was not until late in high school when I finally felt and saw the hurt too. I grew to be a bitter teenager about him. Max passed away a few years ago from being ill. Today, I am more aware of love and relationships and people, and after having to cope with Max’s death without closure, I feel like I would never replace those unique 12 years with him in my life.
We were visiting San Francisco again, but this time is was Christmas. Dad (Max) was not as prepared as I think Mom would have like him to have been. There was no tree. What was Christmas without a tree? My mother was one for tradition and improvisation. She is wonderful about refusing to be “without.” I am not sure where they came from, maybe Dad had them stored away, but she somehow got her hands on some Green Christmas Lights and some scotch tape. She then molded the strand of lights into the form of a Christmas tree on the mirror door of the closet. She stood back and looked at it…”There!” she exclaimed. She was pretty proud of herself. Tree accomplished. Dad looked at her and smiled and perhaps only I caught his glance of admiration. Perhaps he was embarrassed that he did not have a tree.
It is funny. I do not remember any of the gifts I received this Christmas. I don’t remember the exact year either. I remember what the apartment looked like and I remember that tree made of Christmas lights. In the morning the tape had started to peel off the mirror and I got up and rubbed it back on before my mom saw. There are plenty of different types of families out there. My Dad/Max was not there for very many. But, I remember them all. It was the only times I felt like my mom and my little family was attempting to become more full.
To travel alone is a battle on it’s own. A fun battle, but a battle all the same. I love that I am able to meet whomever I want and hang out with them whenever. I love that I can sleep when I want, eat when I want, and go wherever I wish to go. It is, however, lonely sometimes.
While in a museum or experiencing something spontaneous and fun I often wish to lean over and talk about it with someone else. A friend, a companion, a relative, whoever. I want to talk about what I am seeing and what I am experiencing. I think it is beneficial to travel through both journey’s.
It was the end of my Round the World trip. The thought of me leaving hung heavy within me. Everything I went to visit on my last day in my beloved London was tainted by the thought of leaving. Shakespeare Globe lost it’s magic, because I knew I would not be around long enough to attend a performance. The Tate museum was beautiful, but once it was closing I knew I would be forced out and not allowed back in until my next visit. I longed to get lost in my favorite city, but I knew living on the streets would not be the most logical decision for myself. I stayed out wandering around all the cobble-stoned streets that I
could, until the sun went down. I stumbled upon St. Paul and literally ran into the steps. The air was growing colder and people were leaving work. I had decided that this was the perfect opportunity to people watch and embrace being in London at that moment. There was a girl with a white hat sitting across the courtyard seeming to do the same thing. Older men with suitcases and hats briskly glided across the courtyard, children skipped around in their uniforms from school, and a crowd of young twenty something’s were out and ready to protest Libya’s war.
I took a deep breath. I could feel tears creeping up. I had to get a hold
of myself! There is nothing quite like visiting another city and just being present in that specific moment. Thinking about where you are, what you are looking at, and that you may not ever come back to this place again. It removes me from routine thinking and what strengthens my soul.
Look to this day,
For it is LIFE,
The very Life of Life.
In it’s brief course lie all
The realities and verities of existence,
The bliss of growth,
The splendor of action,
The glory of power –
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision.
But today, well lived,
Makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope
Look well, therefore, to this day.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in America. It is a tradition to take the day and be thankful. Thankful for “what you have.” A home. A job. A family. Life. Health. Happiness.
I cannot help but be selfish during this time and be entirely thankful for the person that I am. I am thankful that I love this world around me, however imperfect that it may be. It is beautiful and strange and I appreciate all of it’s differences. I am thankful that I have strong beliefs in peace. I am thankful for all I have seen (even if it has put me in debt). I am thankful that I take risks in order to be happy. Not all my yesterday’s are great dreams, but the good ones always outnumber the nightmares. I am thankful for a hopeful future.
No matter where my wanderlust seems to take me, I feel that I am growing still from it, and do not regret the person that it makes me.
I am thankful for people who have been in my life whether it has been forever or only for a day, and I encourage everyone to find their happiness. Mine is the first step into a new country. A sunset over a new sky.