10 August, 2010

Redefining Travel: Celebrating My 30s

I am a traveler.  Once bit by the travel bug, I adapted quickly to the life of someone who lives in a different place every year; someone without deep physical roots.  The idea of settling down was not one I embraced.  I didn’t intend to settle down, to have a house, or to have roots.  My professional ambitions involved travel; my home away from home was the nearest airport. 

I had a choice, when I had my daughter, create a home for her that involved a “home” or move, and move, and move with her and all the stuff the kids need and acquire.  I could find a place in the burbs or be a gypsy. 

I think I made the choice without realizing that I had made a choice – not really at least.  

When I learned I would return to Virginia, I sat down at the computer, found the school I would like my daughter to attend, and set forth to find us a “home” in that neighborhood.  Before my 31st birthday, I had signed papers; I bought a house. 

I spent the next few years rebelling against myself every few months.  It isn’t that I felt caged or trapped, it is that I love movement.  The house required a financial investment that could have gone toward travel.

I adjusted.

I learned to appreciate staying in one place.

I learned the importance of living in one place for my daughter and her personality.

I suppose that I let go and knew that I would travel again when the time was right.

As it happened, I learned to redefine travel.  In my 20s travel meant being outside of the States.  It meant foreign cities and cultures and traveling with a backpack.

In my 30s travel started to mean exploring the States themselves.  It meant seeing nature again through my daughter’s eyes, taking road trips through different states, exploring history in Virginia and Pennsylvania; and spending time in DC.  I didn’t stop traveling, as it happens, I started expanding in different directions.

In the past few years I have found balance in my traveling – I have balance in that I have a home and yet I travel.  I can spread my wings and fly in different directions, not needing to traverse oceans to explore and discover and learn.  I can give my daughter the stability she needs in one home while still giving her the joy and challenges of experiencing life outside the home and the neighborhood and beyond.

All it took was opening my mind and considering different definitions – or expanding my definition to include so much more than international flights from a changing venue of airports.

As I approach 40, my daughter has a passport.  She no longer requires the stability of a specific home as she once did to the point that she likes the idea of living abroad.  I am more open to traveling through different means – road trips, train trips, or other cultures and countries through theater and music.  The choices I made at 31 proved to expand my horizons more than I ever could have imagined! 


Meredith said...

If someone had told me even five years ago that I would long for a stable place in this world, for a spot of ground to put down some roots, I'd have thought they were nuts. I was a confirmed traveler until then, never happy in one place for long, living abroad, living in the States, but always on the move.

Gradually, though, the need to sit still came upon me, the need to get to know a single place and claim it. Now, at 37, and knowing we will be forced to move again in 6 months, I feel a bit adrift, my wanderlust stirring from the attic dust even as I wish for the perfect place to just *settle down*.

It's so strange, how our needs and tastes change. In your case, it is inspirational that you opened doors for yourself by going with what was needed at the time for your daughter.

Aileen said...

Oh this resonates with me very strongly! My fear of having a child is how it will change my life and how to still be me. Your words inspire me and tell me there are ways. You have found a way to keep your travel through the years and your desire for it is alive and well and your world expands.

I love this post