“I can’t remember a time I’ve seen you this relaxed”, her husband said to her as soon as they landed. He couldn’t believe it. Her body language eased and her worries diminished. All things were taken care of for her so she could just exist and enjoy. She too couldn’t remember the last time this happened.
This week I spent a wonderful afternoon with a long-time friend and her three precious children. We’ve been friends for thirty years having experienced childhood, young adulthood and life as grown ups together. As we sat having a picnic lunch in the middle of my lounge room floor we tried to hold a conversation near and dear to my heart; one about the gifts of travel.
This is the year we turn forty. It seems more and more people Mat and I speak to have been opting for experiences and travel in lieu of gifts this year. My friend who has spent the last ten years focusing on raising her beautiful family chose travel as her birthday wish. Always putting her children first, she asked for a few days to spend just with her husband in a place she has never before been. Extended family travel has been a part of their lives for the past decade but amidst schedules, work, family, obligations and one quick weekend trip to the Caribbean nine years ago, there hasn’t been much time for the two of them to get away alone together.
Wish granted! Kept a surprise until they got to the airport, she got her wish. A few days in California, a state she had yet to step foot in, and time away with her love is what she was given, but those who have traveled before know the gift was far more than that. Her hubby handled all of the details. Even if I couldn’t hear all the specifics over the roar of her three year old and his trucks or the laughter of the six year old, I could see the sparkle in her eyes and the smile on her face.
Travel is a wonder all its own that doesn’t discriminate. No matter when you experience it or how, it still finds its way to add its own magic into your life. She raved about the sights in San Francisco, the scenic drive up the coast and the joy of having a chance to just sit, listen, learn and spend time with her husband sipping wine under an oak tree in Napa Valley. She was awed over the beauty of the resort, the fresh taste of the food, the relaxation she found and the ability to reconnect with her husband, nature and herself without the tug and pull of everyday life. Together, in the joys of travel, they made even more memories as a couple.
Whether its years in a location-independent existence, an intergenerational journey, a solo road trip or that birthday wish spent with the one you love, travel is special. Its gifts continue into the everyday existence and we are forever changed. My friend got her wish of time spent and travel experienced. She too was touched by the journey and the inner peace it often brings.
Later that afternoon we took the kids to the playground on the beach adjacent to my building. They wrote their names in the sand, slid down the slide, climbed on everything and smiled as the sun hit their faces. They played, we chatted. The gift worked it’s magic. Often it’s me talking about a trip I want to take or a place I’ve yearned to visit; but this time was different. In her own way, the travel bug too bit her. This time when I asked, “where else do you want to go”, her eyes glistened as she rattled off her list. I took pleasure in knowing that whenever she gets there and however it happens, she too will continue to experience the gifts of travel. Happy 40th birthday, my friend.