Travel has always been my vice. A friend of mine used to tell me that the reason she thought I loved travel was that it took me away from the reality of the everyday. She knew I loved the adventure but wasn’t certain that the day-today minutiae was for me (even though she knew that at the time I adored my profession). Needless to say, that from the beginning of my teaching career (and for many years prior to it and since) I booked a holiday for every break we had. Summers were spent working, but school breaks were meant for holiday relaxation.
My parents and I would discuss my spending money on these holidays and we had the same conversation every time. If you told me I had $1500 and I could buy a new couch or a take week away, I didn’t have to think about my answer. My parents and many friends often picked the couch – I picked Club Med or some semblance of adventure getaway. Whether my brain or my soul was wired that way – I didn’t have any idea (I now know it to be true), but my answer never swayed. At the time, for me, I couldn’t fathom wanting any other option.
I often had this conversation with a friend of mine from school. When any woes regarding money would come up (for the both of us), we chatted about the few things that we did to keep costs down throughout the rest of the year so that we could fling a larger sum on a credit card and await the arrival of an adventure anew. We had different choices, different needs and a strong friendship. She loved buying a cup of coffee everyday and I didn’t touch the stuff. She liked going out to eat once in awhile and I brought my lunch everyday. She has a huge family that exchanged many holiday gifts and mine was smaller and didn’t involve too many wrapped items. What got me at the time was she had a coffee maker at home, but always preferred the experience of getting her cup of coffee on the way to work – I didn’t think it was a judgement, but I couldn’t understand it and wasn’t close to accepting it either – now I know different.
I owe my friend an apology. I’m sorry – I get it now. It took Mat and me a long time to get to San Diego, but when we did, every day felt like a holiday. Of course, I don’t mean it as direct as it sounds. We still had to find work, there were bills to pay, there were doctors’ visits to go to, someone had to make dinner and do the laundry, the car needed fixing and all of the everyday stuff was still there – yet something was different. That something is what I couldn’t understand then, yet do now. Her everyday cup of coffee from the deli is my playing outside – I get it now. I’m sorry I didn’t get it then, but damn am I glad I get it now.
Perhaps it’s the sunshine that surely runs through my veins or the positive effects of vitamin D, but fifteen years ago I couldn’t grasp where what I thought was her ‘everyday holiday’ came from and now I can. Perhaps, everyday in that cup of joe she found joy, a little piece of fun, a little jolt of energy and a little ounce of free spiritedness. If it brought a smile to her face, who really cares what it was – right? But at the time, nope, I couldn’t get it – I’d choose to save every penny to spend it on where my joy was (and in February in New York that was on a sunny beach somewhere else) and I couldn’t grasp that find a bit of happy in your morning even if it cost a few dollars along the way. San Diego helped me understand, and although I thought I did my best before to be judgement free – I’m trying even harder now to be acutely aware of that fact. And today (in the middle of a New England winter), as I sit in my car at a New York beach and grab precious vitamin D through my closed windows – I finally understand. For years I thought it was only about the beach; but, with this upheaval, more yoga and mindfulness, my Dad’s passing and a shift in so many things (both by choice and without) – I found the comprehension, that awareness of a detoxification of judgment and perhaps, even full acceptance.
I’ve realized that in the three years we lived in San Diego we didn’t travel internationally anywhere near as much as we had in the past. Perhaps we told ourselves it was for monetary reasons or otherwise, but I think it was more the cup of coffee (of which I still don’t drink, yet the husband adores). We found it – that everyday holiday feeling and for the first time I didn’t feel the same sense of urgency to book those flights at a particular time of year. Don’t get me wrong, my travel vice hasn’t waned – for anyone who knows me, it’s still very present – but it feels different. Perhaps finding that outside everyday contentment ebbed the flow. It lessened the grasp, the grip and the need and put the ease back in the daily existence. Let’s be real – yoga helps too. The daily vitamin D revived my spirit as the caffeine in that magical, saran wrapped cup revitalized hers.
She and I both share a strong addiction to sunshine, sand and sea and summer (and toes in the sand kind of days) is without question, the favourite for us both. Having that access all year long was what I needed. It gave me the boost to work on the other stuff and know that whether it was a trip to Australia for a wedding in winter, a New York visit in March or November or a rainy day in the height of a San Diego marine layered summer – there was more to come, more to enjoy and another day of outside access. It may be fifteen years later – but thanks to that summer loving friend and her joy-filled cup of coffee, I learned an invaluable lesson and for that I am forever grateful.