I often say that I don’t suffer from wanderlust at all — that I am most content at home with the comfort of my normal routine and my every day life. When I really think about it, though, I don’t know if this is true. As the beneficiary of my husband’s love of travel, I can make such a claim without actually having to live with the consequences of that position.
My partner in life is happiest when he is planning a trip, on a trip, or deciding what the next trip should be. If you are thinking that this is a fabulous trait to have in a spouse, you are correct. Although it can get a bit grating when he inquires in December about what we have on the calendar the following September 16- 22. As the master scheduler for school and sports and church and other activities, it is a bit stressful to commit to these adventures with no way to know what else we will have to contend with once they roll around.
Ironically, though, I have come to believe that this reality is the very best part of our escapes. Every day life can sometimes overwhelm you; with its mediocrity, its endless mundane requirements, its repetitive nature that finds most tasks undone mere moments after you have completed them. When this happens, it is so easy to lose sight of why you do what you do, and what is really important to you. I have found that getting out of that (dis)comfort zone is key to a refreshed appreciation and energy for my life.
This past week we went to Vail, Colorado where my husband was lecturing at a medical conference. After debating for a good bit about whether we should take the kids out of school for a couple of days to take advantage of this opportunity (given that they were JUST out SO long for Christmas and had other holidays and teacher workdays coming up), we finally decided to go for it. The boys love to ski, and it is typically a really special time with their dad.
This time was no different – everyone had a blast and even held it together after a brutal travel day out to Colorado from NC that put us arriving to our hotel around 2am. The boys bounced back like champs, skied with the grownups on all the tough runs, were polite and cordial to their dad’s colleagues, and didn’t beat the crap out of each other even one time.
And then it was time to head home. I was flying ahead with the boys since Kent still had two lectures to give at the conference, and we wanted them back with plenty of time to regroup before school the next day. Anxiety mounted as a massive snowstorm (not atypical for Colorado) moved through, dumping tons of snow with more expected. On the morning of our departure we left at 5:30 am in the shuttle transport from Vail to Denver, promptly got stuck in the snow picking up our fellow travelers, and finally FINALLY inched onto the highway and started the trek towards Denver.
Things were looking pretty good when suddenly everything stopped. All of the cars on the highway were motionless, as if parked in a stadium parking lot. Our driver was not surprised. “Yep,” he said, “Looks like avalanche control.”
Avalanche control? As I looked around at the driving snow, the ice packed across the road in thick sheets, the first glimmers of daylight simultaneously casting brightness upon a dull monochromatic landscape, I tried not to panic. Especially after hearing that avalanche control, while a typical thing in these conditions, usually lasts at least 30 minutes and could last an hour. There was no way we were going to make our flight.
But guess what? All of that turned out to be perfectly ok. We crawled to the airport, arriving four and a half hours after we were first picked up. We missed our flight, and crossed our fingers that we would make a stand-by spot on the next one, especially since all flights were full and oversold. It could have been a disaster. But it wasn’t – the boys rose to the occasion, hanging in there and behaving with more maturity than I had witnessed in months. When we did get on the later flight, they were unable to sit with me — but looked out for each other on the long ride home. In the very last two seats in the very back of the plane (or, “the opposite of First Class” as my oldest remarked), they did great.
It occurs to me that maybe we all need a dose of avalanche control — the things that inconvenience us, that bring us to a grinding halt, that make us aware of how little control we actually have in this life. Because those are the moments when we have the chance to demonstrate what we are really capable of. And to know that once it is all said and done, that we have what it takes to get where we want to be.
The last time we were in Colorado I had a fun time remembering when and why I gave up skiing the slopes forever. You can read about that adventure here . . .