In my twenties, I didn’t travel. Firstly, I thought it was a hassle to organize. Asking people to feed pets, water plants and collect the mail. Notifying relevant people that you would be going on holiday… Then there was the necessary bookings, planning and packing. Getting to a place and then unpacking, only to throw it all back into a suitcase and come home exhausted. Secondly, there was the cost. Hell, a night out in the city costs a pretty penny, without adding a room on top. It all seemed too hard, both from a practical point of view and a financial one.
Then, life happened. You know, adulting. For the uninitiated, adulting involves banks and loans and bills and responsibilities. It gifts you sickness, retrenchment, scoundrels and general weariness. Jaded and cranky, I decided that I could either stay home, and be unproductive, or go away and learn a new way of being. I chose the latter. What I have found in the past eight years of travelling has been gold. I have met people who have become lifelong friends, had strangers entrust me with their stories, and have come home revived.
The last trip I had away was with my daughter aboard a ship, halfway to New Zealand to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Now this ship had the décor of an 80’s bordello, an overpriced bar and confusing map, but we had a ball. We declined the photographers ready to spring, offering us expensive group photos. We knew we were glorious, and didn’t need glamour shots to prove it. We were there with our mates, away from the everyday with nothing but ocean surrounding us. Our cabins were cleaned and we had food provided. Heaven! I was finally alone with my thoughts, as I reclined on a deck chair, my eyes closed against the glorious sun. I talked with many people from all over Australia, and learnt of their lives, their hopes and tragedies. Our friendship group talked, laughed and had tremendous fun. My child flew over the ship on a flying fox, hollering with joy. We laughed as a gust of wind threw the contents of a friend’s wine glass back onto her face and laughed some more when a confused buddy asked if the ship was floating. “I bloody-well hope so!” I retorted. I use a walking stick and in my attempt to dance at a Gatsby party, managed to throw it, hitting a man nearby. I sat back down in shame, and drank a delicious gin-infused cocktail. I was a little freaked out (a lot), when I woke on the last day and the carpet in my cabin was damp! Turns out that it had been raining heavily during the night, and my cabin had leaked!
My mate Bronwyn has always inspired me. Curious about the world and its inhabitants, she doesn’t wait for invitations; she creates her own outings. She has taken herself to the theatre, concerts and many other happenings. She knows she is worth a night out, and confidently goes unaccompanied. She met a new friend on board, and the ladies have already organized another little cruise. Bronwyn has a magic about her. Happy to be with her friendship group, but equally happy to entertain herself. It means that she is in your company because she wants to be, and not because she needs you to fill a deep cavern in her psyche. Magic!
I came away from this four days away with a renewed sense of self. I came away refreshed and with a new perspective. I learnt more about my friends, their history and their dreams. I learnt more about myself, my strengths and ability to recover from setbacks. I came back with a new vision, and restored clarity of mind. Planning my next adventure is paramount. We all need something to look forward to. If it involves the ocean or a forest, my soul will be better for it. To hear the citizens of the world table their stories; to share snippets of lives with crew and passengers, this is what makes life worth living. Even if you have to eventually return to your adulting ways.