I’m writing at a local hostel this afternoon. I feel a bit like an imposter–a local Portlander looking into the enchanted lives of all these travelers buzzing and connecting in the cafe around me.
I know my own life is enchanted as well, but in a different way that is marked by feeling settled, embracing joy, and opening to the bliss available in each day. I’m extremely grateful for my life, and yet I crave travel and the new perspective it can bring to my world.
I used to travel a lot, back when travel seemed like the logical thing to focus on. In my younger days, I was known for leaving friends, relationships, and jobs for the lure of an adventure. I harbored dreams of being a travel writer and spending my days making my way among the sights of the world. I read anthologies of women writers and imagined itineraries that inspired words and new experiences. It never quite happened though, and somewhere between trips I settled into life in the U.S. with a husband, child, dog, home, coaching practice, and garden. A great life on the whole, but as with most lives, it has had many bumps, mirroring the unexpected nature of travel. It’s all travel I suppose. Either in a tighter line close to home or a far flung line climbing without a rope in some remote mountain in Chile. The unexpected happens, and that’s more of a guarantee than a simple life that ticks along like a pocket watch.
So while I have a relatively tame life in urban Portland with myriad adventures into the woods and waters of Oregon, my journey has not been as simple as I expected.
For one, Michael should be here.
I hadn’t ever planned on living in Portland without him. I hadn’t planned on anything without him. I didn’t plan on parenting, owning a home, working, living, or travelling without him.
As I look back on the time since his death, I see how I’ve kept things pretty simple. My son and I are in the same home, school district, and neighborhood. The trajectory of my own career has been for the most partwhat I anticipated. As my son grows older, I have more and more freedom, and it all seems wonderful. Yet there’s a sense of it being a bit pedestrian as well.
We took that one trip to Hawaii and a winter foray to Costa Rica. Those trips were adventurous and bold but tinged with grief. I suppose everything this past five years has had a small personage of grief riding along. No longer in the drivers seat, or even riding next to me, but in the back or trunk, always a part of the picture.
I’m ready now for travel to be less about what we are missing or running away from and more about what we are going toward.
So what am I looking toward? Love.
Love not necessarily in the romantic sense, although I’m open to that coming in along the way! I’m talking a bigger kind of love. The kind of love Michael and I talked about before he died, the awareness of love that doesn’t have a boundary between this world and the next. I’m talking about the kind of love that can fill in the cracks between the hard spots of this world.
I’m talking about the love that has slowly taken hold in my heart over the last five years as I’ve healed through grief and loss. It’s the love that inspires kindness, random connections, and a general awareness that things are so much more precious and vulnerable than we ever let into our common awareness.
It’s the love that speaks to the question, “What would we do if these were our last moments here on earth?”
It’s a love that I want to share.
Not just while travelling but in my everyday life as well.
But travel is such a good playground for love!
It gets me out of my normal habits and expectations.
It opens me to wonder.
And we just happen to have an amazing trip to visit family in Europe coming up this week. I’m hoping to blog along the way and share our journey of love. I’m also aware that simply enjoying our time may take precedent over writing.
My intention as we travel is to share love, plain and simple. It’s the one thing that I know crosses all countries, boundaries, and languages. Even though separation, conflict, and fear pepper the pages of the news, I also know and trust that there’s something deeper available in the smaller connections, the openings between two beings sharing the same space on the planet. I’ll be looking for those openings and availing myself to possibility.