Lately, and I mean in the very recent days, I’ve allowed myself to indulge in what used to be one of my favorite mindless pastimes: scrolling through Airbnb listings to imagine the places I might someday go.
Before the pandemic, I did this all the time, particularly when I needed a break from the stress of work or life. I created lists for different cities in faraway countries, imagining what it might be like to wake up with this particular view, or to cook in some other kitchen, or to get ready for bed in that specific bathroom.
Sometimes, I was doing research for an actual trip; many times, I was indulging my wanderlust in a way that I could from right inside my everyday life.
When the pandemic arrived – when it hit that I’d be canceling the trip to Paris I’d been planning with my sister and college roommate – I stopped lots of things, and this was one of them. What was the point in planning imaginary travel, when I couldn’t even go to the movies? It left a strange hole in my life where my dreaming-self had been.
As time went on, I found other ways to indulge the curiosities I carry about other places. I resolved to speak French every day, and now am on a Duolingo streak of more than 500 days. I listen to radio stations from places I miss – WWOZ in New Orleans on Sunday mornings; Country Legends 97.1 when I need to remember the feeling of crossing the Causeway to Galveston – and have playlists of songs from other cultures.
But it wasn’t until the news came out that I may be able to soon get my little one vaccinated that I allowed myself back on Airbnb. I don’t know that we’ll be the first in line for the shot, and the pediatrician said that if I’m nervous, I could wait a month or so, but he trusts the science and down at the core of me, I do too. My baby has been on the front lines of the real-time experiment that is this vaccine: I got my first dose while he was in utero and my second just after he was born. I’ve nursed him since then, and have trusted that the booster I got may have also passed on additional antibodies to him. He’s stayed healthy, as have I, despite direct exposures, despite continued vigilance and caution.
So when the news about the vaccine for his age group came out last week, I found myself first nervous, and then emotional. The next day, I realized I’d started dreaming again, of taking him to the places I want him to know, the places I miss: the East Coast, Hawaii, Europe. I want travel to be a part of his life for many reasons, but I also want to share with him something I deeply love.
So I’ve started looking again. Entering in arbitrary dates, seeing what I can find. Seeking out the balconies, the neighborhoods, the views. And almost worried I’ll somehow be tempting fate, I finally started a list the other day, of places we might go together.
In the last two years, my wanderlust has not diminished, though of course so many other things have changed. My wish lists of homes, for example, now – for the first time – all include a crib. Maybe someday soon, we’ll be able to book one, and settle in, and try out life together in a totally different place. Here’s hoping – and I have to say, that feeling of hope is something special, indeed.