Something I remembered randomly this morning, as I tried to decide what to write about today, is that there have been many times when I’ve gotten sick while traveling. In fact, it’s so common that I’ve come to expect it.
On the way to the airport in London one year in college, returning from a Spring Break trip to visit our friend, I had to ask the taxi driver to pull over. Carsick, I ran into the restroom at a Burger King, and then returned to the idling car, laying my head in my roommate’s lap for the rest of the ride.
In Norway once, my eye swelled shut for no discernable reason. That resulted in a trip to the emergency room, where kind and competent doctors inspected me, gave me prescriptions, and apologized that they didn’t take U.S. insurance: it would be $100 out of pocket. That was such a delightful difference from the health care in this country that I actually laughed.
On my last trip to Paris, back in February 2019, I thought I’d escaped it. Yet the night before returning to the U.S., I found myself hunched over the toilet, throwing up for – as far as I could tell – no reason. Hours later, on a layover in Germany, I visited the airport pharmacy, where they gave me anti-nausea medication for both immediate and longer-term relief with a cup of water to take the pills right away and stern instructions about what I should eat in the airport, along with what I should avoid.
Why on earth am I writing about this?
Maybe I’m missing traveling so much that I’m romanticizing even the hard moments.
It’s coming up on summer again and I can’t avoid the fact that I’m restless. I want to go. Last week, I told a dear friend of mine that we can’t make it to her wedding in Hawaii next month, and I’m sad about it. I haven’t seen her since January 2020, when we randomly crossed over for an evening in Austin, and both our lives have changed so much since then: divorce, motherhood, and a new relationship on my end; love and the growth into being a stepmother on hers.
When it feels safe to travel again, when my <5 can get vaccinated, Hawaii is on the shortlist of places to go, after first making it to New York to meet my nephew. Paris is on that list too, any season. And a million other places – Galveston, Scotland, Portugal, Japan – including those I know well and those I’ve never been to before.
I never lose sight of how lucky I am, to love the world and to have had the chance to explore it some. I hope that – before too long – I can again start wandering, my sweet little one by my side, showing him that meeting the people and places of the world help us understand our own small corner of it. If occasionally we don’t feel our best in the midst of it, we’re still better for having those adventures.
Apparently, in hindsight, even those moments become something of nostalgia, something to long for when all we can do is stay in place. And if that’s not the magic of traveling, I’m not sure what is.