Recently, I had the opportunity to travel to my hometown to attend my high school reunion. I was excited about the trip for several reasons. I rarely travel without my children, and this visit was just for me. I would be able to see my parents, my sisters, and childhood friends with one night out on the town.
Traveling alone is a big deal in my mind. When I am visiting with my kids in tow, it’s a working vacation. The children still must be fed, bathed, clothed and entertained. I find these visits worthwhile, but I don’t get to just sit and soak up the feeling of being in my childhood home. I don’t get to linger in the nostalgia. This reunion visit was scheduled to be brief (5,400 miles in 3 days), but it would allow a little bit of undistracted time. I hoped to find moments to reconnect with the home in which I spent he first 18 years of my life. I could slowly eat my meals, look at the photos on the wall, hear the sounds of my parent’s city home, drive the streets I used to roam, and reflect.
The actual travel piece was a mess. Due to emergencies at Chicago O’Hare (my connection point both ways), none of my flights proceeded as booked. I ended up being juggled by 3 different airlines, and I never received my luggage for the entire duration of my trip. Running on survival mode, I made it to my hometown just before midnight where my sister H picked me up, took me directly to a Walmart that was open late so I could buy pj’s and some toiletries, and delivered me to my parents’ house for the night.
The next morning I confirmed with the airline that I would not be getting my luggage anytime soon, so I called in the Calvary. My sisters H & K came to my parents’ home with shoes, boots, dresses, accessories, hair styling devices, and hair product. My best friend from childhood was coming up to give me a ride and also offered her supplies. This combined with borrowing my parents’ car for a quick sweep of Target, and I had a back-up plan.
I prepped in the same bathroom that I used all throughout childhood with the supplies borrowed from my big sisters while my dear friend sat perched on the edge of the bathtub gabbing with me, just as she had done countless times before. Talk about nostalgia! It couldn’t have gotten more old school for me than that.
Next, I was off to main event. The reunion was a hoot. I got to see beloved friends with whom I’ve stayed close, and I got to chat with friends from long ago. Nothing takes you back like seeing people who knew you when you were 6 years old.
The true treat was staying up until 2 AM with my lifelong friend, both of us in our pj’s, eating french fries and talking over the important stuff of life just as we did for the first two decades of our existence.
The next morning I woke up, checked out of the hotel, lunched with my family, and headed to the airport. My journey back to Washington was difficult. I made it to Chicago but had to spend the night hanging out at my gate waiting for the only seat I could get on a flight to Seattle the following morning. I was exhausted, travel worn, and still wearing the same clothes that I’d been wearing for several days. As I sat there trying to keep it together in the wee hours of the morning while airport maintenance employees made the rounds, I questioned whether the trip was worth it. I knew it was, but I was really spent and struggled to stay positive.
The thing that got me through those moments was a newly acquired golden ban around my wrist. My sister H had given me a gift before I left. It is a bracelet on which is engraved the latitude and longitude of my childhood home. My sister had these made for all of our siblings. Whenever I felt about to unravel, I would hold the band…look at it….run my fingers over the engravings. It was a touching gift that went deep for me.
This entire trip was about reconnecting with my childhood home and the people and memories residing there, something I feel that I can’t do enough. I walked away with a tangible link to that home. It’s my own little nostalgia anchor right on my arm. It’s a family totem that transcends a physical building or town. It’s a piece of my old home made new for wherever life takes me.
In the end, while this particular journey did not go as planned, it brought me right back where I needed to be in mind and spirit. And while grateful for that piece, I am going to opt for carry-on luggage next time.
How do you stay connected to meaningful places far away?
This has been an original post for World Moms Blog by Tara B.
Credit for photo of frazzled author trying to buck up on a plane via her new gift goes to the author.