w r i n k l e d
ADVENTURES IN TRAVEL, WRITING AND AGING GRACEFULLY
For a while there, it was touch and go: When the house deal fell through for the second time, or when my brother decided not to move back to Chicago to take over the care of our parents. I would wake up in the middle of the night, feeling certain that Isoo’s heightened level of anxiety would be eradicated if only we canceled the trip. Our favorite family who had been living abroad for years was coming back just as we were headed their way. And in a stroke of irony, when we cashed out our investments to fund our travel, it was the exact amount we would need to finally do that dream upgrade on the house. So when I fractured my foot this summer, I didn’t need a cast to hit me over the head, it was clear we should stay put.
But finally it’s coming together. The house and car are sold, the cast is off, Chris gave notice at work, the kids are officially withdrawn from school. We’ve had our shots, gotten our International Driver’s Licenses, bought our luggage, set up our banking and switched over our phones. We even booked our flight to Dublin and nailed down housing for the first four months. I stay up late reviewing the itinerary, researching hotels, flooding my Pinterest boards with images of places I can’t wait to explore.
Nevermind that twelve years ago Chris and I did something similar: We sold our first home, a beautiful timber loft with floor to ceiling views of the Sears Tower, ditched our lucrative careers and moved to Ireland. It rained. Every. Single. Day. By the second month, we had already run through a chunk of our savings. Lonely and broke, chased inside by the incessant wet, we would sit in the window of our tiny apartment, soggy from Guinness and rain, and wonder what exactly was so courageous about buying a plane ticket, and whose stupid idea was this anyway? Three months later, circling the buffet table at Thanksgiving, my cousin, with a glint in his eye, leans over and says, “Hey, didn’t we just have a party for you? Back already?”
When I tell Betsy of our plans, she says, “That sounds awesome!” and then adds, “and I would never want to do it.” I lie awake at night. What if we get sick? What if dad dies while I’m gone? What if one of us gets kidnapped? What if the house we rented is a dump? What if we get robbed? What if we are too soft to travel like this anymore? What if we get homesick? And we won’t even have a home to come back to! What if I cannot teach 6th grade math? What if we end up hating each other? How will I survive without babysitters? What if I wake up in the middle of the night and there is rat in my hair? What if a monkey bites us? Or a bat? What if we get bedbugs? What if I get lonely? Will we all have diarrhea? Are we psychologically scarring the kids? How will I survive without sushi and Mexican food?
But the biggest worry of all: What if I’ve got this all wrong? What if we return (once again) penniless and defeated by our own sense of adventure? What if the only thing that matters is the people in your life? The home you’ve made for your family? Comfort and community and just being happy? Monroe Street Halloween, Friday dinners at Greenwood Beach, race training with the ladies, midweek lunches with Lisa, porch wine and book club and girls nights out? Must things be difficult to have cultural significance? Wouldn’t I rather have a dream kitchen that would serve me the rest of my life, than to spend the money touring Asia during monsoon season, navigating squat toilets and haggling over the price of a haircut? No? I say it once more, with conviction: NO! And so the house is sold, the car is sold, the job is quit, the tickets bought. A one-year trip around the world departing August 23.