What seemed to be a major turning point in my life back then makes me laugh now. Like gazing at old photographs or home movies, changes are obvious on the outside. People grow older with time. Babies and children advance in normal stages of growth to reach adulthood. Opening a high school yearbook has us smiling and remarking on what the styles were back in our youth. I’ve aged nine years since making a decision to live a life with more meaning. The physical signs of change are noticable. It’s the inner changes made within a person that may or may not be seen by others. If I knew then what I know now…
I admire people, especially my friends and family who travel every year. Sometimes several times a year. They take trips to such wonderful places and bring back awesome pictures for me to admire and appreciate. I enjoy listening to their stories of annual vacations or visits with relatives.
So–what’s the big deal about me getting emotional about a one week vacation for myself? Everybody travels in America. Our forebears passed down to their descendants a trait of wanderlust. From landing on the Atlantic shores until Americans filled the Pacific shores, everyone moved west. And when everybody filled this great country we call home–we began to leave it. Packed the suitcases in the station wagons or mini-vans and drove the family somewhere, anywhere, just for the experience of taking a vacation. Dropped the bags at the bus station or train station or airline terminal because Americans are traveling. And not only in our own country. We travel all over the world. And our world is getting smaller and smaller. Just like my world was very small in 2002.
I love to drive. Severely dislike (won’t say hate) flying in an ariplane. Saw “Titanic” and “The Poseidon Adventure” on too many times, so I’m not sold on cruising. My days of taking long road trips were many years in the past. The three oldest children were grown and married. My son was at an age where he’d disown me if I demanded he accompany me along my journey. I didn’t once stop and consider that I shouldn’t go alone on this trip. However, when I thought about it, my last road trip was seven years earlier when my son and I moved from Cape Coral, Florida back to Ohio in 1995.
And there I stayed. A few years later, circumstances found me beginning a new life as a divorced woman in her mid-forties. I could have returned to Florida or moved any place else, but I lived in Medina County so my son could remain in the same school district. He kept the same friends and lived near many cousins to grow up with, so I gave him a stable life.
A stable and predictable life. He went to school and I worked in an office in order to be home nights and weekends. I worked and paid the bills. Worked a few more years but the bills never seemed to go away. If I decided I didn’t want to work so much, then the bills wouldn’t get paid. The struggle to live paycheck to paycheck didn’t leave much for extras. Yet I managed to save a tiny nest egg for a future dream. After raising my son, I could move away. Leave Ohio and settle in Maui–and write. someday. If the car didn’t break down and no emergency happened to deplete my savings.
In the four years since I became a single mother, taking a long vacation from work didn’t fit well in my routine plans. I didn’t see the importance of traveling someplace to have a carefree and fun time with my son. One thing I learned about raising a teenage boy–they don’t like hanging out with their mothers. Oh, they love them and my son loved me and that I took care of him, but the older boys grow, the less they want to be seen with their mothers–going anywhere together, at any time!
So my predictable life revolved around work weeks and busy weekends of running errands or driving my son to school events and picking him up after school. In summertime, it was dropping him off at his friends’ houses or running more errands. In 2002, he was old enough to drive and all seniors in high school MUST have a car. New routine with more of the same old repetition as weeks turned into months and the Ohio seasons changed. Nothing in my life was going to change until he graduated from high school. Then I could move.
The logistics of my taking a vacation away from the office was a bit tricky. As accounting manager for a small company, I was financial management. Certain procedures and duties were my sole responsibility. And if I left the office for a week, no one else could do my work, so it would pile up on my desk. I wanted so much to take this road trip. I entertained thoughts of quitting my job if the boss told me he couldn’t spare me being gone the first week of July. The answer is no.
I asked anyway. My very gracious employer told me to go and have a great vacation! I made arrangements to work a half day on July first in order to process the weekly payroll and pay the taxes for the company. Other than that, I looked forward to a week’s paid vacation.
It was a step in the direction of turning my life around. To begin an inner journey of asking for what I needed. A turning point in a life stuck on serving others, but losing my snese of purpose in the process. How long can a woman please her children, her family, her friends, her employers and co-workers before she hits a brick wall and shouts out to all, “STOP! I have needs too! I want to do this for me. No matter what you all think or say or do–this is important to me!”
Support is great from others who care about you. Even if you don’t get full cooperation from them, support yourself and your dreams. That’s what I did. I claimed time for myself. July 1-7, 2002. Once I knew my vacation was approved, I got so excited to begin planning the journey. My son was like, “Yeah, cool. Go alone, you’ll be fine. I’m not worried.” Then my daughter and the ex-husband echoed their concerns about my traveling along the highways and in Philadelphia as a woman alone. I didn’t listen to their fears, the “what if something goes wrong” attitude.
I just wanted to share about how much of a BIG deal it was for me to break out of my routine and decide to take a vacation. For a woman who used to plan long distance vacations when the kids were all young enough to pile into the station wagon, this road trip was unburying my American wanderlust! I dared to claim my right to put my dreams first in my life. This vacation trip was important. Something inside urged me to break out and do the things I doubted I deserved to do for myself.
Full circle. In 2002, this was a newly born way of thinking, that I could do what I wanted and believe in the validity of my choices. Nine years later, as I review my journal notes for this blog, I smile. If I could go back in time to tell that single mother with dreams of writing and living on Maui, that her journey to celebrate turning fifty on July fourth in Philadelphia was just the beginning. I would tell her to plan the adventure with all her heart and soul. It was a turning point in my life. If I hadn’t taken that vacation and gone on that road trip, it’s doubtful I would have had the courage and commitment to leave everything I knew and loved behind in Ohio one year later.
From determination to planning———-