Travel Bug

“Do you ever write about it?” I asked Ish a couple months ago.

“What? Oh that? Nah,” he replied, shrugging. “But it WAS pretty cool...”

* * * * * *

My parents took me to Italy once. I was two, and my dad had to go for business, so my parents made it into this long, grand vacation. All I can remember is chasing pigeons around Venice, and being very excited by all the stairs. (Apparently, I’d just learned to climb them. To me, Venice was one big playground.)

I have never otherwise been outside of the country.

For a long time, I didn’t have much interest in traveling. When I was the age where many American kids start to get the travel bug (if they don’t have one already), I decidedly didn’t. “Backpacking around Europe” seemed like something young people did. I didn’t feel young. I felt like I wanted to get married and settle down and find some stability for once.

A few years later, when I realized “stable” wasn’t all I thought it would be, I uprooted myself completely. Traveling somewhere exotic/far/interesting seemed inevitable. Except once I moved to San Francisco, any time I had the money or vacation time enough to go anywhere, I could only go one place: back home. I’d moved 3,000 miles from my ailing mother and felt guilty about it. I couldn’t just go off and go on a vacation. I flew back east about six times that first year.

Then after my mom died (June of ’02), well. I would save up money and vacation time, and use it to go back home. First my sister got married in November. Then I had to return for Christmas (that’s non-negotiable). Then I had to spend two weeks the following summer to help my family move my father from an enormous farmhouse full of nearly 30 years of my family’s history to a much smaller home. (That was a gut-wrenching experience I’ll write about some other time.)

Finally, it seemed that I could maybe start saving money (and time) to visit the East Coast for Christmas, and maybe-just-maybe go somewhere else in the spring/summer.

But then my dad got sick.

His cancer wasn’t like my mom’s – it seemed entirely beatable, or at least possibly beatable – but he had cancer all the same. I wasn’t about to go off to Paris while I could be spending that time with my family.

* * * * * *

And so that’s how it’s been. Someday, with the right resources and timing, I will see the world. Or at least, more of it.

In the meantime, I remain absolutely awed and inspired by (and jealous of) people who have traveled. You know? To me, it's just always seemed so damned impossible. But then there are people like Ish.

I am astounded by Ish’s experiences in China. When I first met him, I was blown away by the fact that he could speak Chinese. CHINESE. I mean, I can barely piece together sentences in FRENCH, and that’s after having taken it for EIGHT YEARS*.

And when I learned that he'd not just visited China but actually lived and worked there, simply because he thought it would be interesting, I was floored.

Yep. Definitely someday.

*Je m'appelle Kristy. Le chat est sur la chaise. Je n'aime pas les maths. Ouvrez la fenetre!

* * * * * *

"I think it's unbelievably brave what you're doing. Telling your divorce story on your blog," he said.

"Oh yeah? Well I think it's incredibly brave that you up and MOVED TO CHINA. So there."

“Hmm. I guess I could blog about that sometime, huh?”

Yes. Yes, you could.


  1. Italy is a place I'd love to visit myself some day. Most of my yours...involves seeing family.

  2. I took my first week vacation in four years last year and decided to visit family. my god, i'm a single mom who works nights and is tired all the time, and that "vacation" had me more exhausted than anything i do involving work at home. this year, i'm taking my son camping in big sur and then up to SF for a couple days and the family can go stuff themselves. lol real vacation for me this time.

  3. i just think you are fantastic. Thanks for your blog. It really makes my day sometimes.

    and yes i feel like the consummate retard making this post, but it just had to be said.

  4. just a word of encouragement that travel overseas seems a lot more difficult than it really is. i'm currently in college and still manage to put away every last waitress tip to head overseas every other year. sure, if you want five stars its more complicated, but to experience the REAL culture is pretty dang affordable. the first time i went i bought the ticket from Seattle to Amsterdam and the rest fell into place over there. go for it!

  5. Hi Kristy...

    You know, after Italy with your parents and G&G (tons of slides with you running around in your levis and pigtails -- little has changed!!) I thought you'd been to Europe in high school...

    I've gone a few times, that's true. I was going to say going to Europe alone reinforces my confidence in my ability to rely on myself, reinforces my personal sense of adventure, reinforces my German, allows me to say the only thing i know how to say in norwegian with a really authentic accent(jeg er ikka fra norge) etc... and that i could definately see you going over for similar reasons and loving how you are there. But then i thought... Kristy you know how it feels to do this because you've done it too really.. CT to CA... hopping in your car, KikiTheBrave, being a pilgram - wow, that takes guts. London, Cardiff, Stirling, Oslo, Innsbruck, Dejon(our moms loved it there in hot air balloons!)-- I'd go with you if you ever wanted... i like some tourist stuff because sometimes just seeing something historical is such a treat, but i like to focus on local events... grocery shopping, buying sox, local music, pubs, garden shops, cottages by seas... Iceland Air is a great way to get there too... less expensive and i think they fly out of sfo too. ~ Been thinking about you. Hope you're hanging in there. Lisa xo

  6. I hear you on the language thing. All I remember is "Donner moi le papier" (I think). I heard this frequently when caught passing notes...

  7. delurking to say, sigh, i hear ya. both my folks have/are fighting the cancer as well and all my travel is saved (both money and time) to make sure i see them as much as possible. i too, however, dream and plan of much grander vacations that one day i will actually take.

    oh, and thanks for all the sharing. it is incredibly brave and i hope a bit therapeutic as well.

    back to lurking, your IIF...s.

  8. I have always taken a vacation that centered around visiting family, even when I took a class in Italy, it involved staying with my extended family there afterwards...the boyfriend and I dream of upcoming financial security and being able to take a trip to Japan, or someplace else for a bit...just to. Without the family obligation.

    Go for it, then hurry back and tell us about that funny guy in Thailand/Japan/South Africa/Peru...etc.

  9. It's true that family is time consuming and it can be hard to feel free enough to travel for vacation when you have to travel to see family. It's funny, though, the way it works out sometimes. I have always been away from home when close family members died, for example, and so have the rest of my family. And in some cases, we regretted it, others, not so much. But the travel bug is a fantastic thing to have! When you get your chance to travel, you'll love it! I'll help you plan! :-)

  10. I lived in Finland as an exchange student my junior year in high school. Definitely one of my more memorable periods. Living abroad changes your life, especially when you’re 16 and dying to get away form where you are. My bf is in China with his mom right now, I’m so jealous. But not too jealous since I’m leaving for Costa Rica in less than 2 weeks, OMG I can’t wait! I haven’t been on a proper vacation in so long since I’m in a situation where I spend pretty much all my travel time and money visiting family back in WI. But I’m taking this trip with my sisters and cousin so it’s vacationing and spending time with family. :)

  11. I spent 9 years in Uncle Sams Travel Club, saw 12 countries. Lived on base in two (Spain and Crete) I long to go back. I take vacations to places afar whenever I can.
    But you know what? I long for the kind of relationship you have with your family. Me, My brother and parents are more like long lost friends than family.
    But I get to travel guilt free. sigh. sucky trade off sometimes.
    Much Love from Seattle

  12. I saw it's high time to get started.

    First stop: Get your passport. It just makes you feel like you could go anywhere at any time.

  13. In the meantime, I remain absolutely awed and inspired by (and jealous of) people who have traveled. You know? To me, it's just always seemed so damned impossible.

    I hope this isn't too egotistical of me, but I can't help but feel like maybe I've fueled this a bit with my trip. You know, I always felt the same way, and always had the "someday, when I have the time, money .... "

    But somehow life always seemed to get in the way. I *almost* let it get in the way this time.

    But I didn't, and you know why? Because life will ALWAYS get in the way, and if you wait for the perfect time for something -- you'll miss it. It's really that simple.

    It's not exactly like I can *afford* this trip (hello, credit debt! thank you student loans!)

    but I realized the quote on the CL travel forum is right:

    "Never take a trip you can afford."

    I wasn't in the author's head, but I'm pretty sure they meant it more than monetarily.

  14. when we were young my Dad paid for vacations we couldn't afford so that today we have memories that are priceless.

    Kristy, where are you thinking of going? what would you like to see and do?

  15. Kristy,
    If you ever find yourself in London, look me up :)

    I'm moving over there on a working holiday visa, I'm 31 and single and childless and I just quit my very stable and secure job today after 10+ years.

    Sometimes, you just gotta Do!

    The first trip I ever went on was in spring 2003 for three months to Europe and I was 28 and terrified and figured I was too old and wouldn't fit in with anyone.

    Three years and three mega trips later (Europe, UK, Mexico) I can tell you that people of all ages, races, backgrounds and lifestyles travel everywhere and it's the best thing you can do for yourself. I can never afford it, yet I do it all the time because it's what keeps my nose to the grind the rest of the year: the payoff of filling my time in exotic places doing what I love to do!

    So now I'm making a MOVE overseas for a year, or two, or three, or four, or ??? If you told me three years ago I'd be quitting my job to continue to travel and work abroad, I would have laughed hysterically.

    Travel changes who you are. It's also made me come to appreciate what's right outside my door, locally, but being so far away from home...there's nothing like it. Standing in Greece at sunset, I felt further from home than I'd ever been in my life and it was the most amazing, inspiring, soul-nuturing moment in my life.

    Go for it. And come through London along the way. :) I'll show you a good time!


  16. A gift that was supposed to be so that my father-in-law and mother-in-law could go back for D-Day celebrations to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary (early) turned into a son/father trip because my mother-in-law's back was bad.

    Long story short: it was so tremendously meaningful that my sweet father-in-law came to babysit our three children so we could experience England NOW, not many many years later. He died four months later. He opened the door for us to see the world together while we still were somewhat young.

    Your writing made me remember that gift. And be grateful for it.

  17. K ~ Wow, we both have the bug! Your post is timely because two weeks ago I decided what I'm going to do. Sell my house in 2007, quit my job (I'll have 10 years and will get retirement bennies), sell everything I own and go travel the world for at least 5 years. Me 'n my backback! is a GREAT resource!

  18. I too, have never been outside of the country (the english-speaking side of Canada for a week with a teen tour camp doesn't count).

    I kind of want to go ... somewhere. But. But I don't speak or understand any foreign languages, to the point that I barely know which foreign language I'm hearing when I'm in the Mission. But I'm so picky about food that I'm scared there'd be nothing for me to eat in another country. But I get lost in the mall in my hometown and come close to crying so how could I be in a foreign country?

    And that's how you come to be almost thirty and not even know how one would go about getting a passport. Because to you, sleeping over at a friend's house is a Very Big Adventure.

  19. I am so happy that I found your site. It appears we have some things in common besides knitting. Thought you might want to be the first to see the pattern for the triple lindee!


Post a Comment

Popular Posts