"Traveler" by April Doner
“Yep,” I reply. “I changed my whole life for the move out of state for his job. Retired, sold my office and rented out the house to the kids. All but packed up Jake the dog. Ready to leave and… the relationship ended, just like that!”
"But why travel around the world? And solo at that??"
Because it’s time. Everything in my being says, “It’s time to go.”
The ending of the relationship happened hours before I went into a sweat-lodge. I relish the steamy, sweaty experience of prayer-time in the dark and seek it out during times of confusion. That night I certainly needed clarity. What in the heck was I going to do -- homeless, no job, no sweetheart…?
Clarity came the next morning when Lindsay came up to me at breakfast and pronounced: “I’m graduating from college in a month and then working on organic farms in Ireland and Italy. Want to come?”
“Yes,” my heart jumped. My whole being leaned into the leaving. “I can do this,” my experience reasoned. And just like that I announced that I was traveling around the world solo for at least a year.
And my family’s reactions? Saddened by the ended relationship, my grandson Jonathan patted my back, “I gotcha, Nanny.” Grandchildren Ashton and Kendra high-fired, “Yay, single squad!” Son Don worries that I’ll come home in a wheelchair. (Well, I did once.) Daughter-in-law Heather is a tad jealous. Brother Tim, the trustee for the will, gave a finger-pointed warning -- “Don’t die!” And I think everyone else chalked the choice up to my usual adventurous behavior. (Called the “weird aunt” by some and “cool aunt” by others.)
It’s definitely time to go. As much as I loved him and the relationship, that string is broken. For the second time in my life there are no strings. Think about it. When is that special window when the family is mostly responsible for itself, health is reasonable, mind is functional and there might be just enough money? Retirement! Now is my Second Chance World Tour!
The first chance to tour the world was at age 19 on a study program with students and professors. With the schedule of the International Honors Program and three foot long airplane tickets, we tasted the cultures, lived with families and researched our special interests. Mine was comparative medical systems. Imagine waking up on your birthday to a snowfall in Jerusalem. Or playing ping-pong with Ayurvedic medical students in India. Or accompanying visiting nurses and an acupuncturist in Hong Kong tenements. It sure changed my world view! And prepared me to think outside the box before Medical School. (What box?”)
Over the ensuing years I’ve had a recurring dream. I’m about to get on an airplane with those 30 students and my children pull me back. Or the partner complains that I can't leave for that long. Pulled in two directions by wander-lust and by those I love.
But no longer! Daughter April and son-in-law Trae are my cheering squad. In addition to giving me a techie and social-media crash course, they are renting the house, playing with Jake and hopefully caring for 50 fruit trees and acres of edible plantings.
Friends gifted me at my “Launch Party” with tiny scraps of paper full of blessings, love and travel advice. (Packing light.)
And I’m off for a year! (Please make it two, April begs.) The Where and What and How questions will be answered en route. First stop, Prague -- because I’m told it’s beautiful. Then a two week stay at the Balkan Ecology Project in Bulgaria to learn more permaculture. After that? Well, stay tuned. When you "travel with wonder" you never quite know what’s around the bend.
Signing off, my friends. “It’s time to go!”