The Trip

Source of Photo: Norman Rockwell Museum (Saturday Evening Post)

I am not a great traveller. There, I said it. I am a homebody. I like my quiet routines. I love my cat. I love my dog. I like knowing that my little domain is safe and cared for. I like keeping an eye on things.

You know those people we see on the news in a natural disaster? The entire county might be in the midst of a full-scale evacuation but there is that one crazy family that is standing firm, ready to single-handedly stave off that hurricane, fire, flood or other calamity? They do not intend to budge. They are staying put. They, and they alone, will protect their home from whatever is coming.

While I sometimes question their sanity, I understand their motivation. Things happen: hurricanes strike, floods arrive, water pipes burst, houses catch fire. The only thing a homebody can possibly do is to hover as near their house as possible and be ready to take on whatever calamity strikes it.

Crazy? Sure and it is. But it’s hard to reason with yourself when you are in the grips of unfounded and unreasonable fears that are firmly based in very statistically-real possibilities.

My husband is a rolling stone. He is restless. He craves adventure, novelty, change. It is one of the universe’s great mysteries, how the two of us ended up together. Oh, yes, and he hates the winter: ‘hates’ with a capital ‘H’. From the time that first snow flake falls gently through the ether and softly lands on our lawn, he is planning his escape to a sunnier, warmer climate.

“Our trip is booked.” Those four little words sent my anxiety into hyper overdrive back in mid January. I have been putting that trip off for several years now. The last time we had booked ‘the’ trip and literally had our bags packed and ready to go, was late February 2020.

You know, that time when the entire world simultaneously went into lockdown.

I am ashamed to admit that despite the circumstances (and we all well remember how the beginning of a global pandemic feels) my relief was palpable. We didn’t know, yet, that everything would work out. We didn’t know, yet, that while too many people would succumb to Covid, the entirety of human civilisation was not going to go extinct. And yet, despite all the fear and uncertainty back in early 2020, my overriding emotion was one of relief: I would not have to leave my home (even the irony, five months later, when every man, woman and child on the planet couldn’t wait to leave their blasted homes did not quite dampen my sense of relief).

Besides being a rolling stone, my husband is the least patient man I have ever met, bar none. I held him off as long as I could but by winter 2023, he had had enough. This trip was happening. He was eager. He was ready. He was champing at the bit.

I took the news of our pending trip as one would take the news of being headed to the gallows. ‘What about the cat? And the dog?’ was my first panicked thought. ‘What if a pipe freezes and bursts while we’re gone?’ was the thought that galloped through my brain shortly thereafter, followed by ‘How will I speak to Mom everyday?!’ (Mom has dementia: I always answer the phone when she calls). All of these worried ruminations were shortly superseded by the one thought that is guaranteed to give me insomnia for weeks: ‘What will the kids do with all this stuff if we die on this trip???

Oh, how I wanted to tell my husband to just go without me. But I had given my word and that is something I never take back lightly. Neither did I want to dampen his spirits by telling him how anxious I was feeling. That would just ruin the trip and make him want to cancel (and not in a nice way) the whole thing.

‘I can do this,’ I resolved to myself. ‘I can tackle each and every thought that is causing me anxiety. I will make a ‘to do’ list: I will get through each item on that list. I will find someone who can simultaneously feed the cat and check the water pipes in the house each day. I will make sure to show them how to latch the front door ‘just so’ because otherwise, the door will blow open if the wind picks up. If that happens, the pipes will freeze. And the cat will get out. Or other critters will get in. I will sort through that jumbled mess of my ancestry project – once and for all – and I will leave it in one nice binder, along with a loving note, for the kids. I will get rid of all the useless stuff I don’t need and never look at (so the kids don’t have to do this for me, when I am gone or worse still…throw everything out without even looking at it…). I will purge at least five items a day until I can find nothing more to purge. I will finally sort and organise all the photos on my computer. I will download – and file – all the photos on my phone. I will finally get all my blog posts together in some sort of book for the kids. I will file – or discard – all those little scraps of paper and ‘to do’ lists I keep all over the house. I will get my affairs in order (in case we die on this trip). I will…”

Well, that list just went on and on and on.

As you may be able to imagine, the month and a half that it took me to get through (some of) the above list was not terribly restful. Insomnia was indeed my constant companion. But at the end of it, my home had been visibly decluttered; my computer – and paper – files were visibly more organised. And as I should have done well over a decade ago, I finally brought a few historical family heirlooms to our provincial archives where they belong. I also gave away a few family treasures to people I knew would appreciate them – including my Dad’s ukulele, which none of us can play. I called to get a phone plan so I could still speak with my Mom every day that we were away (because I live Canada – the place of zero competition and shockingly overpriced phone plans – the latter was ridiculously expensive).

Finally, I wrote a (very dramatic, my daughter tells me) note to my kids, giving them last-minute instructions, contact numbers for us, our health insurance, our neighbours, the museum where they should donate a few remaining items that belonged to my grandparents…

Hopefully, you are getting the point. I really, really do not travel well. And I am a worrier who plans for every contingency.

At the very last minute, just for the fun of it, I even emailed the kids a very rough draft of a book I’ve been working on which contains all my blog posts to date: you know, just in case we didn’t make it back (you can feel free to roll your eyes now if you weren’t already).

My family was not amused. The only person who was spared from my frantic over-planning was the person I inherited all this worry from in the first place. I didn’t say a word to my Mom: while we were away, I just picked up the phone whenever she called; wherever we happened to be (well, except for that time we were about to take a wrong turn into a very questionable part of New York City, that Google Apps kindly tried – over and over again – to lead us into).

And that’s a fine segue into my biggest worry of all: there was nothing I could do to resolve the dread I had of enduring a 25-hour car trip – one way – to get to our destination. And trust me, the thought of spending four out of ten days in a moving vehicle with a husband who hates listening to music – or even talk radio –kept me up many a night. I had to keep reminding myself that this trip was about finding a way to get my husband to the sun he so desperately requires in order to feel he lives a full and happy life.

Four silent, grueling days spent driving in a car is the price you pay for not being Elon Musk.

The trip was a story in itself. While we had a lot of lovely moments, it can be challenge for two such different people to find a happy middle ground while travelling: especially when one meanders dreamily through life and the other takes every. single. second. at a mad gallop. But the main point is: we didn’t die. We are back. The house is still standing. The cat and the dog were well cared for and both survived very nicely.

Oh, yes: and my house hasn’t been this clutter-free in years. I have made a promise to myself to continue (with less frantic energy, of course) to stay on top of things: to procrastinate no more. I have discovered that putting things off is a sure-fire way to increase your anxiety levels, whereas getting things done is a sure-fire way to find your inner tranquility.

Next time, with all my projects caught-up, maybe I will feel better prepared for a trip to the sun (in a plane, though; with earbuds so I can listen to my music: cheap seats will be fine with me).

My husband has already told me – and I quote – that he “will never travel anywhere with me, ever again.” But I know how much he hates the cold and the snow. And winters are long in Canada. Maybe he’ll forget this little chapter of our lives.

You never can tell…

Patti Moore Wilson/©


Author: Patti Moore Wilson, wednesdayschild2

I write what I feel. And I rarely know exactly what I feel until I write. I have lived long enough to have known many joys and many sorrows. I have made many mistakes; I have forgiven myself for a few… I have learned that there are lessons in every step of this journey, if we only take the time to pay attention… I hope you will feel free to pick and choose the stories that resonate for you…

16 thoughts on “The Trip”

  1. If you don’t want to spend all of your vacation time wondering about the condition of your home, might I recommend setting it on fire just before you leave? I’d let the dog and cat out before doing that, though… otherwise, you’ll just look crazy…

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I think leaving home for an extended period of time does find most of us concocting at the very least a mental checklist of things to be taken care of before departing. I think that’s perfectly understandable and reasonable. I will predict in due time – when Winter once again is on the horizon or just underway – another trip to the Sun might be proposed. And, you’ll be more “prepared” than last time.😀

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He is seriously considering that, Jane, and yes, it would be a blessing for both of us. I don’t think I would mind nearly as much if we lived in an apartment and if we didn’t have pets. That said, I ADORE my pets and this is their forever home. I just wouldn’t necessarily get another pet when they are gone. It’s just too much to fret about (and expensive, to have someone care for them). I HAVE travelled with my daughter and enjoyed it very much, knowing my husband WAS holding down the fort. So yes, there are workable options…

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Patti, I’m sorry that these situations cause so much anxiety for you. I know there are things I worry about or stress over before leaving home for a few (or more) days, but perhaps not on the level you describe. I agree with Jane- assuring husband just how okay you are if he decides to venture off to the sun on his own or with friends. I see nothing wrong with that sort of compromise at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Myself, I think your instincts are alerting you accurately. The time is coming rapidly, I do believe, in which if one wishes to keep something, one must guard it personally and zealously. I’m positioned at the front of that wave, and ~ impossible as this must sound to live with from the perspectives we are used to ~ I know better right now than to ever walk away from my van unless it is both absolutely necessary and I have parked it under a camera in a busy lot. Sure has boosted my meditation practice…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: