When I was 6 years old my family went to Expo 67 in Montreal. I remember walking over a huge bridge in an enormous crowd of people when I reached up to hold my mother's hand. Grasping her hand, I then looked up at her face -- but it was a stranger's face, and I was holding a stranger's hand. Fear took hold of my entire being as I realized I was lost in a sea of people. I remember the sheer feeling of terror: ALONE IN A GREAT BIG WORLD!
Is this why I hate the idea of being lost to this day?
Except, I think I'm finally getting over it, at age 50, in part, I suppose, because my husband who also served the role of my navigator, is no longer here to take the wheel, read the maps, or guide me along the strange pathways I have to take if I want to keep exploring the world. You see, I love to explore but I've never felt comfortable not knowing just where I am--unless I'm with someone who has greater competence and comfort than me when in strange and unfamiliar places. So what to do when I am the captain of a ship with two children as my passengers and I am committed to showing them, and myself, the world?
Well, first step for me was to get a GPS. I did that a few years ago. And despite the scorn I felt emanating off some of my dearest relations, I knew it would open up passageways for me, ones that would otherwise be blocked by my own fear. Tools! Use them. Everyone doesn't know what you need. GPS saved my scared little travellin' soul. It also allowed me to embark on a 2000 mile road trip with my kids a few years back when my widowhood was new. Liberating. GPS freed me from the irrational fear that I could somehow be lost, and never find my way back.
This year for Spring Break, we headed off on another road trip, same GPS. Me: a little different. At first, just before we left, I felt just slightly down, a little low, a bit sad. Road trips were supposed to be with my husband. Mother, father, two kids. To me, travelling with the hubby and kids is one of the great perks of marriage, especially when your kids become great travel mates who don't wear diapers or go to bed early. So just before we set off, I was feeling a little sorry for my single parent self.
But then, the road beckoned, the GPS (I call her Garmeen) spoke her sweet words to me, Adele sang to us from the CD player as we sang along, and I realized that I don't care nearly as much if I get lost anymore. In fact, I think there may even be a new part of myself yearning to be lost, to not know, to explore a few trails with destinations unknown and untried.
Even my daughter noticed a difference in me when even the GPS kept leading us the wrong way in a city we'd never before visited. "Mom," she said, "You didn't seem to mind this time when we didn't know where we were going. You were laughing and relaxed."
New parts found, old parts lost. I want to go where I've never been.