It’s time for college shopping with my youngest. So, are we headed to California? No, the west coast is way too close to parents – a simple hop across the ocean. No, we are traveling to the east coast: Boston, New York City, Pittsburgh, New Jersey! I’m packing boots, mittens, scarf, winter coat, hat… (Where did I store all that stuff?) I don’t really want to visit any of these places. I moved to a tiny town for a reason.
Nine universities, seven cities, four states and one frantic, hurried expedition. Did I mention snow? I am not renting a car anywhere. She needs to experience this trip as a student – carless. It will help her make choices if she knows she will have to take a long bus trip or a crowded subway (or both) once she lands at the nearest airport. Besides, I’ll be damned if I will drive on the east coast, now that I live in a place with no freeways. (Go ahead, say it – “Chicken!” I prefer the phrase, “Aloha Driver.”)
My OCD kicks in and I plan lodging, airlines, buses, Amtrak, dining, calculations on walking versus taxi (where the hell is that B&B in relation to the campus anyway?). I download maps of airports, train stations, subway stations, campuses, anything that will reduce surprise anywhere. I like adventure, just not when I’m on a mission.
We are renting AirBnB apartments almost exclusively. They get us closer to the campuses and will give her a better feel for local neighborhoods than hotels on main arteries miles away. But these are more complicated, especially when a confirmed reservation cancels on us at the last minute.
So I’ve been grumping about how much I am going to hate this trip – already hate this trip: the planning alone is taking over my life. The six-hour time change, the cold weather, the big cities, the stress, the snow, the challenge of packing lean with bulky clothes – ugh. Most of my friends sagely agree with me and murmur condolences. But not Julia. “That’s quite an affirmation ya’ got there,” she challenges sweetly. This dear friend often manages to stop me in my tracks with my mouth open.
Of course, I know exactly what she means. If I say I am going to hate something, I will hate it. I will manifest exactly what I request. And a statement uttered over and over again is as good as a request. My attitude matters. My language matters. Dang.
Well, this will certainly be an adventure; a special time with my daughter. We had such a good time traveling last summer; this is bound to be even better. I haven’t been to the east coast in some time. And this will be my daughter’s first time in Boston, New York and the rest. She is so excited. I am enjoying her enthusiasm and anticipation.
I love the AirBnB experience – no sterile hotel rooms for us. We’ll be able to cook if we want to. And do laundry – what a luxury. And it’s been so long since I rode Amtrak. I even had a frequent-railer account at one time. Such a cool way to see the country-side; brings on nostalgia for the old ways the people of our nation traveled.
And the food should be amazing! We always treat ourselves to nice dinners on our journeys. My daughter’s palate has matured quite a bit, so I can be assured that I won’t be stuck eating bland food. In fact, she just might challenge me to new foods.
I know that with all my good planning, I will be calm, even serene on this journey. And if something unexpected comes up, I will be able to handle it with aplomb.
Yup. This is going to be quite a trip. After all, travel can be such a transforming experience. A grand opportunity. A wonderful time to bond with my daughter.
Thank you, Julia.
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