As part of a “blog hop” for the Generation Fabulous site/magazine I am writing on the topic of Transformative Travel. (How I dislike that phrase, blog hop, there has to be a better one.)
Where do I start? I love travel. I grew up on a farm and Summer was not a time of vacations. It was a time of hard work, farming, gardening, raising young livestock, and making hay. I so wanted to be one of The Happy Hollisters who always seemed to be traveling somewhere together as a family. Wow. That blew my little Baby Boomer mind.
I had my palm read by my best friend’s mother as I was starting High School and she looked up at me and said with some wonderment, “You have the most developed travel line I have ever seen!” Farmer’s daughter, travel, yeah right. I figured back then the closest I would get to travel was someone in sales.
But life takes us on mysterious and unanticipated paths. I have traveled more at this point in my life than I ever would have ever thought possible when I was very young, and not nearly enough to slake my thirst for new places and spaces.
I lived on an island, Cayo Santiago, with several hundred rhesus macaques for a month of monkey-watching. I spent a month in Barcelona and Madrid. I awoke one morning after camping, with permission, to the sun rising between the pillars of Greek and Roman ruins at Empuries over the Mediterranean. I’ve taken the train through Britain and visited what was The Sweet Shoppe that Alice loved so long ago in Oxford, and been seated at High Table too, as well as been granted the privilege of turning the pages of an illuminated Chaucer. I’ve walked in Sherwood Forest and along the streets of Liverpool. I rode in a VW ‘bus across the United States with a boyfriend when I was in college and ended up stranded in Berkeley. I was a VIP guest standing just outside the hangars at Edwards Air Force Base with all the support staff, engineers, and politicos for the free-flight and computer test the first time a Space Shuttle disconnected from the 747 piggyback ride and landed on a dry lake bed at the base. My husband and I were married on top of a mountain. I have driven across the country by myself several times because I think it is fun. Pacific, Atlantic, Sea of Cortez, Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Great Lakes; I have had all of them lap at my feet. I am well-traveled by some standards. I am woefully mono-cultural and unworldly by others.
No one trip has had more impact on me than a trip that I took back to Indiana to care for my 92-year-old mother in her home at the end of her life. I was 49 when I arrived there. My daughter was a Junior in High School when I left Tucson for the drive to Indiana. Mom was infirm and had minor dementia, but she still was aware and most certainly still in charge of most of her faculties. 4 months later when I came back to Tucson, I had turned 50, my mother was gone and my daughter had figured out how to graduate a year early and had started college. I left as a daughter and came back as a matron.
Most people take such transformative trips, the distance traveled need be no more than down the road to a village church yard and back. Those travels when a change of state or status ensue are the most transformative travels we can make. These times of change when we travel between two statuses or roles are called “liminal” states and are quite powerful and dangerous in many societies. Physical travel often accompanies these rites-of-passage. I am not at all certain we can distinguish what is responsible for what when transformation co-occurs with a journey.