For week 18 of the Indie Travel Challenge, pick any one of these questions (or as many as you like!) to answer in your post. What is your earliest childhood memory of traveling with your family? Did you take regular family vacations? Did your family encourage travel? Did any of those family trips inspire your adult life as a traveler?
It started with the map
This week’s post is a guest post from one of the characters in my travel fantasy stories. Globetrotter Jay talks about how his parents influenced his travels.
I have to confess: I never wanted to go anywhere. And then Mom got the map.
We grew up in a small town in Idaho. Some would call it Anywhere, USA, and I suppose that’s close enough to the truth of it. Mom was a teacher, and Dad was a lawyer. We never really went anywhere for vacations, just spots around the state. Americans aren’t known for vacations, after all, and Mom and Dad were always really busy.
But as I grew up, Mom and Dad suddenly started talking more about travel. Often I think it’s because of Mom teaching high school. Year after year she’d spend time with all these teenagers who were about to graduate. After years of exposure, all their dreams—jobs, travel, exotic places—must have finally become contagious.
Mom started talking about how she and Dad weren’t getting any younger. Dad started thinking about retiring from his law practice. They’d saved money over the years, and the next thing I knew, that money started getting pumped into guidebooks, backpacks, lightweight cargo pants and one-way tickets.
One night when I went over for dinner, one of Guru Deep’s guidebooks, World Through the Third Eye, was sitting on the coffee table. All that evening they talked about the Big Trip they were planning. Forget taking an RV around the USA. Mom and Dad were planning to travel the world. “We’ll spend our sunset years chasing the sunrise,” Mom liked to say.
A few months later when I went over for dinner, the guidebook was dog-eared and stuffed with bits of paper for bookmarks.
And then Mom showed me the map.
Dad had made the frame, she said, and the wood was well-oiled, perfectly cut, and framed the map with a glow that was almost alive.
The map she’d found at a bookstore. The pins had come from her sewing kit, and Mom had a lot of pins. Now they were all stuck in the map. Canada. Cuba. Argentina. Peru. Australia. New Zealand. Scotland. Europe. India. Thailand. Malaysia. Japan. Kenya. South Africa. Egypt. If it had a dot on the map, it had a pin.
All that evening they told me about the trip, and how now that Dad was retired, they’d be leaving soon. They didn’t ask, but I could tell they wanted me to be interested in coming along here and there for some of the trip.
But that was the thing. All my life, I’d never been interested in traveling.
But now? Now I live travel. Mom and Dad, you see, they were ready to go. Passports, tickets, visas, everything.
But Mom and Dad will never get to take that trip, and so I cling to a memory of them looking at the map together, pointing at pins and smiling at each other.
I guess I travel for them, as much as I travel or myself now.
It all started with the map. And it will never end till I’ve put a foot in every place where Mom once put a pin, but now will never go herself.