If I was ever on a plane before I turned 17, I was too young to remember it. The first time I flew, at least that I can remember, I flew from LAX to Gatwick with a handful of “new friends” on a school-sponsored trip to England, Ireland, and Wales. I’ve flown domestically a few times since, but that was my one “big trip” adventure to date. I love traveling, and I’d hoped to see more of the world than I have so far, but time and circumstance and all of that.
When I found myself a newly-single mom (almost a year ago now), I figured that was it. What little I could make would keep me local. We could go camping, which I also love, and have done a bit of already. But flights were cost-prohibitive and international travel seemed a far-off dream, at best. “Maybe I could chaperone my daughter’s school trip some day” was the big hope.
On a particularly rough day of parenting, I vented to my dearest friends that I’d had enough and needed a break. I whined about wanting a vacation, the way people who drink say they want a glass of wine or such on a bad day. I didn’t expect anything to come of it; I was just blowing off steam. But these are my friends, and they heard what I wasn’t quite willing to claim for myself: I desperately needed a change of scenery and a reminder that the world was so much bigger than what I was going through. One thing lead to another and soon, we had an idea: if The Powers That Be were amenable, maybe we, collectively, could pool enough resources and pull enough strings to get a trip off the ground.
And OOOOH, did I have to sit with my feelings. It was rough. All sorts of issues about whether or not I “deserved” to go, or could ever repay the kindness of all of the people offering me help and funds to pull this off. I got poked right in the worth! But I kept chipping away at parts of it. Baby steps. “Well, I’ll just apply for passports” was the first part. So we did.
When we’d finished submitting our passport applications, we looked into the logistics. Where we would stay was already taken care of, because my friends are mighty. They also came through with a good chunk of what it would cost to get us there, so the next step became finding a flight. Of course, this isn’t as simple as it sounds when you’re traveling with kids. My oldest flew as a baby, but has no memory of it. Youngest hasn’t ever been on a plane at all. Both are pretty open to adventures, and neither is particularly fussy about much, so I have that on my side, but there were still a lot of variables to consider. I decided we’d take red eyes there and back, and try to sleep on the plane. Found a couple of reasonably well-timed flights, held my breath and bought the tickets.
Every step I took was more than matched by friends or chosen family, waiting in the wings to offer support, guidance, or a gift of some kind. A well-traveled mom friend let me know that kids under 12 traveling with a parent who has TSA Precheck can also bypass the security screening lines, and gave me the application fee as a gift because she knows what my brain will do with all these to-dos. When you’re bold about sharing your anxieties, people who love you can help you clear obstacles and try to smooth your path.
My kids are pretty pro sleepers at this point. I’m not, but I like coffee. I’m a mom, which means I have plenty of experience with low-sleep days and long nights. Still, I wanted to at least try to set myself up for in-flight sleep success so I asked for advice. A few days later, these showed up on our doorstep:
There was a kit for each of us. Two days later, we each got a travel blanket (with a caution to avoid using the blankets on the plane, especially at the end of the day). I didn’t even know to ask for these things!
What I *do* know how to do is sell wool to make ends meet. I have to admit: I’d been stalling, partly because of fear and partly because of self-pity. This travel opportunity is the push I needed to fully commit to my business and get moving toward my goals here. The first step I had on that list was the streamlining I posted about a couple weeks ago. The second was reaching out to my local community, which starts with teaching weaving later this month. The third step will happen once I’m back from my trip, but the planning and preparation phases are already underway.
And the most joyous thing of all is this: I have hope. For the past year, I have tried to find any sparkle of hope I could hold onto. Every crumb, however small, helped to keep me from collapsing under the weight of the rubble of a failed marriage and the stresses of parenting alone through the festering suck of a messy separation and impending divorce. On the darker days, I held onto the hope of hope, the hope that, someday, I might genuinely feel what I was trying to intellectually create. Maybe it’s not “smart” to travel right now, but the hope and joy I’ve found just thinking about it are worth an awful lot to me. I can’t imagine I’d ever regret taking my kids on an adventure like this. When else will I ever have such an incredible chance again?!
So: We’re going to Peru! I’m looking forward to sharing the details here. A thousand thank-yous to all the incredible people who have come together to help make this possible for me and my daughters. I may never be able to pay you back. I hope that, someday, I will be able to pay it forward. We are so incredibly lucky to be so well-loved!