I am SO back. I am walking the aisles of the Northampton Winter Farmer’s Market back. I am looking for my favorite falafel sliders back. (the pickled turnips are DIVINE and I never thought I’d say such a thing) I’m buying local beef jerky back. I’m dropping ice cream off at the back door of a friend’s house because her front door is iced in back. Or as I like to say – winterized. We’re expecting two snowstorms this week and my driveway is no longer a sheet of ice, because the several inches of ice are huddled beneath a blanket of powdery snow. So there’s that. Small miracles and such. Safety.
The cats are in my lap. I have stories to tell about this trip, but not quite yet. I have photos to accompany my stories, but not quite yet. What I will say (SPOILER) is that I did eight days of travel with VERY minimal anxiety, if any. I did plane flights in the middle seat. I did theme parks and Main Street Disney World during peak hour for gate opening, and for the parades and fireworks, when you couldn’t even move without bumping shoulders or other body parts with half of the people in the world.
I did crowded monorails, rides and late night drives. I did beach trips and four games of mini golf and my first “grown-up” restaurant in ages. I did it all with only a brief feeling of exhaustion and fear in Camp Jurassic at Universal Studios.
I blame the Raptors. Or the Pteranodons. This brief overwhelming feeling was a bit strong, but it was nothing a butterbeer and roasted chicken at Three Broomsticks couldn’t cure. A roaring dragon and ice cream at Florean Fortesque? Yes.
All of this leads me to confirm more what I’ve always known. My anxiety isn’t general. It’s situational and halfway dormant. It’s triggered, ancient and deep. And sometimes, nearly all times, my sense of adventure will win out every time.
And so before I can gather my thoughts, photos, ideas and stories, in great detail, I wanted to share some stories from my travel hijinks of yesteryears. And I’m going to channel an Eli quote from this post too.
1. We used to go to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina every summer. My dad would pile all seven of us into a giant red GMC truck and we’d start around 9:00pm, only to (mostly) sleep through the trip, (my dad, the driver, and I would not sleep) and eat our annual McDonald’s breakfast in the Carolinas. We’d rent a condo with a brief walk to the beach and a spiral staircase. One day we went to Barefoot Landing – a mall set on the water – complete with stores, brides and yes, alligators. Real ones.
One day my whole family heard me gasp and stop short over a bridge to a store. What was it?? A man-eating alligator? A great pair of shoes? Nope. I had run into my softball coach from home in this random mall in Myrtle Beach, 12 hours from NJ!
2. Speaking of alligators.. My mom, older sister and I were visiting my Aunt in Orlando one July when I was about 19. After days of theme-parking in 100 degrees, we decided to go canoeing on a river way, way, way out of town. My mom and I teamed up in one canoe, and so did my sister and Aunt in another. My mom chose poorly, or so she thought. I was TERRIBLE at canoeing and I was barely pulling my weight. I just wanted to rest! That was hard because alligators kept swimming by us. Well I may not be good at canoeing, but I do have a great sense of direction, so even though my sister and Aunt pulled way ahead of us early on, we still found our way back to our car before them. Like. Way before them. And when we asked the toothless people behind the desk of the “hut” where our beloved family members might be, they smiled, toothlessly, and made a joke about alligators or cannibals eating them. Yeah. We were in tears. Finally, they showed up an HOUR after us, tears in their eyes, walking waist-deep through alligator-infested water. They got lost. And maybe capsized too? I wish I knew.
The BEST part of this story is that my Aunt took us to Virgin Megastore (or maybe Tower Records?) in downtown Disney so that we could find the Deliverance soundtrack for my mom, because after that canoeing experience, it was fresh on our minds. Well I was in the store and suddenly a crowd screamed so I looked in the direction their screams were going and saw some men. I waved at them, because.. why not. They waved back at me. People screamed. They left. I said to the store manager:
3. Shortly after Scarlet was born, we flew six hours to San Francisco for a wedding. We decided to luxuriate at a hot springs in wine country along the way but I didn’t have a swimsuit so I wore my favorite Victoria’s Secret matching bra and underwear set. I floated lazily on a raft on the springs until it was nursing time. I thought I had found a corner alone to nurse and try to get my bra off, but I heard snickering. Oops! I had flashed two ten-year-old boys. I wonder if they told their parents..
4. Once during January and with a WICKED broken heart, my sister and mom took me to Florida to visit my grandparents. There was a blizzard back home, as such things go, and we were delayed for several hours. Somehow we left late at night and arrived back at JFK Airport at 3:00am. And my car was buried under four feet of snow. No one would help us shovel it out.
5. When I was six or so, on another of our Myrtle Beach vacations, I accidentally stood behind my little brother during a paddle ball game and he whacked me in the face so hard with a paddle that one of my top front baby teeth flew out into the grass, never to be found. The other front top tooth was knocked so loose that the permanent tooth grew in backwards behind it! Ah, orthodontia was my friend. They used to call me “One Tooth Willie.” I have since cleaned up well. This did lead to oral surgery but I still have all my original teeth. I’m so happy in the photo below because I’m meeting my idol with my son!
6. When I was about seven and my little sister was four, we LOST her in NYC. We used to go every year during Christmas break and she wandered away from us one year, following a man she thought was our grandfather. My parents FREAKED out. They lost a four-year-old. In NYC. Luckily, she was smart and found a policeman and described our big red GMC truck. They were both waiting for us when we returned to our car. I can’t imagine the relief of my parents, or what that cop thought about us!