Note: This was written just before we left on our trip. Updates coming!!
I don’t really do anticipation well. Even as a kid, when all around me little guys and gals were waiting, thrilled, for Santa’s descent from his sleigh, I was stressed. Stressed about the fact that our NYC apartment didn’t HAVE a chimney. Stressed about the North Pole travel conditions, the reindeers’ state of health, the very real possibility that I was not going to get a pony (see NYC apartment, above.)
In later years, my anticipation of future “great events” was always tempered by that little Eeyore deep inside (“Nope. Probably not gonna happen. And if it does, it’ll be terrible. Usually is.”) And then I’d get so nervous that I’d forget to enjoy the happy moments when they did occur. This applied to events like my wedding, the birth of my children, every wonderful thing that happened in the lives of said children, etc. It’s all, unfortunately, a blur: newlyweds and newborns, violin recitals, soccer triumphs, college graduations.
I never did get the hang of pure, positive excitement, that tingly feeling that amazing experiences were just around the corner. It’s a shame, because I hear anticipation is pretty cool.
Well, gang, here we go again. Steve and I are mere hours from our departure for our thrice COVID-postponed trip to Europe. I have been doing my best over-the-top nutty travel agent impression, jumping around from website to guidebook, frantically booking the heck out of Viennese palaces, Salzburg museums, Munich restaurants. I pride myself on handing these myriad details without assistance. This leads to snafus like yesterday, when I scheduled a concert in Prague for the same night and time I’d gotten tickets for a “black light” theatre performance. And, of course, though 99% of my bookings were refundable, this one was not. I look forward to sitting in a theatre next week, knowing our concert seats across town are empty, and my purse is 80 euros lighter. Score, Elise!
Julie and I were on the phone Monday night, talking about my trip, and reminiscing about her own three-month, multi-country solo European backpacking adventure at age 18. She sent me photos of her younger self in the exact same cities we’ll be visiting, standing on a mountaintop with some new buddies from a hostel, navigating a mirror maze, at the opera. As far as I recall, she did very little micromanaging of her schedule—yet she still had a wonderful, life-changing time.
I pay lip service to the notion that I’ve learned valuable lessons from the pandemic, lessons about letting go of worry—"carpe diem” in spades, right? And maybe I have. However, my grateful, hopeful, anticipatory new self, forgot to tell my inner Eeyore, and Eeyore’s still pretty darned skeptical.
And so I spend this, the morning our journey begins, trying to banish the “what ifs,” in favor of the “oh, wows.” The world is opening up again, and we are so, so lucky to be traveling in it.
Anticipating” the inevitable problems, may I also anticipate much joy.