Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Free

I apologize--I usually bring this up on the blog every year or two, right around this time of year, so this might be repetitive, but perhaps its importance bears repeating.  Yesterday and today in particular are really memorable days for me because they mark the anniversary of the days I took a chance and hopped on a plane at the last minute to see the Knighthawks win a championship.  My trip to Phoenix was nine (!) years ago today, and my trip to Seattle/British Columbia was three years ago yesterday.  Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of the one championship, and today is the third anniversary of the other.  I am probably just a little too obsessed with those trips so many years later, but I feel like they're so emblematic of one thing I feel my life lacks since I had kids that I can't help but reminisce and try to recapture that feeling.  I miss that sense of adventure--of being able to go to new places, see new things, and explore them without having to plan extensively to ensure the kids are fed, rested, and happy.  That freedom is elusive when you're a parent.

I love my kids like crazy and wouldn't change a thing (well, maybe one or two little personality quirks might make things easier) but there is something special about taking a chance and going off on an unexpected adventure.  Doing that with kids is nearly impossible, and many times it's simply not wise.  Life these days revolves around careful decisions to ensure that my kids will be safe and comfortable, that I will be around to keep them safe and comfortable, and that our finances and general living situation will allow all of us to be safe and comfortable.  So hopping on a plane and leaving them behind isn't usually the best option.  However, I suppose in a very specific situation I'd still absolutely do it again.  Why?  Because these two trips were so memorable and so unique that all these years later I am still obsessing over them.  You can read about the Phoenix trip here and the Seattle trip here, here, here, and here.

Both trips were booked one day before I left, which is crazy.  I got lucky the first time and had a Priceline near-disaster the second time.  I knew at the time I took the Phoenix trip that if all went well, it would probably be one of the last times I got to do something so spontaneous and crazy, as we were planning on starting a family soon after.  By the time I flew to Seattle, we had two kids, but since Jacob wasn't yet in school, it was possible to whisk him off somewhere on a moment's notice.  Now, not so much.  Carter was still a tiny baby, but I wasn't nursing so it was just a matter of hoping he'd be so enamored with the attention from Grandma and Grandpa that he wouldn't notice I was missing.  All went well, but the mom guilt on that trip was pretty severe.  Still, I think it was a great refresher mentally after three months in the newborn fog.  Physically, I was exhausted, and that was definitely a challenge upon my return.

But while the circumstances surrounding each trip were a little different, the purpose was the same--to hopefully see the Knighthawks win a championship and to get a little adventure in on the side.  Those missions were definitely accomplished.  I loved seeing Phoenix, and getting to see the Chihuly pieces in Tacoma was amazing.  I felt a sense of freedom in both cases--in the first, the confidence to travel by myself and suddenly be in a new place; and in the second, a chance to rediscover myself and my passions (like picture taking, for example).  One was a last hurrah, and the other was a re-birth.  Overdramatic?  Maybe, but both trips were life-changing in their own way.  I called the first one a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to see the Knighthawks win, but it turns out that lightning struck twice...or rather four times, though two of those did not involve cross-country travel. 

Most of these I've posted before, but here's a sampling of my fun...

Outside the hotel in Phoenix.  Definitely not something you see back home!

Still in disbelief, but so happy!

The perfect evening at the hotel pool with the Cup

Some pretty unique baggage!

Part of the wall on the Glass Bridge in Tacoma

This is the glass ceiling on the bridge, and it's been the image on one of my credit cards for a couple years!

In Union Station...gorgeous!

A window in Union Station

Gorgeous color along the boardwalk in New Westminster, BC

Not sure I've ever seen one of these before!

This was our third picture with this cup, but still super happy!
Perhaps the decision to take these trips could be considered irresponsible, and I suppose they could have easily turned out badly.  But they didn't, and I am so happy I took the chance.  I don't do that often, to be honest, so that makes these trips even more special.  Three years after the last one, I'm definitely itching for a new adventure.  We'll see if we can plan one one of these days.  Despite the sacrifices and complications that adventures can involve, I think it's important as a parent to keep dreaming and keep adventuring, because it may be the best way to teach your kids to think bigger and look toward their own adventures.  There's a balance there somewhere between adventure and responsibility that I hope we can instill in them before they reach adulthood.  We'll take them on some little adventures now, but hopefully we've all got some great things ahead. 

But this morning, when it was the same kind of day it was nine years ago--mid-60s, sunny and perfect--I couldn't help but look back and be thankful for the opportunities I've had to step out, take a chance, and live life to the fullest.  Now if I can figure out how to do that at home in my daily life, that would be even better.

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