I could be a crazy cat lady, here in my century-old Sears kit house. As comfortable as I am in my status quo, a hermit’s existence wouldn’t be difficult. All it would take is a few more felines.
Each morning I wake up, kiss Husband goodbye, make a pot of coffee and Junior-Man’s lunch, then bid him farewell as he leaves for school. After that, it’s just the two cats and me plus words until it’s time to fix supper.
It’s all so cozy and predictable. Perhaps it’s the constancy that makes me feel safe, swaddled. Or maybe it’s the thought of so many circumstances out of my control that causes me to feel at risk.
These days, it shows up, the niggling fear does, every time I plan a trip—for a week, even a weekend.
I forgot that particular trait of mine when I signed up earlier this year for a week-long women’s “hiking and listening” retreat. In Scotland. All I felt was giddy. Until 10 days out from the trip.
Then like a jack-in-the-box, my panic sprang out with a BOING! and I hastened to accomplish the suggestions in my stack of preparatory paperwork.
In the basement, I located a carry-on suitcase and waterproof rain jacket. On the third floor, a stack of clothes leaned against my bed. All pants matched all tops.
Two days later, UPS delivered a box full of wool socks, two (okay, three) different TSA-approved toiletry bags, an aqua cross-body bag with five zippered compartments (Cleverly designed by two flight attendant gals!), and an electric outlet converter.
I measured all the backpacks in our house and not one obeyed British Airways’ “personal item” dimensions. So I ran out and bought one. And gloves. An eye-mask too. Didn’t the packing list recommend one?
Not long after the physical logistics were squared away, heavy concern descended. Without me, would my guys starve? I magneted a page of meal suggestions to the refrigerator door. And bought a jumbo bag of pepperoni rolls. Would they remember to care for the two girl cats and our plump boy bunny? I left a Pet Directions document on the kitchen table. If my elderly mother experienced a crisis—physical or emotional—while I was out of the country, what then? I reminded her of Husband’s cell phone number.
What if our plane went down and I never saw my family again?
That one gets me every time.
I texted a fellow traveler: “Beneath the excitement for Scotland, do you feel any fear, anxiety, guilt, or sadness?”
“All of the above,” she answered.
Perversely, her pain buoyed me. I’m not alone.
Desiring more validation, I texted my question to another sojourner. Her response was different.
“The draw to be connected to home and to be a wanderer in the world are both pretty natural, but one is never as sweet without the other.”
More than a decade younger than me, how did she get so wise?
As it turned out, the trip was glorious and everyone in my household survived just fine without me. Of course they did. And since my adventure was so profoundly wonderful, a week later I made a short list of where to travel next. Italy, New Zealand, Israel maybe.
I’m thinking, hoping, if I travel enough, maybe my fear will eventually be desensitized. Or maybe the benefits of travel will one day outweigh my anxiety about travel.
The main benefit being, the newfound knowledge (or really, the rediscovery of the fact) that it’s not just me—not only my town, state, and country—that is fearfully and wonderfully made. It is every landscape, every people group, every creature (Cats, bunnies, and meerkats, for instance…), every sunset, every rainbow…
God created it all and saw that it was good.
Now it’s my turn.