The Neurosis of Holiday Travel

This turkey is lucky – he doesn’t need to pack any bags, take any trains, or pray that his baby won’t throw up in the car. Then again, he’s about to get eaten. You win some, you lose some.

I realize the stream-of-conscious narration that follows doesn’t cast me in a pretty light, but I’m publishing it anyway, in the hopes that sharing my holiday-travel-induced neurosis  can help other people feel less alone in theirs. If not, at least you can feel better knowing you aren’t as crazy as I am ;).

Traveling sucks.

I’ve read the inspirational quotes; I know life is about the journey, not the destination. But as I look ahead to this holiday weekend, I want to fast forward to the part where I’m home and we’re unpacked and I’m in bed.

That’s not to say I’m not excited to spend time with family—I really, truly am. I love that I’m getting to see every single person that I’m getting to see, and wish I could spend time with them more often. But I wish I could just teleport in to see them. Can I skip the part about packing my bags, and my baby’s bag, and schlepping our stuff to the train station, and hoping we can keep her amused throughout the train ride? And then being exhausted by the time we get there. Then, Thanksgiving dinner, which I hope I can feel rested enough to enjoy…because I want to enjoy it…

Then we’re sleeping in a new place, and Jordan never sleeps well the first night somewhere new, and we can hear Ali in the early morning before it’s time for her to get up (at home she sleeps down the hall, not right next door), and then a car ride to my parents’ house, and hoping she doesn’t throw up in the car (she gets car sick), and then another night with her on the other side of a thin wall, and then packing up again, and driving to Baltimore for our family’s Chanukah celebration, and hoping she doesn’t throw up (are you noticing a pattern?), and sleeping in a new place yet again, and getting her settled, and hoping Jordan sleeps, because I love him and when he’s exhausted it breaks my heart. I want him to be happy.

And then getting to the train station Sunday morning and feeling that thrill of it almost being over, all this schlepping, and hoping Ali’s spirits stay high, and getting home with all our bags, and making it until bedtime, keeping her entertained when all I want to do is collapse, and as you can tell, all I already want to do is collapse. I’m TIRED, man. It’s been a TIME.

Having a toddler and running my own business and dealing with some health issues… I know people face far greater challenges, and the thing is, I am happy every single day, but I am also EXHAUSTED. I just need a day off—all the way off, not a stolen pocket of journaling here or a mani-pedi there, or early to bed, but a true day off, maybe even (dare I say) two. I need massages and to stare at the ocean and to lounge in bed all morning. I realize I sound spoiled. Like I said, people deal with far bigger challenges, and with a lot more grace. I just wasn’t born with a lot of stamina. And I need stamina lately. Lots of it.

(I hate to keep repeating the whole “I don’t have stamina” thing, because the more we tell a story about ourselves, the more ingrained it becomes, but… it’s how I feel.)

I realize that anticipating how stressful things will be is no antidote to stress, and in fact makes things MORE stressful. I wish I had the Zen skills to just breathe and go with the flow and take things as they come. I’m just not there right now. So I’ll remind myself to be open to joy. That’s the mantra I’ve adopted when I’m feeling stressed and dwelling on the negative: Be open to joy. Let it find you. Let it surprise you, and wash over you, and gradually convince you that your neurosis is just a silly blip in a glorious, glorious life.

Just typing this has an effect on me. I’m imagining Ali’s joy at playing with so many family members who love her, and exploring some new places. I’m imagining the feeling of love and warmth at being surrounded by so many people I love, and who love me. I’m imagining the pleasure of having conversations with people I haven’t seen in ages, like my brother- and sister-in-law, who are coming in from Amsterdam.

I am a fool. 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. May your travels be joyful. And to my family: Thank you for putting up with my neurosis.

Gobble gobble!

Photo by Lew Holzman on Flickr

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