Thursday, June 10, 2010

Over the Rainbow

I was destined to be a world traveler. My mom, born and raised in post-war Germany, grew up roaming the Black Forest and vacationing in Paris. And my American-born dad was one of the great globe-trotters of all-time. As assistant press secretary/advance man for President Nixon, he orchestrated history making events in just about every major world city (and some not so major), including Nixon's monumental China trip. He and my mom brought home stories and treasures from foreign lands they visited — places we could only dream of — although we were fortunate to see a few of them as kids. We literally grew up on airplanes. I'm not talking TWA — but Air Force Two (the presidential press plane) itself, where we traveled along with my parents to Germany — and Disney World — with the likes of Diane Sawyer, Dan Rather, and White House staffers who were like family to us.

So when it came time for me to start making my major life decisions — post college, early 20s — I seriously considered that life of travel and adventure. I had a college degree and a contact or two to enable me to pursue the dream — and dad had some good buddies working on the George Bush (Senior) campaign. I went to DC, met with some very nice folks, and the deal was sealed — an unpaid internship. If Bush became President I'd be working in the White House, and a life of jetting from country-to-country would be all but mine!

But I met a guy. I was in love. He lived in Pasadena. He proposed marriage the day I returned from my DC interview — and I had a big decision to make. After much deliberation, and the fact that dad told me I really didn't HAVE to do this, I chose the guy. When you are in your early 20s and in love, it tends to take precedence over everything else.

My brother Tim (pictured above at about three on said airplane), as it turned out, became our family's next generation world traveler. He joined the Air Force after high school (we were so NOT a military family), and traded with a guy to be stationed in West Germany. He became fluent in German, forged relationships with my mom's side of the family there, and lived out his own adventures in Europe and beyond. Sadly, he left us early in his life, but we all take comfort in the fact that he indeed had his share of travel and adventure.

But I took another road. And it's becoming more than evident that world traveling is not in my "life script." I am a mother of two living in a small town, and my oh so wonderful husband decided I wasn't oh so wonderful — and left. Regrets? Yes. And no. I experience deep pangs when I realize I may never experience the wonders of Greece, or Paris, or Florence. But my children are everything to me, and the fact that they know I believe they'll do amazing things with their lives gives sense and purpose to my own. I sometimes catch myself saying I wouldn't have chosen any of this — but in fact, I did. Exactly how it is right now. Pretty much ALL my choice.

In my brother's last days he and I had a couple of deep conversations. Those life and death talks you hope you'll never have to have with anyone — much less your kid brother/best friend. His big regret was that he wasn't a father, and clearly never would be. He wondered if he'd have been a good one. I assured him he would have been the best. Also that I admired him for being bold enough to actually live out his dreams — the exciting life of travel and adventure I denied myself with a couple of lame choices I made in my early 20s. Well, maybe not so lame. When we both looked back, neither of us would have chosen different paths, but a part both of us really wanted what the other one had.

If I'm ever lucky enough to travel to Europe again, or any foreign land for that matter,  I'll certainly take him with me.

1 comment:

  1. OK, so is it just a mid-forties thing? It seems like you are having some of the very same conversations that Yvonne and I have. We should try to get together.

    Thanks for sharing.