When we were in Chicago I had a moment that was similar to another moment I had last year when we vacationed to Disney World. At Disney it happened when Kya squeezed my hand when she spotted Cinderella’s castle for the first time. In Chicago it happened while we were waiting in line at American Girl Place. I felt my chest swell, my breath catch and tears rush to my eyes. It was a moment of pure joy as I watched my child experience the world. At Disney World I attributed it to Disney magic but standing there in that beautiful store on Michigan Avenue I realized it was more than that.
To fully explain my epiphany I need to back up for a moment to tell you about my first trip to Europe. When the plane touched down in Frankfurt, Germany something deep inside me shifted. I couldn’t name it at the time but I recognized that something profound was happening. I spent the next few years chasing that feeling, planning more trips and traveling to more places so I could recapture that moment. It took a lot of time, money, energy and soul searching for me to finally pinpoint exactly what it was I was chasing. At first it was a feeling that I could only describe as coming home. But eventually it became a deep understanding that the world, the ENTIRE world, was there for me. Not only me, but also me. Me just as much as anyone else. Trips to Europe were not just something that other people do that I can only dream about, they are something I do.
This is a fundamental truth that isn’t just about traveling, it’s about realizing that if these experiences are mine then all of those other things I’ve dreamed of are within my grasp as well. Maybe not all at once, maybe not without sacrifice, but still there if I really want to follow them. I may not be able to devote full time to writing or ever earn enough for it to be a sole source of income but I can blog, I can journal, I can share my ideas on forums and groups I belong to online and I can publish enough to supplement other sources of income. I can be a writer even if it doesn’t look like what I thought it would.
Standing in line that day, seeing how happy my daughter was in that moment, I was holding back tears as it dawned on me that while it may have taken me over 30 years to figure it out my children are already bursting with this knowledge. Travel taught me this fundamental lesson and I’m using it to pass it along to my kids. When we plan a vacation we may not be able to go everywhere and do everything we want but we can do SOMETHING and whatever it is can be pretty fantastic. So, while there are a million things we could have spent our money on last week other than a trip to Chicago none of them were more important than showing my kids that it’s okay to dream.