I'm writing today from St. George, Utah. It's about 400 miles South of where I live. We're staying with my mother-in-law and her husband for New Year's.
As we were driving here (a six hour trip), we listened to the first couple chapters of Patrick McMannus's audio book, A Fine and Pleasant Misery. As McMannus described his reasons for camping (to get home and brag about what a miserable time he'd had), I wondered about my own desire to travel. I have grandiose dreams of visiting Japan, Portugal, England, Denmark, maybe even India, but Hubby reminds me that I'm often grumpy when we travel. And I acknowledge that I get uptight when we're packing and uptight when I have to unpack upon getting home. I also get travel headaches and don't sleep well. So why do I want to travel?
For starters, I love to try to experience life from someone else's perspective. That's why I was an exchange student in high school. And my mother and I arrived on Japan as my destination in part because it was safe (that was her criteria), and also because it was so different from my rural U.S. upbringing.
I also think that until you've been outside of your comfort zone, your own familiar environs, you can't really appreciate what you've got. When I return from even a short trip, I'm grateful for my own bed, my own shower, my own quirky kitchen. Once you've been outside your own world, you realize that there really is no place like home.
I guess that's why I enjoy traveling with my children. They're so quick to point out the differences between our new locale and home. Beans, for instance, loves the rocks here in St. George. She loves the reds and tans -- the desertness of the place. Bug likes the plant life that grows here -- the cacti and palms. Loula Belle seems to soak it all in. Plus, she knows that Grandma always has plenty of treats and sweets!
I enjoy listening to my kids' observations. One said, "If all my friends were here and I could go to my same school, I'd like to live here." Another said, "I like our mountains at home. I'm not sure that I'd like living with all the hills here." They're putting themselves into this environment. I can't help but wonder what they'd think of a totally different country. Would they think differently about their freedoms and conveniences? Would they value their home just a bit more?
Guess we won't know until we venture out.