I love traveling. Always have. The notion that you can step on a plane and in a matter of hours be transported to a world completely different than your own? Amazing.
I travelled internationally a fair bit in my twenties – sometimes with friends, sometimes solo. My longest trip was about 4 months to Australia. This was back in the day of no email, no text messaging, no Skype, no Facetime, no Facebook, no Twitter. You get the idea…
My Dad (also known as The Serge and then later Grandpa Serge) struggled a bit with my adventurous spirit (and the lack of contact with his baby girl). He was a traditional Italian papa after all, with somewhat antiquated views of women and their role in the world. Why the hell wasn’t I settling down and having kids? To which I felt compelled to answer that I probably would never get married and never have kids – ever. Sharp intake of breath here. (Of course, he must have had a good chuckle when I ended up getting married and having 3 kids, all in the span of 6 years.)
But back to my 20s… In those days, he often said (to anyone who would listen), “You know my daughter, she likes to travel around the world like a drunken sailor.” (The irony that I rarely drank as much as half a glass of wine back then did not dissuade him from using this phrase ad nauseum. Or maybe he was going for irony – he liked to play people, after all.)
Regardless of his motivation, it irritated me back then, when I was so much more serious and intense about everything. I didn’t see that beyond the surface criticism, there was also pride that his daughter had a sense of adventure (after all, he was an immigrant who left his family, his friends and his culture to travel to a new country without a job, money or a home … now that’s adventuresome!)
On the cusp of our big adventure, my mind often turns to my dad, and I tell the kids, “You know this would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Grandpa Serge.” It also wouldn’t have been possible without our “austerity” budget: we’ve scrimped and saved; we haven’t taken vacation time in over two years. But his handprint is on this journey for sure.
And I can’t help but imagine him saying, “You know my daughter, she likes to travel around the world like a drunken sailor,” with a wink in his eye, trying to raise my ire.