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Would You Travel to a Place or a Person?

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It’s a seemingly cliche question: would you travel to a place or to a person?

To me, to a place evokes a sense of adventure, anticipation, excitement. To a person brings a sense of longing, of comfort, of home.

Today would have been my younger brother’s birthday. It brings back memories of little kids having a summertime birthday party, cake, running barefoot under a warm sun in a humid Chicago August. My parents smiling down at us, that warm happy memory you want to wrap yourself in. They are all gone now, my brother for now 20 years, my parents within the last 10. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, many friends now also gone.

Growing up, we used to vacation to the same cabin in the woods of Northern Wisconsin. Driving 8 hours in the station wagon to reach our tiny cabin on a lake, no TV, but we had a boat. Stay for 2 weeks and then head back. Same place, every year. Same house I grew up in since I was a baby until I left for college, and even then I didn’t leave the state. By then, Scott had the leukemia diagnosis so I stayed close by. When I got married, I left the country for the very first time to go to Jamaica for our honeymoon. I think it was the second time I had ever been on a plane. There were kids, and school systems, and never time or money to go anywhere. My oldest daughter is autistic, so that brought its own challenges.

I don’t remember how it started. I looked around one day and realized all my memories were the same year after year. Dad fishing. Mom feeding the ducks. Swimming in the lake with my brother. He died when he was 23, and all he got to see was that same lake, year after year. So now we were filling up our photo albums with trips to Cocoa Beach in Florida, hiking in Sedona, the Grand Canyon, Mexico, Hawaii. I took a new job where I traveled to 18 different states in a year in 60 separate trips. The more I saw, the more I wanted to see.

My point is, there was a large gap in my life. A gap where traditionally filled by family. Maybe in my search inside Muir Woods between the giant redwoods, I was looking for strength. Maybe the first time I put my toes in the Pacific Ocean at Huntington Beach, I was cleansing myself of the guilt of still being here while they were not. Maybe the vastness of the Grand Canyon made everything else feel small by comparison. Maybe I was still looking for them swimming in Lake Arrowhead. Maybe in my desire to travel to a place, I really am traveling to find those people that meant so much to me.

These are some of the photos of places that just personally meant something to me. Either they hold strong memories of my childhood past or created significant experiences with my own daughters.

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