They say all roads lead to Rome. Turns out they might just be right. This post by Chloe Jeffreys kicks off July’s Generation Fabulous BlogHop. The topic this month: Transformative Travel.
Growing up I often heard the adults I loved talk about the great trips they were going to take after they retired. The stories always started off with, “Someday I’m going to go to…”
Live long enough and you’ll get to see a lot of truth. I’ve lived long enough to watch many of those people end up too sick or too disabled to ever get their someday. What I learned from them is:
Don’t Wait for Someday because Someday May Never Come
Jeff and I married and had our kids young. We were much too busy surviving to think about our own somedays. So when we found ourselves suddenly with an empty nest–our daughter married after a whirlwind romance, and our son went off on an adventure of his own way sooner than I would have liked–we realized that our someday was here. And we hadn’t made Plan 1.
Before what is now known between us as The Great Empty Nesting of 2008, our trips revolved around camping with the kids. Big Sur was a particular favorite, and we returned there many times. But we also took vacations to the Grand Canyon and New Mexico that our family will never forget.
But Europe? No way. You’d need a passport for that. And anyway, isn’t going to Europe something only rich people and college kids do?
Plus, my husband hated the thought of getting lost and not knowing where he was. Keeping that from happening was a big part of every trip we ever took. I blame the fact that his family went on the same vacation every single year he was growing up.
And it isn’t like I was some great world traveler. My family only ever went on one vacation when I was a child. We were in a rented tent trailer when an unseasonable snowstorm hit during the night. It was so awful our family never went on another vacation ever again.
So at the end of 2008, when I picked up Elizabeth Gilbert’s book about her transformative year in Rome, India, and Bali, Eat, Pray, Love (affiliate link), neither my husband nor I had any idea how radically it was going to change our lives.
I’ll admit I was very depressed when I started reading Eat, Pray, Love. With my homeschooling days suddenly over, and my mother unexpectedly living with us while going through cancer treatment, I was at the lowest of my lows wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
All Roads Lead to Rome
Reading about Gilbert’s time in Rome started me thinking about transforming my own life. I knew I was in desperate need of transformation. The old saying goes, “All roads lead to Rome.” I began wondering if maybe my own road led there, too.
I told my husband, “We should go to Rome.” He just laughed. Of course we weren’t going to Rome. People like us don’t go to Rome. That’s for other people, or for when you retire.
But nobody we knew was having the retirement of their dreams. Maybe those retirements are a myth. Maybe our dream life needs to be the life we’re living now.
Somehow or another, around this same time, I’d gotten on United Airlines email list and started getting travel offers from them. So one day I looked. There’s no harm in looking, right? Exactly how much would it cost to fly to Rome?
No. I’m not making that up. The price on the computer screen said $514 to fly roundtrip to Rome from San Francisco!
I called my husband up, “It only costs $514 for us to go to Rome. Let’s go!”
He initially told me we should “think about it”. That’s Jeff’s special code for nope. I told him that at that price we could think about it on the flight there.
He asked, “But what about passports?”
I looked at the latest date this unbelievable price was in effect, and the government website for passports. If everything went like clockwork we’d get our passports just in time. I told him, “I’m buying these tickets!”
Needless to say we went to Rome and had the absolute best time of our lives. We rented an apartment near the Piazza del Poppolo where I bought some new shoes. I even gave a try walking in them on the cobblestone road like the Roman women do. About the best I can say is that I didn’t break my ankle or my neck.
We spent 10 days waking hand-in-hand around the most amazing city, eating the most delicious food, and not once did we talk about the kids or my mother. It was a life-changer for us.
We came home transformed and ready to embark upon the second half of our lives.