In my early 20s I fell in love with a book: Mary Morris’ Nothing to Declare. I read it in the winter of 1993 in a studio apartment over a garage in a Southern California orange grove. My job at the NBC TV affiliate in San Diego was less than satisfying. They paid $7.50 an hour. I’d lived in California a few months and didn’t have any real friends. Nothing to Declare made me feel like at any moment I could chuck it all, hop in my little red Nissan Sentra and take off for San Miguel de Allende, just like Morris did. It probably wasn’t even very far to drive, and would be a whole different world. I could hide out, start over, steal away.
There was this passage I’ve never forgotten; sometimes I think of it even now, more than fifteen years later. It begins, “It was my Mother who made a traveler out of me, not so much because of the places where she went as because of her yearning to go.” My own Mother went to travel agent school when I was a kid just to learn how to get better deals. I remember her standing in our kitchen talking on the phone, the long curly cord stretched all the way out across the 1970s goldenrod wallpaper and olive green appliances. She beamed as she asked the airline reservationist if an open jaw fare to TPA would be a better deal than flying back into SRQ. She learned the lingo of travel and away we went across Europe and the South, to places she’d read about in Gourmet and Southern Living. So, like Mary Morris, it was my Mother who made a traveler out of me. I have loved to plan and embark on adventures my whole life. For a while there I’d forgotten.
My expat adventures are making my Mother’s true traveler nature emerge with remarkable frequency and force. She visits a lot. I received this email from her out of the blue yesterday, under the subject line, “Thought from Mom”:
I have been checking frequent flier into Nice thinking I could get to Gordes for lavender and R & R but it takes 170,000+ miles so not possible.
I have a ticket in and out of Milan on hold until the 31st of July. It is a 6+ hour drive from Lugano to Provence as best I can tell and a train ride is about the same.
So-because I have a window between Aug 6-17 I am thinking maybe four or five days at the Serbelloni would be what the doc ordered? I have emailed them about an apt and will see what the response is. Mufasa probably would like to take a trip!
What are you doing in that window? If you need to be focused on work, a move, etc and could not relax I guess you could drive me to Como and I would go alone. I want to swim, sit by the pool, read, walk and visit the lake villages that I have always rushed through. Any thoughts???
I wrote back:
Sure I’ll go!
I’ll go anywhere you want.
I love that you are the kind of Mom who would write that email!
Like Mary Morris said, it was my Mother who made a traveler out of me.