My Mother Made a Traveler Out of Me

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.

Katie as Julie c finaleMy 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.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Wow-what fun checking in during the lunch hour to this entry!
    You might not know but I was bitten with the travel bug in 3rd grade when I did a project on the Pyramids. I can remember sitting in class looking at all the projects taped on the wall thinking “This is a big, interesting World and I plan to see it”. Then a Latin teacher in high school taught your Dad and I to love anything Roman which was quickly followed when your Aunt Patsy became an airline “stewardess” for Pan Am, blue suit, white golves, hat and all. Her adventures dared me to dream. For me travel will always be so many things: Learning about new ways of doing things, seeing people living in different ways, and appreciating what I have and do not have, and being completely removed from the boredom of knowing what will come next. I love the excitement of not knowing what is around the corner!
    I am happy you have inherited that gene, even for all the upheaval it causes sometime, your adventures are making you a very intersting woman!

  2. It is wonderful that you have a mom like that! My mom came with my aunt and uncle to visit me in France and I took her to London, but she is not very adventurous, when it comes to travel. I think she would have liked to be, but circumstances were different for her. It’s odd that living in Paris, practically everyone I’ve ever met has been to visit – but my brothers and sister don’t travel outside the US. Guess I got all the wanderlust in the family!

  3. Tara, Yes, it’s funny to me to see who visits and who doesn’t, isn’t it? I’ve had more friends of my Mom’s than my own friends. I’m scheduled to work in Paris in November. Je parle francais aussi. Vraiment seulement un peu maintenant parce que je parle italien tous (tout?) les jours. If you’re not in Jordan, would love to meet.
    Ciao (as we say here),

  4. “I want to swim, sit by the pool, read, walk and visit the lake villages that I have always rushed through. Any thoughts???”

    Yes, I think that all sounds brilliant!

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