There was a time, not all that long ago, when I traveled. As a telecommuter, I made regular trips between Memphis and Chicago. I had work assignments in locales like Boston, Orlando, New Orleans and Las Vegas. I frequently visited friends in Los Angeles, and family in San Diego and Minneapolis. I usually made these trips alone, and if it were possible to get into the wayback machine and drop in on my pre-maternal self, the first thing I would say to myself would be, "Hey! Get the hell out of the hotel!"
I squandered most of these trips, I realize that now. My most distinct memory of my time in Boston is staring longingly at a row of one-of-a-kind boutiques as my co-workers and I hurried toward T.G.I. Friday's. My takeaway from Las Vegas is the food court at the Venetian (where, despite what might be expected, the Sbarro is really no better than anywhere else). And even three weeks in Orlando didn't bring me any closer to seeing an inch of DisneyWorld or Universal Studios (although I had a really spectacular anxiety attack at a work-sponsored outing to Sea World). I was too young and too timid to really get out and appreciate these cities. I clung to the familiar, hovered around the few people I knew, and ate a lot of really unnecessarily awful food.
There were some bright spots in my solo world travels, like the film-making road trip to Massachusetts that garnered me a scar that I swear is from a cougar attack and not from a very awkward attempt at leaping over a barbed wire fence. Or the trek to L.A. for my bowling alley baby shower, where in one of the most bizarre coincidences of my life, my college boyfriend was kicking off his bachelor party. But in general, I wasted most of my freewheeling, jet-setting days.
As I near both the end of the "safe air travel" period of pregnancy and my current non-lactating era, I'm feeling a very strong urge to make up for all these under-appreciated journeys. I've been thinking about taking a trip out to San Diego to see my sister, lie on the beach, and read my way through the backlog of novels and New Yorkers on my nightstand. Only downside - and this wouldn't normally be one, but for me wanting to enjoy just a few child-free days - is that my 10-month-old niece would be in the same digs. And as much as I really want to see her, the idea of a vacation involving mashed food of any sort just isn't exactly what I'm looking for. So then I thought about taking a weekend at The Admiral's ancestral condo, eating at Captain Charlie's, reading, lying on the beach (and I don't even like the beach). But the condo is, technically, an over-55 community, and ... well, like I said about the mashed food. I need to figure something out quick, though, because my window of relative freedom is about to slam shut, and at this point, three days of maid service, room service and free HBO doesn't sound like such a waste of time.