“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Charles Dickens
Anxiety disorders rob us of so many things, and one of the losses I resent the most is the ability to look with open-hearted enthusiasm and anticipation on an upcoming journey. Instead, before trips, I don’t sleep, convinced that disaster is looming, whether on a minor scale with forgotten items or lost luggage, or on a major scale with hostile TSA personnel, missed flights, plane explosions, an outbreak of war in the country to which we are going. (Our last trip was to Iceland, so war is far less likely than an invasion by pirates . But, tell that to my brain.) If my destination is a conference, everyone will dislike me, ignore my paper, walk out of my talk, or share disbelieving looks about my appearance. If we’re visiting friends, they all like Tech Boy better, wish I hadn’t come, ignore my contributions to conversation. Yay for being mental! It goes on and on.
Oddly, after I’ve convinced myself to leave my house, and, after a day or two of being somewhere new, deep in my soul, I still like to travel. I especially love riding in a rented (riding, not driving. If I’m driving, the anxiety is back with the map and the indecipherable directions from the nasty little woman in the GPS) car in a new place and just looking it over. Driving through neighborhoods. Imagining myself in a different life, with new items on the shelves in a wholly different grocery store. I don’t know why road trips speak to me in such a particular way, but today I’m grateful for that liminal space between destinations, of being able to see the world while remaining unseen, and to feel the freedom of a road not previously taken spooling out from beneath my tires.
“Now, on this road trip, my mind seemed to uncrinkle, to breathe, to present to itself a cure for a disease it had not, until now, known it had.” ― Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures