Wednesday, November 29, 2006

It's happening

I have had the great fortune to be able to travel fairly extensively in my life. I have traveled in a variety of proximities, but much of it revolved around singing (I visited Canada, Easter Russia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia with my children's choir and Italy and China with my College choir) and my family. Aside from a family trip to a Mexico Club Med, my first truly international trip was to Kenya when I was 10. I trace much of my fascination and downright reliance on travel back to this trip.

In 1990 my grandfather was 89. He had lived a long life, raised what I consider to be an amazing family and done very well for himself after his family immigrated from Poland in 1906. He had built a life (literally - he was a builder) that accommodated some of the things most important to him - one of which was hunting. My eldest Aunt was her father's daughter, and she embraced the opportunities he made for her, made a fair amount of her own as a pioneer woman in business and has served as a role model for many of us who would love to emulate her success story. Her desire in 1990 was to give her father a gift - a chance to enjoy animals in the wild without shooting them. She was going to take him on safari.

She extended an invitation to our family - would anyone like to join them? My mother and youngest brother (still 14 years older than myself) responded with an enthusiastic YES. A trip was planned for the foursome, they were going to Kenya. During this time, however, my grandfather had been diagnosed with throat cancer (another great love of his life: cigars), and it was touch and go whether he'd be able to go on the trip.

I still remember the day my mom showed up at my school and asked me to wait outside while she talked to my teacher. "How curious," I thought. As we walked home she asked me how I felt about missing two weeks of school. "What for?" I asked. "Grandpa's doctor won't let him go on the Africa trip, and I've asked your aunt if you can go in his place." The trip was paid for, a spot was open, and no one else in the family wanted to go. My mom made the decision for me - extending the trip of a life time to a ten year old who would become an unwitting 4th in numerous games of bridge, an amateur photographer and a lover of all things unknown over the course of the trip.

I have wanted to return to Africa ever since. When I was sixteen my brothers' father (all my siblings are half siblings - two from my Dad's first marriage, including Mac who comments frequently on this blog - and two from my mom's first marriage) passed away. In yet another act of incredible generosity, my brother decided to use a portion of his inheritance to take me on a trip anywhere in the world. I immediately said, "Africa." But, knowing that this was not an opportunity I would likely be extended again, he suggested a true back packing journey through Western Europe, and I'm glad he did as it gave me an opportunity to fall in love with a slew of countries that given my 'pre-disposed to more exotic places' taste, I might not have prioritized otherwise.

I have since returned to Asia and Russia, visited New Zealand, lived in Costa Rica briefly, explored Scandinavia a bit - but Africa has remained a vision etched in the soul of a ten year old girl. And so, through a string of events that reinforce the idea that if you throw your hopes out to the world and they are well placed and worthy, it sometimes responds in force, I am returning in March. I can't wait.

3 Comments:

Blogger H said...

Megan, your writing is always such a treat. What a lovely tribute to your family. And good for you for making this trip happen. I'm sure it will be nothing short of fabulous.

11/29/2006 5:47 PM  
Blogger Mood Indigo said...

Thanks h!!!

11/30/2006 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a wonderful journey Megan. Kudos to you for making your dreams happen.

12/01/2006 10:59 AM  

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