Sunday, March 6, 2011

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Thinking about my upcoming trip has been a welcome relief from some of the ugly weather we've had around here. But now that I'm actually packing my suitcase, making long lists of bill-paying and petcare-arranging and finishing projects for work and confirming reservations and . . . okay, you know . . .now that I'm doing all these tasks and the trip feels very real and imminent, now the weather delivers a few lovely sunrises, some charming spring mornings, March birdsong, and a myriad of plants ready to burst into bloom as soon as I lock the door and close the gate behind me.

At this stage, the week before a trip, I often experience this conflict. To be sure, once we arrive in London, I'll be thrilled to stroll down to the Portrait Gallery or across the Thames to the Tate Modern. A few days later, I'll be racing to get to the Pompidou for the Mondrian exhibit. I will enjoy my good fortune, making the most of time away with my husband in a giant candy box of new cultural possibilities, wonderful culinary offerings, not to mention retail opportunities unparalleled close to home.

But for now, I can't help wonder why we'll be away when those new species tulip finally bloom to reveal their interior colours. How can I bear to miss the flowering red currant, surely all gone to seed by the time we get back in six weeks? Will this be the year the hydrangea petiolaris finally blossoms, and I won't be here to see?

Perhaps this is why I make the lists of before trip to-do's so long -- so that I'm too busy to contemplate the garden and home life I'll be missing between now and May.  Pater's approach is wiser: he isn't wasting time fretting over lists this week nor fretting about missing home while he's gone; what he does instead is savour where he is now -- today, he took the newspapers outside to read in the early March sunshine -- it's only warm if the sun's shining directly on you, but it's a lovely harbinger of what it will be like when we return.

Sadly, I'm not so evolved as Pater, so I'm back to worrying over my lists, although I'll take time for a garden stroll a bit later. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you think about home when you're away, or wonder if you should be staying when you're leaving? Or are you out the door with no regrets?


  1. I totally understand where you're coming from. Going away takes some work. Might I suggest that one of you has to be thinking hard about that right now?

  2. I do make lists (rather obsessively) but I don't tend to worry about what might be happening in my absence unless I've left the kids behind. In that situation, I'm always convinced that I'll miss something momentous, or that they won't be looked after properly, etc, etc ...

  3. Your garden is such an ever-changing joy, I can certainly understand the mixed feelings about leaving it. I tend to be a "full speed ahead" type, but do find myself missing the dogs (and petit monsieur on those trips for just the two of us) as soon as we reach our destination.

    Those pictures are gorgeous. Glad the weather's giving you at least a short break.

  4. Thank you for articulating so well the emotions I feel before travelling. I am glad some one else feels the same way.

    We are planning a trip later this year. We haven't yet decided whether it will be China, where we have never been, or Paris, for the first time in 30 years.

    I enjoy the planning and the anticipation, love seeing new places or revisiting others, but in the last few weeks before we go I get coldfeet.

    It's partly about missing home and family but also anxiety about being somewhere unfamiliar, catching planes and trains. Will this place I have longed to see live up to my imaginings or will I be disappointed and feel I have lost a cherished dream. Once I am actually en route, all the anxieties disappear and I'm excited again.

  5. K: So much better that you said this than that I did -- but I absolutely agree that one person's ability to be nonchalant about trip prep depends on another person's ability to fret. Stuff just has to get done!
    Tiffany and Pseu: Now that our kids are grown, I often feel an oddness on a trip, that of not worrying about them -- I feel as if we should be checking in, but then realize how ridiculous that is.
    I actually don't miss the garden, etc., when I'm away -- it's just the transitional period right before a trip that exerts a drag.

    Anon: Yes, this is exactly what I mean -- glad to know I'm articulating something that resonates.
    And what a choice you're facing about what will surely be a fabulous trip -- I'll be curious to know what the coin flip says . . .

  6. A good friend of mine once said "You know that saying that goes - when one door closes, another one opens? - I agree with that sentiment, but it's the time spent in the hallway between the doors that I suck at."

    I have a hard time with transition, whether it's going on holidays, changing jobs or starting/ending a relationship. Maybe that's why I work so hard at moving quickly through the hallway.

  7. Sounds like Pater really lives that Power of Now philosophy! I used to worry about what I left behind when we had children at home. Now, we just take off.

  8. Mater, I experience much the same emotional up and down prior to travel. I think it's a natural female thing since we are so invested biologically to hearth, home and offspring. We are off to Amsterdam and Paris in mid April. Past travels have proven I should relax, enjoy, repeat!

  9. Girl: Yes! The hallway is a perfect metaphor! A place that makes me very uncomfortable. Happy to see you here, btw -- and I note we featured similar photos here and on FB.
    Duchesse: He really does -- and he needs very little. A bit enfuriating to me at times, for reasons K-line suggests, but I've learned from him as well, and am often envious.
    For me, it's not so much worrying about leaving anything behind, but it's just that as I get ready to leave, I feel the pull of all the attractions at home and wonder why I'm going.
    Marguerite: Welcome, and thanks for commenting -- so you know what I mean as well! Amsterdam and Paris -- that will be a lovely trip. We intend to do that combo one of these years, sooner than later, I hope. And yes, relax, enjoy, repeat is a v. good prescription.

  10. I rarely give home a seconds thought, but maybe that is because I feel like I am camping in my own home most of the time!
    The only thing I miss is to sit down for an hour some nights with a cup of tea and watch some BBC.
    Get packing and I will see you soon!

  11. I share the same pre-travel angst, but once out the door it seems to disappear. Loved the hallway metaphor as it so aptly describes that transition period between going and coming.....My best wishes to you for a wondrous trip.
    Bon voyage!

  12. I share your list making and worries about home when we are away...
    I have a house sitter which helps me immensely...
    I do try to live in the Now as Pater does but thoughts creep into my mind about the safety of my family when we are separated...I think it's a mothering thing...
    our homes and gardens are like our children too.

  13. I too am a worrier when it comes to planning trips. Martin is like your Pater, always in the moment. Not a worrier.

    I am jealous of your trip to the Mondrian exhibit. Enjoy!

  14. Alison: For me, it's the morning cuppa, the one that makes me human -- almost impossible to get when away from home. . .
    Michelle: It's a good metaphor, that hallway, isn't it? I'm wondering, to pursue that metaphor, whether it's best simply to speed through it, or whether there could be comfort stations along the way to help with the adjustment . . .
    Hostess: House and cat will be well cared for here, as well -- but it's the hallway that's the problem ;-) so glad to have a metaphor for it now!
    Susan T: My fingers are crossed for the Mondrian -- it was top of my list (well, that and the Tate's Miro, on next month) for this trip, but it ends within two days of our arrival, so I'm a bit nervous about it. I'll def. write about it here if we get to it.

  15. Reading your reply, ma, I am thinking your wondering if you should leave may just be a form of deep appreciation. And it will feel doubly wonderful when you return. Bon voyage!

  16. Duchesse: I really like this interpretation, Duchesse. Thanks for taking time to come back and add the comment.

  17. I always suffer from this angst. I love to be away but hate to leave. The prep work is so intense I feel like my brain is on overdrive which clearly it needs to feel more often since it seems to only kick in the week before we leave. I love the idea of throwing stuff in a bag and locking the door without another thought. Can I become that person? Can you? Have a wonderful trip!

  18. L'age moyen:
    I love that idea as well -- it might be part of the appeal, for me, of Lee Child's Jack Reacher mysteries. Man doesn't even have a door to lock!
    That said, I love having a home that I mind leaving. . . and you have all those wonderful bags and boots and thrifted, fabulous skirts . . . Thanks for the bon voyage wishes -- I'm very curious to see whether living for 6 weeks out of a carry-on will inspire me to purge my wardrobe on return -- or to stuff it!!

  19. Update from Anon (Lilibet) on Paris versus China.

    We've opted for China later this year so as not to strain the budget.
    We made a last minute decision to go to Malta (from Australia) to attend a family wedding in early April.

    I'm reading your packing posts with great interest. I have 2 weeks to pack and find a wedding outfit.
    What is it about women that
    makes us stress about what to wear to weddings even when not in the official party? Also makes us want something new, although we may already have a suitable outfit.

    I'll have to wait until next year to see Paris again, so we can enjoy it without scrimping too much.
    For this year I'll enjoy it vicariously through your posts.


  20. Malta, China, both holidays some very exotic from here.
    Yes, that whole wedding thing can be a challenge -- more and more I've been getting comfortable with choosing something from my wardrobe, perhaps splashing out on a new accessory, shoes, or whatever.
    I'll be Mother-of-the-Bride this June, though, so I'll have a v. good excuse to buy something fab in Paris or London (within budget constraints, of course). Hope I can find it.


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