What are parents to do when their adult children decide that working 9-5 for someone else isn’t the way they want to spend the best years of their lives and the traveling thing is the right thing for them; eschewing all previous conventions and throwing caution to the wind? Especially what are parents who are currently planning their own grand adventure and wishing they had known they could have done this years ago, possibly taking the kids with them, supposed to do? (Did you follow that?)
There are lots of blogs written by young people who have made a life out of traveling and becoming world citizens. Here’s one, and here’s another one and even another one and if you are so inclined you, too, can do the Google and find more blogs that will claim to teach you how to be a travel ninja. Some travel on sailboats, some travel on land. And probably all of them had parents who had minor melt downs when they decided to take the plunge. WhhhAAATTT? You aren’t going to have some sort of ‘stable’ career in a system that will treat you like a number and steal your youth out the top of your head? Are you crazy? We ARE those parents. So instead of wringing our hands in despair because our oldest child, Claire, has embraced the traveling lifestyle rather than a boring desk job in some soul-sucking environment we decided to throw her a party instead. Complete with pony show.
This is not a new decision Claire has made. Oh no. She got the travel bug early when she studied and traveled in France. That was her first trip. Then there was the additional trip to France where she got certified in Business French and then stuck around for a few more months. She’s good with languages. Then she graduated from college and ‘real life’ settled on her like a curse. With it came the crushing realization that traveling was either for the independently wealthy or for some lucky people who found jobs that allowed their creativity to flow as they traveled. She went to work for Nordstrom as a personal shopper. It’s not as fun as it sounds. Oh, she could tell you stories…
Enter the ‘head hunter’ and a job for an insurance agency in Tacoma. Let the soul sucking begin. On a vacation for two weeks, she went to Ireland and fell in love with traveling again, coming back with many stories about people she had met, places she had seen, castles she had explored. We hope she kept notes because she is a good writer and some day she will need them. Memories fade.
Not moving up fast enough in that agency, she landed “THE JOB” in Seattle and moved from sleepy Tacoma and her little Victorian house apartment to the big city and a beautiful apartment overlooking Elliot Bay. She had ‘arrived’. She worked her ASS off. But time was passing and her best hours and years were being given over to someone else; someone for whom she was simply an employee. The good money she made wasn’t enough. She took a vacation to Scotland and came back a changed woman. That’s when the planning began. Money began being saved. Designer clothes were left on the racks at Nordstrom. Dreams began to be plotted. Then a one way ticket to Edinburgh was bought.
She let her apartment go, had a huge garage sale and sold almost everything she owned. She moved home with us, back in Tacoma, where she could save more money. She stockpiled travel ninja skills, left the job-of-death, and then took off for Scotland. That was last December. Alas, post-911 no one wants people from other countries staying too long, so she had to leave Edinburgh behind for awhile, but she already has her return ticket.
To welcome Claire home, we had a gathering at our home and invited her good friends from Seattle and beyond. It was a dandy group and made me look forward to the days when we will be able to entertain people from all walks of life in our own cockpit on Galapagos. And yes, there was a pony, too, because our family has a running joke when either of the kids are off traveling. The joke is that we bought a pony while they were gone and everyone is having fun with it except them. It’s one of those ‘inside’ jokes that mean ‘we miss you, but we’re having fun with our lives, too’. But when planning this shindig, I thought it would be brilliant to have a pony show up at the party for snuggles and photo ops. Fortunately, Andrew’s girlfriend, Jill, has ‘connections’ in the horse and pony world. And so it came to pass that a cute pony named ‘Norm’ made a grande entrance in our backyard just as the festivities were getting started. A good time was had by all and Claire was completely surprised in the best possible way!
So now that the party is over she has to replenish her ‘cruising kitty’. Just like cruisers who have to stop and replenish their bank accounts, no matter how cunning a ninja you are, traveling takes some money. So, aside from skyping the main squeeze boyfriend back in Edinburgh (who will be coming to visit us in September!) she will be spending considerable time and energy figuring out how to find temporary jobs, or creating a way to keep this gig going. She would like to find some kind of employment that would allow her to work virtually. College educated, excellent customer service skills, great people skills, National Merit Scholar; quick learner and that internalized sense of responsibility that most employers wish they could find, we take the leap of faith with her that the world will offer up a way for her to follow her heart. How can we do any less? I mean, that’s what we’ve been teaching our kids all along. So it better work! Come on Universe! We’re counting on you!