It was just about this time last year that our 17 year old daughter announced that she had priced tickets to Nepal and India, and was prepared to go ahead with her plan to visit two different monasteries during a stay of several weeks. After a chunk of soul searching and consultation with travelers more seasoned than ourselves, we agreed to a stay at one monastery inNepal, as long as I accompanied her on the travel portion of her plan. My parallel adventure would be a trek to the spectacular Annapurna Base Camp, and upon completion of our respective itineraries we met up for a couple of fascinating days inKathmandufollowed by three wonderful, guided days in nearbyBhutan.
The trip left a deep impression on us both, in some ways similar, and in others very different, but Kate’s biggest takeaway was a deep desire to see more of our planet, and gain access to more travelers and cultures. The upshot of this is that after graduating from high school in June, she has been working steadily waiting tables and teaching gymnastics (not at the same place) while securing her plans to go toSouth Africa.
Now that her departure date is drawing nigh, I am remembering some of my initial antsiness. She is 18 now, and able to sign for herself legally, and knows what traveling for 24 hours is like. I know that not only is she able to do it, I also know that she has the skills to handle this stretch on her own. I know that she will be picked up at the airport upon arrival inCape Town, and that she has been preparing for this adventure for months.
I am split between the part of me who was compelled to travel as a teenager, who spent a semester abroad inAix-en-Provence, and eight months inBristol. I did not do any solo travel until my cross country trip at age 22, although at 16 I had tried to convince my parents that my friends and I could organize our own trip toGreece. I can remember and connect with that younger part of myself, but I am acutely aware of my maternal side, the part who wants to be ale to stretch her arms to encompassSouth Africaand hold my young adult daughter safe from the vicissitudes of travel.
I am torn between the intellectual and sometimes irrational parts of myself who worries, and thinks that there are too many unknowns, and the part who looks at my daughter, assesses her confidence in herself, her ability to problem solve, and the strength of determination that is behind this whole trip. This is where my subjective view of my child must supercede the objective glance at an 18 year old traveling so far.
I sigh, and know that my heart can expand to encompass another continent. With that knowledge, I can drive her to the airport and wave as she puts her fully loaded pack on her back, and walks through her own fears, and the doors that will take her to her Next Great Adventure. I trust that with her she takes our connection, that of our family and her friends, and the trust in her own wisdom to guide her as she greets what the world will serve up. Go get ‘em girl!