“Next week at this time you will be waking up in Florence.”
As in Florence, Italy.
My nearly-ten-year-old son has his first passport in hand and in less than a week will be joining my high school students and me on a week-long tour of Verona, Venice, Florence, and Rome.
Of course, he will also be joined by his beloved grandmother, one of his best friends, his friend’s devoted and wonderful parents, and chaperones that include people he knows and loves.
Not to mention his mother.
And sometimes this surprises people.
I think back to my world when I was nine. It was small—as was the world of many-a-nine-year-old, I suppose. Travel was never an option, and I did not hop on my first plane until I was 24 years old—to England, no less, to study at the University of London. When people heard about my impending trip, their first words, understandably so, were, “You must be so excited!” My reply could only be—as a responsible young adult with a full-time job—“Of course! I can’t wait!”
But that was not true.
While I was thrilled and grateful for the opportunity, I was nothing short of terrified. The unknown has always given me pause, and this was such a colossal unknown with parts I couldn’t even formulate in the most fertile recesses of my imagination. When I wrote in my journal as the plane took off, my hand trembled. I trembled.
Of course, all’s well that ends well as someone quite famous once quipped. I had one of the most personally and professionally fulfilling experiences of my life. I was a very responsible 24-year-old who learned how very not grown up I actually was.
Travel then became not just a desire but a compulsion. The most profound lessons I have learned in this life have been in places far away from home.
And this is what I want for my children. I would spend my last penny bringing my children to parts unknown because I know—truly know—the benefits, how travel changes the way we see everything, how we transform and grow.
Oscar’s transformation starts this Thursday. Unlike me, he, at only nine, is free to articulate his nervousness. I know once he’s there and the unknown shifts to the magical he will be quite fine.
More than fine.
He will grow.
And I will have a front-row seat.