Does anyone ever talk about the easy trip they’ve had? I say no. Instead, we seem to hang onto the horror stories of hair-pulling plane rides, long overnights in airports, or traffic jams that leave us stuck on the highway for hours. Certainly, we’ve all had our share of road trips gone badly but this morning I’m here to tell you an enlightening story with a shout out to our fine public transportation system, from a start in Boston to a finish in Vermont.
Mostly, though, it’s a story about “Showing Up.”
I said yes to an invitation to spend 24 hours visiting with three women. We were supposed to be eight but the litany of drop outs started pouring in as we closed in on our day. The excuses ranged from “I just got back from international travels and am totally overwhelmed,” to “need to go to a funeral of a dear friend in another city,” to “exhausted from visiting my sick Dad; we put him in hospice and I need to stay home and regroup.”
Our excuses for having to cancel have taken on a new tone now that we are BA50’s and they can be intense. We have the sickness and death tales to tell, the aging parents who drain us stories, as well as the issues with our kids, no matter their age. And then there is the concern (read: guilt) of leaving our partners on their own. Or, maybe it’s just plain all-around fatigue; the leaving our comfort zone for an outing we think sounds exhausting. Let’s face it: getting out of the house isn’t getting any easier. So what makes us show up?
I made a pact with myself five years ago after having a two year run of not showing up. During the two years after I lost my husband, I literally couldn’t get from Point A to Point B even though I always said I would. I said yes because in my heart I wanted to go out and do things but when the time came I couldn’t get out of my own way to make good. This is a story for another time.
Today I was celebrating the joy of sticking to my word. I said yes to a bunch of girlfriends. I would come to Vermont despite the transportation obstacles that lay ahead. And from that yes forward, the rewards began rolling in.
6:45 am: I woke up, kissed my hubby, put on running clothes, ran my seven-year old puppy Jazz for three miles, Starbucked and showered, and headed out the door at 8:45 am. Rolling bag in hand, along with my precious book club book Rules of Civility by Amor Towles (read it- fantastic) and my $3 Burmese shoulder strapped satchel bursting with laptop, cell phone, and makeup, I made my way to the bus stop steps from my home. (I have driven by said bustop for three years never giving it much thought).
A short three-minute wait and I hopped on the town bus which began the 20 minute ride to Harvard Square from Watertown. This was way more interesting than my normal solo drive to Harvard Square. On this bus I found a village: Preppy Cambridge ladies, an 18 year old speaking Arabic (I believe), a 300 pound man swigging a three-liter bottle of Diet Coke (must be day one of his diet) and a wonderful montage of races, ages and conversations all packed back to back. The icing on the cake? A bus driver with an ear to ear grin and a seated catalogue of what to wear to work fashions. I was totally entertained.
One short drive to the train station later, I hopped off and moved seamlessly into the subway: the Red Line train to South Station. My wait was too short for that train – the bluesy harmonica player was filling my soul with Pete Seeger nostalgia – I slipped a dollar into his “hat” and dragged my load onto the train. I shimmied into a seat and read the cover story of The New York Times telling me how one in five kids between the ages of 16 to 24 in London are NEETS – (not in education, employment or training) and in Spain, Greece, Portugal; all over Europe the numbers are staggering for those youth who are unable to get work. “Whoa – that sounds like the makings of a revolution.” I am mystified and transported to a sad place thinking about what this means for our future.
I haven’t read the paper in days. I’m simply too busy driving to the University to teach my class, driving between my lives in Boston and New York, driving to meetings, to my doctor’s appointments, yoga classes, grocery shopping and the dry cleaner. Now here I sit reading this devastating story. I realize that it is the first time I have stopped to reflect in days. I feel plugged in and it feels good to just sit and think and ponder and read — despite the harsh news.
Riding the bus – riding the rails – and now riding the bus again from Boston to Springfield Mass to meet my group, I feel complete. I am content. I carved out these 24 hours of space, and followed through on my commitment — despite the fact that the travel logistics felt like a burden and my friends’ cancellations had poured in. I had stuck to my word of making the journey. Even better: I am thrilled I chose not to take the offer of a ride from my hubby to the train station and that I decided to take the bus to Springfield rather than drive. I loved getting met there by my friends and driving together rather than alone up to Vermont.
I left the house – left my comfort zone – stepped into a new place – and in the span of two hours I experienced great rewards. Oh yes – let it be said –It’s not the destination it’s the journey. This is most definitely true.
Here we are three skiers -happy on the mountaintop, and the four of us back at the ski-house. Showing Up never felt so good.