It topped my bucket list 25 years before the phrase was ever coined. Long before the book 1,001 Places to See Before You Die became a staple in America’s bathrooms. And decades before I ever considered what might happen to a dream too long deferred.
I’m a former reporter-turned corporate working mother of 11-year-old twins who is surviving on one income these days, so it’s not exactly the best time to plan a 2-week family trip overseas.
But I’d like to see anyone try to stand in my way.
This has never been a whimsical, “Gee, I’d enjoy a jaunt to London one day” desire. It’s a gut-wrenching longing, a visceral ache to just set foot somewhere, anywhere in Western Europe.
It even shows up in my dreams, in almost sensuous, soft focus relief. (I’ve suddenly been transported to Paris or Italy, and only have a few hours to explore. Always in my dream, the trip is unplanned. I just somehow “come to” in Europe, my body crackling with anticipation, my mind racing, wondering what I should do and see in the short time I’ll have to spend there.)
So it came as a shock to me when I realized that I’ll be turning 50 next year, and have still never sampled Tandoori chicken in London, breathed in the Tuscan countryside, or read a passage from Death in Venice while idling a morning away at a Venice café.
Why didn’t I go backpacking across Europe as I’d planned upon college graduation? Why did my fiancé and I drop our Greek Islands honeymoon plans to put a down payment on a house instead? Why did I then race to conceive my daughters instead of exploring the Mediterranean Sea?
So many reasons, many of them good ones – but so many roads not taken.
As I approach the milestone of turning 50 next year, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that fulfilling my destiny on this earth involves filling my own cup to brimming, and acting instead of dreaming. And I will step foot in Europe next Fall!
This is the first step of the journey - putting it all down in black and white. Making the commitment to myself that I will achieve this long-yearned-for goal.
And I've already started saving in some unique ways (my entire family is selling old iPods, American Girl dolls and old push lawn mowers on Craigslist for cash, as well as giving up treats like Starbucks Frappucinos and our annual week in the Poconos).
I'll chart my progress in this blog, and hope that maybe I'll inspire some of you to finally make that leap ... and start making plans to fulfill your dreams, too.