Yesterday I read the entries from my month-long trip to Britain and Ireland in the spring of 1989. I’d planned and put off that journey for years, and it finally happened at the end of a very difficult year for me. I was a frustrated graduate student with no clear plan for the future. (teach? write? get an editing job?) My grades were good, but I felt my intellectual respect among my instructors and peer students was lacking. I was lonely as well, so desperate for a girlfriend that I stumbled into a pair of disastrous and fortunately brief relationships. I had recently stopped taking an acne medication known to cause mood disorders, but I was still prone to lengthy bouts of surliness. My soul was a dumpster fire of anger and despair, but my spirits rose somewhere between the train ride from London to Cambridge. Being away from the source of my pains allowed me to make a dispassionate evaluation of my circumstances. I realized life wasn’t so bad; many problems I’d identified seemed wholly chimera now that I was half a world away, and I also realized how those that were real had been exacerbated by my foul disposition.
And yeah, I met this gal… but the story we wrote that weekend will be solely ours forever.
Why am I writing about this in a COVID journal? Because I want, need, to have a similar journey, both physically and spiritually. My family and I have been far more fortunate than many, but a year of being mostly confined to our home has been emotionally taxing. I’m not as emotionally damaged as I was back in ’89, which is a good thing. However, I could use a break, and my wife needs one even more. We need to get away from everything for a while, catch our breath a moment after a year of mostly holding it in.
Of course, in a time when the only way I can partially satisfy my wanderlust is to run errands, when my wife and I can’t even cross state lines for a midweek getaway, I’m not expecting to book any flights in the near future. And as I mentioned before, I realize how much better off we’ve been compared to many. Until we can finally take that long trip to a foreign land, it’s best for us to not complain so loudly about our plight.