Elizabeth Gilbert is (at least in her wildly famous book slash movie “Eat Pray Love”) a whiny yuppie suburbanite. I get that going through a bad divorce and then hooking up with a man who is clearly not the best for you is hard. But running away like some college kid to Rome and India and Bali? What does that accomplish really? Other than you get to say “I’m going to spend a year finding myself in these wonderful exotic places. Oh you can’t? Sucks to be you then, don’t it?”
And yet, as much as her books (I’ve read both “Eat Pray Love” and the follow up where she goes on and on and ON endlessly about the hows and whys and wherefores of marriage in “Committed”. By the end I thought maybe SHE should’ve been committed..to a mental hospital for the criminally whiny) have annoyed the every living crap out of me, I envy her. OH how I envy her. I wish I had the time and the money to spend on a year of travel. Just for me. Not because somebody else wanted to go there and I just sort of got dragged along (which is usually what happens to me). On the darkest days when the perpetually sunny skies of Texas (where I’ve lived my entire life) are cold and dreary because we are in the throes of winter, I long for the ability to just get the fuck out of Dodge. To go somewhere where the only thing I have to be responsible for is MYSELF. Not my husband or his eighty four thousand pairs of socks so nasty they could get up and walk to the washing machine on their own stink power. Not my son, with his carnival of special needs which makes every day both absurdly difficult and insanely fun (well..mostly). Just ME.
I literally cannot remember a time when I didn’t have to carry the weight of a thousand responsibilities on my shoulders. I don’t even have the word relax in my vocabulary, because I don’t know HOW to do that. Even on vacation, I feel constantly stressed out, wondering if we are actually maximizing our few precious days off with the most pleasure we can pack into them. I worry that something is going to go slightly wrong, which will end up in my son having a horrific meltdown (he’s autistic, so this happens approximately ninety thousand times every single day, no matter where we are) because I couldn’t predict every single little thing that might happen. Just thinking about all the things that can (and have) go wrong on vacation right now is stressing me out. And I’m not even DOING anything other than sitting here typing.
Like most moms, I never (unless I’m so sick I can’t move) get a real, honest to goodness day off. I work part time during the week, so on the weekends, I end up spending most of the day both days cleaning up and doing laundry as I try to catch up on everything I didn’t do throughout the week due to my busy schedule. And there really is no foreseeable end to this tedium, since there’s at least a 50% chance that my son will never be able to live on his own.
So it’s really not any wonder that I cling to this crazy fantasy of dropping everything and jetting off to someplace foreign for a year or two of hiking and writing and taking gorgeous photos and eating lots and lots of amazing food. It would be so awesome to wake up and not have somebody say (before I’ve even had a cup of coffee and woken up myself) “Honey, could you…?” or “Mama, I need…”. Even if all I did was bum around the UK, it would still be bliss because for a little while at least, the only person’s pleasure I’d have to worry about would be my own.
I know it’s probably never going to actually, yanno, HAPPEN. But that’s why they call it a fantasy, right?