It doesn’t take travel to see the world


Charlotte Latvala

Charlotte Latvala

As our world gets closer to normal, and it’s no longer socially acceptable to remain ensconced in one’s house for weeks on end, several facts have been nagging at my mind.

I have a kid in Chicago.

I have a kid in San Francisco.

I have train tickets to New York City this winter, to see some Broadway shows with Kid No. 3.

Travel is in my future.

And that makes me nervous. Not COVID nervous (I’m vaccinated and careful and frankly over it) but travel nervous. Well, maybe a little COVID nervous, come to think of it.

But I’ve never been much of a traveler. I’ve barely been out of the United States. Summer trips to northern Ontario, where my parents grew up. One day trip in the other direction, to Tijuana, as a teenager visiting southern California relatives. One short visit to the Bahamas as an adult, many years ago.

I haven’t been to Europe, South America, Asia, Africa or Australia.

In theory, I’d like to go to all those places. I’d love to see Finland, home of my ancestors, and experience the Northern Lights up close. I long to see the pampas in Argentina. I’d give just about anything to walk over the dales of Yorkshire.

But.

I probably won’t. At least not anytime soon.

For one thing, money. (My older daughter, who has been all over the world on a student budget, tells me otherwise, but I’m not quite ready to stay in a hostel.)

But there’s more to it than our budget, which is still reeling from sending three kids to college in the past decade. It’s simple: When I weigh the benefits of traveling versus the pleasures of staying home, home wins.

I’m a reluctant traveler. Puzzling over schedules and departure times makes my blood pressure rise. I’m prone to motion sickness in cars and buses. I don’t do well in crowds, or loud places, or chaotic settings.

It probably goes without saying, but I’m an anxious flyer. White knuckle, check-the-weather-20-times anxious.

But mostly, I just don’t like leaving home. I experience a weird melancholy just rolling out of the driveway, a pull to go back before I’m even gone.

I do, however, take comfort in reminding myself many of my favorite writers (Jane Austen and C.S. Lewis spring to mind) were not great world travelers. Which didn’t stop them from having a profound understanding of human nature.

And sometimes I feel like I already have traveled around the world. I’ve spent so much time in books that some of those places and people feel more real than the ones I’ve known in my day-to-day world.

So, New York City this winter. It’s everything that makes me nervous and rattled and on edge.

On the other hand, there’s the sheer joy of taking our seats in a Broadway theater.

It’s a tradeoff.

If I can make it past our driveway, I’ll be fine. I think.

Charlotte is a columnist for The Times. You can reach her at [email protected]

This article originally appeared on Beaver County Times: Latvala: It doesn’t take travel to see the world



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