Remember before you had kids and you acted like you had an endless cash flow by taking all the trips? Vegas trips, spring breaks, summer vacations. It seems like we’re at an age now where we’ve gotten stuck somewhere between work and momming and maybe aging parents, and we’ve stopped traveling so frequently. Whether it’s money, time, or lack of child care, we talk about the places we’d love to visit or go back to, but we don’t always pull the trigger on those plane tickets.
But we should. In my family, we have a saying: “Buy the boat, take the trip.” It comes from a now infamous eulogy written by my father for his father. In it, he talked about my grandfather’s life dreams of owning his own fishing boat and traveling to Italy–dreams that never came to fruition and became the two biggest regrets of his life. The motto of the story was simply summed up with the phrase “buy the boat, take the trip.” Life is too short to let the day-to-day worries stop you from doing the things you most want to do. Do those things while you still can. Make the memories. Manifest your joy.
I have tried to live by this motto and take trips with my friends, husband, and family. But I’ve gotten caught too in the trap of life, and have let some of those traditions go. I was reminded recently of just how necessary it is to prioritize them again.
My closest friends from high school ended up scattered all across the country, so we take an annual girls trip that refreshes our souls and continues to cement the longevity of our friendship. Except we somehow let the 2018 trip slide. Determined to make up for lost time, we booked a bigger-and-better-than-ever girls trip for 2019 to take place at the end of September in New York. Endless emails and text chains have evolved as we excitedly planned what was sure to be the best celebration of 20 years of being best friends.
Until four weeks ago, when we received a text that is to this day the worst text of my life. My dear friend suffered a horrendous medical emergency, and no one knew if she was going to make it. The three of us clung to each other for support, cried our eyes out, and rushed to Atlanta to be at her hospital bed. We didn’t know what was going to happen. We still don’t, exactly.
This was two days before I was supposed to embark on a romantic beach vacation to St. Lucia with Dave to celebrate our 10 year wedding anniversary. Dave let me make the decision about whether to go and looked up all the information needed to cancel the trip. I didn’t know what to do.
My remaining tribe looked me square in the eyes and said, “She’d be so pissed if you canceled this trip.” They told me to go because, as one firmly told me “that matters too.”
And in the simplicity of language that exists between such close friends, that’s all it took. I knew they were right. Life got in the way, and this horrible thing happened that completely took over all of my waking thoughts. This matters to me. But the trip matters too. The time to travel, to experience adventure, to reflect and breathe, to spend time with the love of my life away from the distraction of parenting–that matters. So we took the trip.
And it was amazing. Filled with worry and sadness, yes, but it was also filled with all of those other things that very much made a memory and very much matter.
You’re not going to look back fondly on how much work you got done, how much money you saved, how many tasks you accomplished. But you will definitely remember the trips with gratitude. It’s worth the sacrifice of the schedule, the money, and the time to have the experience. Now. While you can.
Buy the boat. Take the trip.
This is our sanctuary at Jade Mountain, where our room overlooked the Piton Mountains.
Our favorite excursion with Simon Says Tours into the town of Soufriere to go to the mud bath in a drive-up volcano, a dip in a waterfall, a guided tour of the Botanic Gardens, and lunch at a local restaurant in town. One of our favorite days!
To my beloved JHAM, we’re going to get our A back. And I’m never missing a trip again.