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Monday, July 2, 2018

There's Only One Road to Now

It never occurred to me when I was a teen and planning out my life, that I would become a teacher or gardener. Gardening was for old people and lunatics who specialized in baseball bat sized zucchini and massive trees growing at sharp angles in tiny spaces. I was going to become a writer and travel the world. It would be a bohemian, artistic life not unlike Hemingway’s days in Paris. To accomplish this goal I spent a few years in college often drunk and occasionally naked and only traveled from party to party before marrying a conservative military officer I met in a bar. I stopped writing, had children, and poured my passionate spirit into creating a garden everywhere we went. 

Isle of Wight, England

But I am an explorer at heart. Little road trips around the area I recently moved to have peppered my summer days. With no final destination in mind. I simply get in the car and drive down whatever street looks interesting. But travel abroad is my favorite. 

beach vacation, English style

With my daughter in graduate school in London for the past year, another trip to England was soon on the schedule. I should have said no when the flight attendant asked if I’d give up my seat for a passenger whose seat was broken and switch to a non-stop flight to London but I didn’t. It seemed like the kindest choice and would get me to my daughter faster. But as a reminder that kindness should always be given simply for the sake of being kind and that the Universe doesn’t owe anyone anything, while I zipped off to England, my luggage stayed in Virginia. 

Ventnor, Isle of Wight

But life goes on, doesn’t it? Despite my fatigue and frustration, I was on vacation and was damn well going to enjoy myself. After traveling by train, Tube, train, feet feet feet, hovercraft ferry,  bus and a short walk, she and I crashed at our flat in Ventnor, on the Isle of Wight. A happy reunion with my luggage was several days away. 

The view out of our Airbnb

Since the airline assured us daily the luggage would be arriving soon, we stayed in Ventnor instead of venturing across the island to the usual attractions. I visited their botanic gardens but only took one picture. Most gardeners probably don’t take pictures of plants they don’t like,  but I did. The largest, most lethargic looking agave I’ve ever seen lay slumped outside the garden entrance. I do not like agaves. I like my plants the way I like my people - warm and cuddly. Agaves are stabby and while I can forgive them for this since it wasn’t of their choosing, I avoid their company.  But to be fair, I avoid people who are stabby, too, since there’s no rationalizing with a psycho. 

Agave have skin puncturing spikes at the end of each leaf.

I don’t like heavily scheduled vacations. That just seems to defeat the purpose. I want to relax and just wander. I’d rather see less and enjoy it more than rush from spot to spot like a five year old on a  sugar high. So we wandered. We climbed the steep hills of Ventnor and took the coastal path back. But I’m not that good at staying on any specific path and kept going off to explore the trails less traveled. One path ended at a steep drop off that not being a mountain goat, I was unable to scale while another required a bit of bush wrangling but ended with a gorgeous view. 

This path was unexpected but worth the extra work.

This view lay at the end.

But that’s life, isn’t it? What we think is the destination might just be part of the journey and we sometimes find ourselves somewhere completely unexpected but absolutely beautiful. We finally made it back to the beach and I  turned and asked my daughter, “Where are we?” But before she could answer, I responded “We’re right here.” “Exactly” she replied. 

Having packed nothing in my carry-on but a good book and a few snacks, I borrowed my daughters clothes and let the wind style my hair.