I often engage in adventure travel with my son. While we enjoy museums and food tours, we are low-key adrenaline junkies and enjoy the occasional thrill.
We have zip-lined across the Zambezi River. We’ve ridden ATVs across the Sahara Desert and through a forrest in Chiang Mai. We’ve also flown in a helicopter to get a better view of Cape Town. We love snorkeling in the open ocean and riding roller coasters – the scarier the better!
When you become a parent, you’re often faced with the thought of something terrible happening to your child. One minute you can be watching your child be silly or minding your business washing dishes and the next minute a flash of a terrible accident crosses your mind, briefly paralyzing you with fear.
As plans often do, mine have changed.
While traveling over the last few weeks, I was asked to interview and was offered a position in Tokyo to be the psychologist at an international girl’s high school.
So it seems we are now moving to Tokyo, Japan now.
I’ve always been a daredevil. Well…a safe one. My motto is “YOLO, but don’t die”.
The boy, on the other hand, has always proceeded with caution and lived vicariously through me. When I skydived, he was supportive and even expressed interest in doing it one day, but then was nervous about jumping from the top ladder on a climber at the park. He has aspirations but rarely leaps before fully assessing all possible risks.
When we traveled to Southern Africa for spring break this year, we visited Victoria Falls and I told him that I was thinking of jumping off the bridge. He was extremely supportive and said he would even record the event on my phone and take pictures. When we arrived at the bridge, he decided that he wanted to do it. However, the only option for him to do anything remotely close to that was to do a tandem zip line with me. We took a break for lunch and to take in the scenery from the bridge. Even while looking at the feat he would have to conquer, he insisted that he was ready.
For the first time in his 8 years of travel experience, the boy boarded his first flight as an unaccompanied minor to fly to Kansas to spend part of the summer with my mother. I freaked out a little bit on the inside.
But I didn’t cry. I did good.
Crazy, right?! Here’s how that happened…
I recently visited India with a travel group that I am a member of. The sights, the food, and the people had me in this state of suspended animation. It was as if life stopped for me and I was able to enjoy every moment without my thoughts being carried away. I walked the Taj Mahal in bare feet and touched the marble as I observed and took it all in. Dancing and drinking with an Indian family during Holi was one of the most amazing experiences of my adult life. The warmth and acceptance with which we were treated, I still carry that feeling with me today. I was able to be present and in the moment. That seemed to be a luxury these days.
On my journey home, I met a woman living in Mumbai with her two children around the age of my son. I got to know her family and even became Facebook friends with them. In the cyber stalking that ensued, I discovered their photos of Thanksgivings in Sri Lanka and Spring Breaks in Oman. I wanted that life with my children. I wanted them to know what countries accepted the Rupee and what is the official language of Laos. I wanted to give my son the invaluable education of being a world traveler. So, on the 14-hour flight home I made the decision that I was going to move abroad.