Thursday, January 3, 2013


When I was little, I spent all December playing with the wrapped gifts under the tree.  I rearranged them by giver, by receiver, by wrapping paper, by size.  I stacked and restacked and shook and poked, all the while wondering what lay inside.  I could hardly sleep on Christmas Eve.  I burned with anticipation.  In the morning, we were barred from the living room until Mom put on a scratchy old Christmas record and turned the tree lights on.  Then we'd emerge into a wonderland of toys and gifts.  Though not extravagant by many people's standards, it was fantastic to me.  I loved Christmas morning, but I also loved the anticipation of all those many days before.  And maybe, just maybe, I loved the anticipation more.

Now it's not Christmas that gets me rearranging things for hours, dreaming of what will come.  It's travel.  I spend hours rearranging my search criteria on travel websites, entering different dates for a flight abroad, different ports for a good deal on a cruise, researching cheap hostel options and public transportation routes in new cities.  I browse guidebooks and websites and talk to other travelers.  I can spend hours and hours on my vacation before I ever set foot out the door.  That anticipation feeds me.

I booked my first cruise five weeks before departure.  Those five weeks were a blur of happiness.  Happiness and packing.  My Dad joked that I was getting at least $100 of fun out of it before I ever got on the ship.  And that made it a very cheap cruise. 

I once traveled budget style around Central America for six months.  You should have seen me hunting down Permethrin to do a long-term insect repellent treatment on my bed-sized mosquito net, waterproofing my shoes, shopping for clothes that were light-weight, wrinkle-free, and quick-drying, for all the sweat and hand washing and hauling everything around on my back.  The trip lasted for six months, but the joy of it started a year before and hasn't ended yet.

Memories let you live an experience twice.  But anticipation lets you live it three times.

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