I had a less than composed moment this weekend.
One of my favorite travel companions is my stepson Ken. I love traveling with him, because I get to see the world through the eyes of someone who sees the world dramatically different that I do. He is a curious traveler, and he has the assertiveness of the true extrovert. That makes him a good match for me. I wish I was more curious. And I try to travel with extroverts so that I am not limited by my natural Scandinavian reserve. Last winter, I proposed that Ken accompany us on a cruise this fall or winter. You will hear my thoughts on cruising at some point, but for now, suffice it to say that I believe that a cruise would be one of those amazing vacation experiences with Ken. He would have limitless freedom that the small community of a cruise ship offers accompanied with the opportunity to see parts of the world that might otherwise not be readily accessible to him. Ken is disabled, and like many disabled individuals, his finances are pretty tight. We’ve taken him on a number of vacations, but as he’s grown older, his jobs and finances have limited his ability to travel. This year, Ken is receiving a nice tax return in September. And so, by planning far in advance, I thought that we might be able to make this happen. I found a cruise that would cost him approximately $420 that leaves after the holidays (a time period that is very busy for him at work and socially). We agreed that we would front the cost of the transportation and we would hopefully build in a short visit with his aunt who live sin Dallas.
As you can see, I built a very nice argument in favor of Ken accompanying us on this trip.
He called me yesterday to say that he and his girlfriend were planning on becoming engaged in August and that he wanted to buy her a ring, so he could not afford to go on the cruise. I was broken hearted. It was a silly feeling. He’s an adult. He’s allowed to meet someone, fall in love, and choose to buy a ring instead of a cruise. I may have some concerns about the speed all this is happening. And, I may wonder about the need for two people in such difficult financial circumstances to buy rings. But then, a cruise is not a better use of money than a ring.
Or is it?
When I married my husband, we had been living together for years. We did not feel the need to announce or engagement. We planned a wedding in less than five days at the courthouse and we invited our best friends and our family. Some of our family couldn’t make it, because the scheduling was so tight.
We did not buy rings. My father gave us a generous gift (probably in recognition that I was not asking him to pay for the wedding). He bought us a short honeymoon in Las Vegas a few months after our wedding. It was ungodly hot, but we really enjoyed ourselves. We stayed at the MGM Grand, and we visited the now-closed Liberace Museum where we saw the amazing car collection.. and the entertainer’s great mirrored piano. We saw Mamma Mia when it was playing in the main theater at the Mandalay Bay. We drove to the Hoover Dam, and stepped over the border into Arizona.
A few years later, I inherited my mother and grandmother’s wedding diamonds, and Tom and I decided to invest in wedding rings. Even though I love my ring, and it reminds me of my Mother and my Grandmother whenever I look at it, I love travel more. I love remembering the trips my Mother and I took together. How we froze ourselves at Candlestick Park in San Francisco watching a very young Barry Bonds play in left field. How we walked all over London, and Mom bought the umbrella from Harrod’s to prove it. And how, no matter what we did when we stayed at the Embassy Suites in Chicago, we could not get the maid to stop waking us up for a “room check!” at 8:00 a.m. every morning (even if we did put out the “Do Not Disturb” sign).
These memories are pretty substantial pieces of who I am. In a piece this past January, Travel Blogger Ben Colclough theorized that many of us travel because “we have to. It’s in our blood, an itchy footed restless careless desire to up roots and see and do something new, to break the routine of life.” And certainly, that is part of who I am.
There are other people who value rings over trips. Maybe Ken is one of them. If I were living Ken’s life, I would skip the rings and invite the girlfriend on a cruise. I’m not, though.