I know after eight trans-atlantic adventures that you can’t plan serendipity. I know that the most magical things happen at the most innocuous times. Driving around a bend in the northern rural reaches of Slovakia and coming upon a woman and children headed out to farm with their horse and old-fashioned implement. That was a Travel Moment. We stopped and tried to talk with the woman and boys in international hand gestures and smiles, shared some cookies and snapped a photo. This one cannot plan. Stumbling across an Etruscan grave in a field in Umbria and exploring it with a booklight and your friends — can’t be planned.
And yet I want to cause the magic. My ten-year anniversary with my travel partner (and husband) falls on June 21.We have planned a fabulous trip around the date and will find ourselves embarking via cruise ship in Naples, Italy, on The Day.
The pressure is on to create an amazing day, memorable and full of delight. That the pressure comes from within doesn’t make it any less real. As well as I know I can’t force it, I find myself machinating, trying to plan the ultimate travel day, a day that will celebrate our marriage in the most spectacular way. I have built it up in my head until, I know, nothing will live up to my ideals. Do we climb Mt Vesuvius? Sail to Capri and float through the Blue Grotto? Wander Sorrento sipping limoncello? All romantic and lovely thoughts.
But the reality of travel — particularly summertime travel — intrudes on my daydreams. It will be hot, muggy, crowded. I will likely become cranky from the long queues and hordes of other tourists, from my frizzing hair and my aching feet. And the more determined I am to enjoy myself or else, the more quickly the magic will vanish.
So my wish is this. Let go of the grand expectations. Appreciate that even if it’s just another day on the trip, a day that may include a pizza and gelato, some exploring in Naples, and nothing special in particular, that it will live in my memory as our 10-year anniversary spent in Italy. Memories of our travels together have developed a pleasing patina over the years. A rich and glowing mosaic of our wanderings has formed in my mind, and this day will be another jewel to add to it. Even if it’s not perfect.