Memories and imagination are powerful forces.
On the days when things aren’t going right or I’m sandwiched for a half-hour between two women with new babies at the doctor’s office, I draw on those resources.
Where do I go? Usually, I’m in Prague.
A couple of years ago when things in our lives had settled down in terms of jobs and my finishing school, Arthur and I started planning the trip we’d hoped to take since before we were married. This was well before infertility entered the picture. We went to the Triple A office, met with a travel agent, and got a stack of glossy brochures for trips to Europe.
For a few weeks, we pulled out the brochures at every chance we got. Some of the trips were wildly long or out of our budget. Some we marked or put aside with a “someday” in the back of our minds. Some we dismissed as places we weren’t interested in.
Both of us initially were set on some combination of London-Paris-Rome. What we discovered was that London-Paris-Rome were all really expensive. We could pick one and skip the others and stay within budget, but which one? I love Tudor history and J.R.R. Tolkien while Arthur is fascinated by biographies of Winston Churchill and we both love Harry Potter, so maybe London? Paris has the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, plus I’m of French heritage, so maybe France? And Rome, with too many exciting things to count, plus Italian food?
We couldn’t pick. The trip would be my first time in Europe and I really wanted to see more than one city. So we pulled the sticky notes off the brochures and started over. This time, leafing through one of the booklets, I noticed a different trip.
In my first go-around with college for my bachelor’s degree, I had a professor that told the most amazing stories. I’d wound up in his class because he was offering a course on women’s history that fulfilled my history requirement. I wasn’t keen on history at the time. Oh, sure, I read lots of non-fiction about the Tudors, but I didn’t see that as history, it was way too fascinating. History, as I’d learned it in high school, meant memorizing lots of dates and names and was boring.
The professor’s specialty was centered around Russia and Eastern Europe, and because he taught history as a narrative, fascinating, dark, and full of characters, I took a couple more history classes he taught voluntarily as electives. He described Prague and Budapest and the more I listened, the more I vowed that someday I’d go see these places. After I got to see London-Paris-Rome.
The trip in the brochure I’d found that was within our budget went through a number of cities, including Prague and Budapest. It wasn’t what we’d planned, no London-Paris-Rome, but it felt right. I looked at Arthur. He looked at me. We called the travel agent.
The memories of that trip are the kind that last a lifetime. I find myself walking on cobblestone streets towards Prague Castle and St. Vitus or over the Charles Bridge.
Do you take mental vacations? Where do you go?