Well, as I write this, my parents are somewhere over the North Atlantic on their way to Rome, Italy. As every second passes, my mother is farther and farther from U.S. soil as she's ever been. She's never been more than 10 miles outside the United States. My father, on the other hand has been all over the world, mostly when he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam conflict, but more recently he's had to go to Central Europe for work-related reasons. Neither of my parents have ever been to Italy.
I took a ride over to Brooklyn this morning so that I hang out with them for a few hours before dropping them off at the airport for a 5PM flight. It's a great feeling knowing that you're about to go on a vacation to a new and far-off place; I've done it twice and the anticipation prior to the trip is a really cool feeling. Well, even though I'm not going on this trip, I felt that same anticipation all morning just being with my parents. It was a bit of a letdown not to be able to get on that plane and join them, and I said as much during the car ride to the airport. My mother's response was interesting: "Anticipation is not what I'm thinking; I'm scared."
Now this was interesting to me. I know she's never been there and doesn't know what to expect when she gets there, but even during my first trip to Italy I was really excited, happy, and even nervous - but there was no fear. And I was roughing it: going with a vague itinerary, counting on trains and my legs as my only means of transportation when I got there. My parents are going on a guided tour where they get on a bus, travel to cities, see sights, and eat at restaurants mostly under the supervision of a tour director. Oh, and by the way, they're going with my Aunt and Uncle who've used this same tour company 15 times and have travelled to most of the companies in Europe with them. All of the guesswork is taken out of the situation.
I didn't use this line of reasoning - there was no time. We were already at the airport and we were pulling up to the curb. I simply said, "Hey it's not like you're going to the Middle East. Western Europe is pretty similar to us - it's easy. This is just going to be slightly more complicated than Minneapolis."
I loved that line. Especially since it's not true. The truth is that it's going to be much easier than Minneapolis - when she went to MN, she went by herself and met up with friends when she got there. She had to arrange her own transportation, her own hotels, her own everything - with this, she has to do nothing but tag along. It's actually going to be really easy. My prediction: when she gets back, she'll be wondering what was she afraid of?