37. A New England Escape
When I originally planned this chapter, it was supposed to be this big amazing conclusion that led to a brand new life opening. I could see it, feel it and envision exactly what I was going to say. I had even started the chapter as if it was already in existence, only needing some details from the actual experience to fill in the blanks.
Scratch that. That journey never took place, but a surprising alternative stepped in to bring everything full circle.
In fact, it’s rather apropos how emotionally educational this latest discovery was, considering this book was written to share the life lessons I experienced with every adventure I took, and this story certainly has multiple layers to it. This particular weekend that I had set up to be my grand book finale, I was planning on being in San Francisco. The curiosity began about a year earlier; I kept seeing and hearing about San Francisco everywhere I went, and this lasted the entire year. The book from the author I was reading at the time was from there; a work conference I wanted to attend was there; and a woman who reached out to me to create a “real” inspirational television talk show was from there.
But the coincidences didn’t end there. All over my newsfeeds, consistently I would see mention of this very city. More authors, people I met and stories came from the area. I had forgotten I had put the Golden Gate Bridge on my vision board after learning about the show opportunity, to manifest my way out there.
There it was. Plain as day. All of these messages—and I mean, not a week has gone by without strong mentions of San Francisco.
Even when I was trying to get out there, the synchronicities were off the chart of friends who lived out here who I could visit, other friends who just happened to be out that way that particular weekend, money-saving opportunities supporting the trip, etc. Completely insane.
I had asked the angels what this pull to go there was all about, and they had just mentioned that they wanted me to experience the energy of San Francisco—though I still had the feeling that there is something out there that awaits me. An opportunity? A relationship? It could have been anything. I wasn’t quite sure what the intention for getting me out there was, but it was clear that I needed to be there. I just didn’t know how.
And then I found out that the work conference I saw last year was being held there again this year, and I thought, that’s it! It was the perfect opportunity to explore San Francisco while receiving new business training at the same time. It just so happened that I was researching a professional development opportunity to attend, something that was more in alignment with my skills and responsibilities than other seminars that were being offered to me, so when my computer search turned up this conference, it felt like a complete win-win, divinely orchestrated for the good of everyone.
Unfortunately, in the end, a budget cut killed that chance and I wasn’t able to go. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t the right time or opportunity; that something else was meant to happen, or that I was to go there some other way, at some other time, and work just wasn’t meant to be a part of it. I was open to that idea, and let go of the disappointment.
The universe has a different plan, and I’d just have to wait and see what that was.
But when that trip fell through, I did immediately think, what can I write my last chapter on? How can I release the book without a significant journey? (Priorities, right?) Going to a Renaissance Faire was not all that inspirational of an ending, and my next trip to Disney really is just a repeat.
But then after a conversation with my son on our front stoop, while enjoying the beautiful fall weather, talking about states he’d like to visit, it clicked—I was going to take my family on a tour of the New England states that weekend to witness the fall foliage and experience the season at its finest. As long as I had lived on Long Island, I have never done that, so I thought, what a perfect back-up plan to my San Francisco disappointment. I’m turning rotten pumpkins into pumpkin pie!
It was so perfectly planned, and something that my mother had always dreamed of, so I was surprising her with a trip of a lifetime. We were going to drive up to Vermont to see the changing colors, and enjoy a day at a resort with lots of fun fall activities. Then we’d drive through and stay in New Hampshire—just to check it off the list—before we continued our drive up into Maine. The next day, we were going to see the coast, and my mom would have her dream lobster dinner on the water.
We’d then travel down the last day to Salem, Massachusetts for a Halloween adventure, visiting the witch museum and other spooky attractions to get in the mood for the upcoming holiday. And even though we knew that would be a lot of driving, and tiring, we were ready for it! Some family bonding time, visiting states we had never been to, and proof that even when plans fall through, we can always make the best of it and choose a different adventure.
But that wasn’t in the cards for us. It actually ended up being a complete disaster.
Note to self: heed the mercury retrograde warnings and never plan a trip during this time (or, be prepared for the worst). I’m not one for a GPS (I like to follow my internal one, combined with really bad
mapquest directions), but after this trip, I’m sold on one. The interpretation of the directions had me looping around, thinking I was going the wrong way, only to turn back and find myself in the same spot I was in before (which was the right direction, after all), tacking on two additional hours of travel.
That wasn’t that bad that it ruined the trip—yet. We got to our destination, ready to indulge in some fall festivities, but pumpkins were sold out for the pumpkin painting, the hot chocolate was awful after a half hour wait in line and not much else was going on that was all that impressive. After driving 7 hours, the kids (bless them for being such troopers though!) were like, is this it?
Yeah, kids, apparently this was it.
Then my daughter came down with a stomach ache, it got really cold and we starting bickering a little amongst ourselves. But we chalked it off to Vermont not being one of our favorite states, and on we went. We started off towards our next destination: dinner and an overnight stay in New Hampshire. We were all looking forward to bed at this point. And of course, being cranky, irritable and tired of driving already, the fall foliage really held nothing special for us at that point. Sure, the scenery was beautiful, but there are only so many hours of looking at colored leaves that one can take. Perhaps if we were in a different state of mind, we would be more impressed; maybe the next day when we were in Maine, we would appreciate it again.
But when we finally arrived to New Hampshire three hours later (after more lost turns and patience wearing thin on all of our parts), we were tired and hungry and just wanted to go to sleep. We found our hotel, and a little diner near it, so we headed out to eat first. But as we were in the waiting area, I looked up my reservation to make sure I had the right hotel—and realized I had booked the wrong date. I had booked us for Sunday night there (same night I booked the Maine hotel), but not for Saturday like I was supposed to.
So, I tried to keep calm and called the hotel to see if they had any availability for the night. They didn’t—they were booked solid, and I couldn’t switch my reservation night (but I could cancel without payment penalty, thankfully). I tried the other 3 local hotels there, and nothing was available.
Panic set in.
We ordered food, but I couldn’t even concentrate on that. All I cared about was trying to find a hotel anywhere along our path to stay at. But being that it was a holiday weekend, in the peak season of fall, in New England, there were no vacancies within a 4 hour radius. Not even if we skipped Maine and headed towards Massachusetts and spent more time in Salem. Absolutely nothing was available, aside from a $500 room in Boston. I wasn’t about to spend that kind of money, even if it would save our trip.
People in the diner were so kind and trying to help us figure out small town names, anywhere there might possibly be an open room. Phone calls were made, internet sites researched. Nothing. It was 9pm and I didn’t have a place for my children to sleep. I couldn’t hold it back. I was stressed and emotional, and the tears and anger just came pouring out. This wasn’t supposed to be happening. We were supposed to be on an adventure enjoying the fall, making bucket-list dreams come true. But now I was faced with the decision—argument from my mother included—to drive straight for the next 5 hours all the way home.
One thing about me: when I make a decision and am determined, nothing will stop me.
I was angry. I was sad. I was beyond consolation. One child was happy the journey was coming to an end, the other showing heartbreak on his face. My mom was trying her best to switch roles; as I was the positive one on our ever-detoured trip up to Vermont, she went into over-optimistic mode during this crisis, which I was having none of. I was curt, but apologetic. I didn’t want to take out my frustration on her, and I knew she had only the best intentions, but I couldn’t talk about it. I just had to drive and drive and drive until I got home. It was over. I was done.
Triggered, I certainly was. I drove, trying to keep the tears from pouring down my face. I was summoning up the strength and energy to safely get my family home. I would not put their life in jeopardy, but they weren’t about to sleep in a car. I’d get them home to their beds one way or another. As I demanded
silence from everyone, all I could think about was, why was this happening? Why weren’t the angels coming through with a backup plan? Why am I being forced to drive all the way home? Where were my options, my spark of hope?
In San Francisco. I wasn’t even supposed to be here right now. I should have been in San Francisco. The anger bubbled up inside. This is not what I had wanted, or needed. I needed a break away from everything I was feeling. I was trying to escape. San Francisco fell through, so I had to fill the space with a different adventure because I just couldn’t face life as it was in that moment.
And there it was. Clear as day. I was trying to escape.
Unlike most other times I have gone away, where it was for the experience, this time, I was trying to escape the reality of my life and fill so many voids that happiness did not fill. I thought going on a trip
around the New England states and checking off wishlist items would take away the pain of what I can’t face here on Long Island. Birthday frustrations resurfaced about my job, finances and relationships, begging the deeper questions:
What is my purpose? Is there such a thing? If so, am I headed in the right direction? What AM I meant to do and be? Why do I feel like I just don’t belong here—or anywhere—anymore? Did I ever belong? Why even with so much healing, optimism and faith, have I been unable to make a genuine, healthy love connection?
I felt trapped in a reality that hurt my heart and soul. And the disaster of two potential escapes which were supposed to make me forget about it all, instead exposed my vulnerability and made it very, very real how I felt like a complete failure, and I wasn’t sure which way to turn, or how to make it better. It left me wondering if I was on a path back to depression, and that was a scary place to be.
I realized I just couldn’t cover up how I felt with a weekend getaway.
Sometimes you just have to listen to your heart in your darkest moments, and hear what your inner guidance is trying to tell you, rather than fight against it. Something was intrinsically off in my life, and escaping was not the answer. I do always learn something, though, when I am out and about, and I don’t intend to ever change my adventurous spirit. I just need to understand my intention behind the journeys that I do take. Some of my journeys have been directly created for healing purposes. Some of my trips were to strengthen family or friend bonds. Some had business purposes, others were for a cultural exploration.
And some, like this one, were clearly a fantasy escape wishing away life as I knew it, as if I would find something better to miraculously take its place.
Not every adventure has met my expectations. But every adventure has met my needs, whether I realized it at the time or not. I can tell you this much: an adventure based on escaping from life itself is not an adventure; it is a wakeup call waiting to happen. And there is no greater lesson than awareness, because from there, you can clear out and create anew.
So what if I don’t know what my life’s mission or purpose is yet? I show up with the intention of being loving, helpful and supportive every day, and that is enough to inspire me to greatness. So what if I’m not exactly where I wanted to be in life yet? I’m much closer to my dreams than I was 7 years ago (or even just one year ago). So what if I don’t fit in anywhere? I embrace my uniqueness, and the right people will accept me for who I am. So what if I’m not in a relationship? I have people who matter in
my life who I love, and who love me. I can’t force life to give me what (I think) I want, but I can choose to accept the wonderful things life has given me.
As for realizing that I cannot escape—the sugar-coating has been stripped away, and all I am left with is cold, hard truth.
And that’s the gift that I get to take away from this most recent debacle: I get to surrender and allow transformation in. I get to give up, and let life create a new adventure for me from the space that has now opened up through this clearing. I get to awaken to unlimited possibilities, and witness divinity in motion as a higher plan is revealed.
Here’s my truth: The real journey is not the physical roads I travel;
it is the one that is navigated within my soul.
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