The thing about coming home from an exhilarating trip is, you soar high on those newly minted memories for a few weeks and then–nothing you can do to avoid it–real life brings you crashing right back down to earth.  And it hurts.

That’s real life’s responsibility, though, and thank goodness for it.  Because if we didn’t have the job to drag ourselves out of bed for, the rent money to earn, the skillet to scrub and the gym clothes to wash; if not for the shopping for chicken cutlets and fresh thyme, the chopping and grilling, the PTA meetings and the doctor’s appointments, how could we ever truly appreciate the time away from it all?  Just as Friday would lose its allure without Monday, so would leisure travel without our quotidian drudgery.

It’s been four weeks now since I returned from my Italian extravaganza (fairly well chronicled in this blog) and despite my best efforts to resist it, I am once more knee-deep in the wet, clinging goo of real life.  I’ve had some paying work recently, but I need more.  I need to pay my bills.  I need to go to the dentist for an exam.  My stepson is coming for a visit and I need to plan meals.  I need to have a talk with my dry cleaner.  I need to get back on track with my workout regimen, as well as with my pre-Italy eating habits.  There are spring clothes to pull out of storage.  There are neglected friends to see.  There is my novel to be worked on, finished—always there is my novel.

(I exaggerate, of course, when I call it all drudgery.  I enjoy many of those things I listed above, but even the fun activities can get to feel like something to check off your to-do list when life is at its busiest.)

All of which helps to explain why, as soon as I’m home, I start to think about—and resources permitting, even start to plan—the next trip.  There’s something to the anticipation that keeps me motivated through the day-to-day, even if that next sojourn is a year away (hopefully not).

So as you read this, I am pondering, fantasizing, weighing a world of options.  Volunteer in an elephant park in Thailand?  Rent a house in Provence for a month?  Roam the bazaars of Fez and ride a camel under the Saharan sun in Morocco?  Experience duende while seeking out authentic flamenco in southern Spain?  Take that trip with Ken back to his native home, the Philippines, but this time explore the provinces?  There’s the rain forest in Costa Rica, the undiscovered beaches in Mexico, the veldt in Africa.  And if we don’t get to The Maldives soon, they’ll be under water!

 The possibilities dribble off my lips in an endless drool, and those are only the places I haven’t yet been.  With only one or two exceptions, I’d also like to return to those destinations I’ve fallen in love with over the years—Paris and Venice and the Amalfi Coast, especially.  (It’s not possible to grow tired of Paris, I don’t think.)

With only so much time, only so much money, the array of choices poses quite a dilemma—but oh, what a delightful dilemma to have!  In my free time (that is, when I’m supposed to be working on my novel), I look up flights to Thailand, check the real estate listings in the South of France, compare tour operators for safaris—just to see.  It gets me through my days, my weeks—that wonderful, painful, wistful yearning time between trips.

It makes me shudder to realize that Ken and I are closer to fifty now than we are to forty, but it means the impetus to travel grows more urgent by the moment.  We are healthy and fit and young for our age (or so we like to think), and now is the time to go.  The only question remains, how to decide, and nothing thrills me more than researching and contemplating that answer.