IMG_8015At some point last night in my ins and outs of sleep and insomnia I decided that my husband and I should throw caution to the wind and leave the country every summer. In my dream (or was it in some point of semi-consciousness?) I decided our destination should be Sweden. But as I planned the trip in my head I made up my mind that we should throw caution (particularly financial caution) to the wind and go somewhere else the next year. And the next. And the next.

It may have started in early 2006. I was a SAHM. My husband a 3rd grade teacher. Four kids. No money to spare. But I decided Shane needed to go back to Finland, where he has served as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. A Finn who also happened to work for a local travel company was planning a trip for a group of Finns and returned Finnish missionaries to attend the open house of the Helsinki Temple. We had no money. We had otherwise successfully avoided consumer debt. But I felt strongly we needed to go and so we did. Other than serving a mission myself and being a mom, that trip was a great adventure. The 22 people in our group were all meant to be there, together, at that time, and in that place. Of course I fell in love with Finland, from the wooded east side where we got lost and ate wild lingonberries while the men tried to sort out the directions announced to use over the GPS. To the actual arctic circle where we (sorry Rudolph) ate reindeer, bought hand-carved knives and Christmas ornaments and sent a message in a bottle for our kids. And back down the west side, where we passed through farm country we suspect my great great grandmother may have lived. And Helsinki. Oh Helsinki. The people. The food. The market. The architecture. The throngs of families and people who were drawn to see what was this beautiful temple–so strongly drawn they crashed the unlocked gates one Sunday we were there.

We went back last summer. Shane went a week before me, which means I flew over, found a hotel, stayed the first night, and wandered the city–all my luggage bumping over cobblestone–in the rain, looking more desperately for a) a restroom, and b) the harbor where I was supposed to meet Shane and his group in order to take a cruise overnight to St. Petersburg. But that is all for another day.

The gist is that somewhere between my two summers in Helsinki and a relatively new job (an adventure I never expected) for which I had a number of travel adventures (again, a story for another day), this former homebody has been bitten by the travel bug. I discovered a part of me that longs for adventure in seeing new places, meeting new people, and trying new flavors (and also every cheese board I can find). Discovering something new about myself when I’m over half a century old is perhaps the greatest adventure.

[Day 4 of Ann Dee Ellis’ 8-Minute Memoir]