It was a beautiful spring afternoon in 1975. My 5-year-old sister, Michelle, and I trekked across the freshly plowed field towards the rock hill on the edge of our grandparent’s acreage. A warm wind was blowing and we stood together on the top of the hill. Without much thought, I began walking down the “backside”. For some reason, Michelle asked me where I was going.
“West”, I answered. “I’m going west!” I repeated. She started crying and ran toward me as I walked through the grass and wildflowers. It felt so good to have her begging me to stay, not to leave her.
As we have grown older, we have gone on several adventures together. She doesn’t stop me anymore…she wants to go with me. Now, she is the rock that calms and focuses my anxiety when traveling.
In 1992, she flew to Memphis to be my partner as we flew to a family event in Colorado. She was unfazed when I mistakenly left our tickets on the roof of the car and realized the mistake moments later while driving on the one-way road along the airport perimeter. We drove around the airport and back to the spot where I had placed the tickets on the roof. We quickly found that the wind had blown the tickets up against the metal fence a few yards away. Michelle was calm, cool, and collected. I. was. not.
Years later, we traveled together to Ireland. She picked me up from school and talked sense to me to calm my nerves. I was feeling hysterical. She spoke soothing words and convinced me that all was well.
It was…of course.
On the same trip, she actually got super calm and zen. We were on our way back to the car rental drop-off. The goal was to return the car with an almost empty tank. I felt we were cutting it too close and imagined being stranded on a strange highway in a strange country. She had no such concerns. The crazier I felt, the calmer and more centered she became.
I look forward to doing a lot more traveling in the future. I don’t know if it will be east or west, but I know that if I need a calm presence, a steady hand, or a wise voice…she will be there.
It seems that we have developed a symbiotic relationship where our strengths and weaknesses complement each other beautifully.