“Will you be ok Mum? You know, flying without Dad?”
I raise my eyebrows at my daughter’s comment before replying in mock indignance, “I have travelled before you know! I’ve crossed continents alone. I lived abroad. I think I’ll manage”.
She smiles a sheepish apology and I give my best forgiving look. However I have to confess to a slight guilty pang because, the truth is, my bravado is a cover. She’s voiced everything I had been questioning myself.
In short, she has rumbled me.
It was true. I had travelled alone, far and wide, for pleasure and occasionally work… but that was all so long ago, like a completely different version of me.
In recent years, so much has changed and my frequent-flyer husband with his tatty, stickered passport and assortment of foreign stamps, tends to take charge of all our trips now. After pre-checking us in at the perfect moment, he sweeps us through hidden shortcuts, scanning boarding passes from his phone, telling us where to stand, when to look into the security camera...
It is very straightforward. I knew that. But so long since I’d done it alone.
Years since I’d taken overnight trains through Europe and chicken buses across Central America with just my backpack and the company of strangers.
Forever since I’d jumped on a bumpy local flight from Mexico City to Oaxaca, arriving on the darkest of Zapotec nights knowing not a soul in that land.
Decades since I jetted to Tanzania strapped with thousands of dollars’ cash to pay for a community health course I was organising.
And a lifetime since, aged 18 and flying alone for the first time, I negotiated my way (albeit rather clunkily and setting off a dramatic security alert) through a complicated and time-short terminal change in Paris.
It was a lifetime ago. A different me.
But it was still me. So, scooping up bags, paperwork and a dawdling son… I did it. And, of course, it was fine.
However, it struck me how this thing that had once been second nature to me, had become a foreign land in its own right. Not only had I stopped doing it but, worse, I had started telling myself I couldn’t.
It made me question how easily we accept limitations. How the demands of daily life, perhaps the routines of parenthood, the repetitive responsibilities collude to make us feel less than we once were. They chase us into a constrictive box with little room to move, let alone stretch and grow. We tie our legs together and forget that once, way back when, we were able to run. Huge striding leaps that felt like flying. Leaps of faith.
We forget that, once upon a time, we were more open to adventure than this.
It is more than a short-haul flight. It is a whole life. A man called Jesus once suggested we could live it abundantly. He calls us to untie those ropes that cut into our skin, keeping us in the box. He says it’s time.
Time to climb out and remember the adventure.