I’ve had some bad travel luck recently. The last time I tried to go up to New York – on my birthday, which was traumatic enough – I arrived on the Market East platform to a crowd at least 100 deep and announcements of “indefinite delays.” (Thanks, Septa.) A few weeks later, a cute little voicemail recording informed me that my Amtrak train to Connecticut had been full-out canceled, while the return trip was delayed three and a half hours due to engine trouble. And then there was that whole India thing, with the delays and the canceled flights and the screaming in Hindi.
So I really wasn’t surprised when my brother, Jacob, mentioned that oh, that trip I booked to Ecuador? For mid-June? Yeah, he might not actually so much be there when I made the transcontinental journey.
I’d love to be pissed about the whole thing – especially considering that my “I-really-don’t-have-the-cash-to-be-purchasing-this-right-now-but-fuck-it-that’s-what-credit-cards-are-for!” ticket is conveniently non-refundable – but I’m not. For one thing, it feels totally inevitable. Like, we all knew I had to face some traveling catastrophe. Maybe this time around we’ll just get it all out of the way before I leave. And then that actual week in the developing country will go 100% smoothly. (Ha.)
More than my own travel curse, though, I can’t be mad because I know it really is the best thing for Jacob. In a matter of months, my baby brother has transformed himself from a slightly confused recent college grad, who probably spent more collegiate hours scaling mountains than attending class, to a focused, determined scientist, intent on pursuing a dream that’s actually starting to take shape. In addition to scoring a spot in a crazy-sounding graduate program (pHd in astrophysics? does anyone even know what that means?) he’s also reevaluated what it’s going to take for him to get to where he wants to be. Unfortunately for me, the answer involves a summertime research gig that starts on June 1, an opportunity that requires he miss his last month in Ecuador and that climbing trip out West he had planned with some of his buddies, all in the name of moving forward with his work. Not because someone told him he has to. But because he knows it’s the right thing. And because it’s what he really, truly wants.
It’s enough to make this confused career gal a little jealous.
So, anyway, this is all to say: I’m proud of him. So proud that I’m not really that upset he won’t be there to show us around Quito or make sure we get on the right bus to the jungle. Hopefully poor Benjamin, who had no idea that his host might be MIA until Jake emailed us last week, will reach this stage of acceptance soon. In the meantime, he’s contemplating just not getting on that plane at all and forgoing the trip all together.
Me? I’m going. I’ll admit it doesn’t make much sense (for the same reason that booking this trip in the first place didn’t make much sense): I’m short on money, short on vacation days, short on tolerance for third-world adventures. But the damage is basically already done. The credit card bill is paid, the vacation days secured, the shots (painfully) inflicted. And, despite the fact that most of 2010’s trains and planes have left me in tears, I still have a little bit of faith.
Maybe this adventure will be really, unexpectedly, fantastic.