If you’ve ever been bitten by the travel bug, you know how the idea of a trip (short or long, near or far) can set your heart a-pumping and your head a-dreaming. Just the thought of walking on ground, or pavement, or cobblestones you’ve never stepped on before can make you pull out the suitcases and start packing.
Sweetheart Al and I were bitten when we were kids. He was in California, eighteen, and about to board an airplane (along with many other young men in uniform) headed for Vietnam. I was twelve, growing up in
Michigan in a family that enjoyed camping in Yellowstone, or the Great Smoky Mountains, or along the shores of Lake Superior.
Decades later, when Al and I met, we were delighted to find we’d both been to Prague, Czechoslovakia back in the 1990s, well before it became a hot tourist destination. He was there with a group of photographers. I went with my reporter’s notebook. And we both found the city, its bridges, buildings, and people life-enriching.
From the start, Sweetheart and I shared the pleasures and challenges of travel: day trips to photograph wildflowers in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, weekend trips to explore little leftover Gold Rush towns along California State Highway 49, and longer journeys to Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Utah.
Then, on a peaceful summer evening in 2012, a car crash changed our lives. We were waiting at a red traffic light, just outside of Napa, California, when a texting driver slammed into us at full highway speed, totaling both our cars in a painful explosion of glass and metal.
Although we suffered no broken bones, we were bruised and banged up and spent most of the rest of the summer at the doctor’s office or the pharmacy trying to get back to normal.
That wreck convinced us that life is fragile. And temporary. You can be doing nothing more dangerous than sitting at a red light and the next moment, you can be in the hospital, or worse, in the morgue.
That recognition changed us. We stopped putting off things we’d dreamed about. We
stopped saying, “We’ll do that someday” and decided to make “someday” today.