A while back I had the great idea that I would start writing about how to travel with special needs children because I think that not only do our children need to see that world, but that the world needs to see our children.
However, this turned out to be uninspiring (to me) because the logistics are just as ho-hum as logistics ever are, and (frankly) the only time I write when I feel uninspired by the topic is if someone pays me enough. And I’m not paying me enough.
So I put the idea on the back burner. Then something happened. While Jessica and I were on our most recent trip, I kept a journal, which we wrote in every night, and she kept asking when I would put the entries up on the blog, and so I thought, well, you guys only read the Jessica stories anyway, so what if I just told the stories about travel that way? What if they were just Jessica stories?
It started when Jessica asked if we could go somewhere for Christmas vacation last year. The previous year, we had gone to Disney World, and in Jessica’s opinion, if you do something once and you like it, it is now a tradition, and one must always honor tradition.
“Well,” I say, “where would you like to go?” I am always willing to leave Kansas in the middle of winter. “Not Disney. I love Disney but not another Disney trip right now.”
“I was not going to say Disney!” she claims. “I want to go to New York.”
“New York?” I say. “But it will be winter in New York. Can’t we go somewhere warm?”
“Will it be warm in Italy?”
“Italy?” I have never mentioned Italy as a destination to her, I have never been overseas with her (if you don’t count that time in Nassau), I have no idea where this came from. I look at her, perplexed. “Italy?”
“I would like to go to Italy,” she says, and she looks up at me with the big brown eyes (not the big brown eyes!) and I think of what she has been through, and I think of all the years she may not have, and what is the point of waiting on Italy until I’m seventy, and crankier than I already am, and she is gone? I’ll have a great time then, won’t I?
“Italy,” I say, trying it out. What about Paris, or London, or Shanghai? Why Italy? And why now? And how much does Italy even cost? “Let me look at the budget. I don’t know. That’s a big trip.”
“But you have a job,” she says. Normally she hates the job because I spend so much time at it. “You have a job so we can keep this roof over our heads and pay for the gasoline in the car and the groceries on the table.” I wince at the litany I have repeated to her a time or two in response to her complaints. “And you have a job so we can do the things we want to do. And this is a thing we want to do.”
“Well. You want to do it.”
“Mom. You want to do it, too. You really do.”
She means if I would just let myself want something.
“Maybe.” I am thinking of the Spanish Steps. I have never seen the Spanish Steps though I have always wanted to. I don’t know why. I read about them in a story once, and they seemed exotic and romantic to me. And it stuck in my head as a thing I wish I could do, but never had a reason to. I think of how often I only do things if I have a reason, a good one.
“We will get a book,” she says, because she knows the art of persuading me. “We will do that first.”
“All right,” I say. What’s the harm in a book?
“And then you will know.”
“What will I know?”
“That we are going to Italy.”