Countdown to a Dream

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EUROPE
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There’s no particular reason why you should have been over at my home page recently but if you had, you might have noticed a little countdown widget. Currently, it stands at 43 days, just a little over 6 weeks, which is close enough that I’m starting to get anxious and excited at the same time. It’s counting down to — hurray! — my first ever trip to Europe with my family.

This is something I’ve been dreaming of for the longest time. The writer’s profile for my Rappler articles (like this one) even included: “Her bucket list includes taking her family to Rome, seeing the northern lights from the Scottish highlands, and walking the Camino de Santiago.” I’ve since been to the Highlands — but not, unfortunately, at the same time as the Merry Dancers — and I’m now more inclined to pursue the Via Francigena rather than the Camino. The idea of taking my family to Rome has been slow-cooking for a good long while now but a throw-caution-to-the-wind phone call with my sister during a Qatar Airways promo nearly 6 months ago finally kickstarted the process of making that dream a reality.

It wasn’t even two years ago when I was ruing the fact that I couldn’t afford a trip like this. Now, it’s not so much that I suddenly can afford it, as that I’ve come to place a greater importance on doing this trip soon. My parents are still active at 66 but their knees aren’t getting any younger. H is starting elementary school this June — honestly, where’d the time go?! — and it won’t be as easy to pull him out of class. Plus, he’s just under 6, which means he can still go on trains in some countries for free; the costs this will save are not insignificant.

Even more importantly, I think our trip to Sydney last June made us realize just what a worthwhile investment travelling as a family can be, especially at this point in our lives. Before, when I had a trip coming up, my parents would always be supportive but they also made sure to tell me a couple of times that I should consider saving my money. 😀 After that trip, I think their attitude shifted a bit. We recently renewed our passports and my father said, “Ten years validity! Let’s take a trip every year!” That’s definitely something that was never on their agenda. My mum, who never used to be interested in these things, has talked about the trip with her friends and recently, without any prodding from me, went into a shop to buy a sweater. H, of course, has been enthusiastically committing our route to memory and looking at Google Maps street views and watching Italian-language cartoons. (Last December, on our way to a local beach, he asked, “Which hostel will we staying in?” and it gave me a little thrill that he was thinking in terms of hostels and not resorts.)

For my parents to have something new to look forward to, for H to be able to add to his treasure trove of memories that no one can ever take away from him, for the happiness I feel when I see the wonder in their eyes…I just know it will all be worth it.

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Our family in Sydney

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