Friday, October 18, 2013

A Suitcase, A Notebook And $3 Million

My cousin David, who lives in Toronto, is always posting intriguing questions on social media that make you laugh out loud or think. A few weeks ago, he posed this question:
"For three million dollars, would you blindfold yourself, touch a spot on the globe and live there for three years?"
And for some reason, my immediate gut reaction was "Yes!"
(More surprisingly, that also was my husband's answer but he might have learned to humour my hypothetical questions.)
Most people, however, who answered David's question said No, unequivocably, while others said they'd go IF they could use part of the $3 million to buy flights back home to visit. Likely, if someone gives you millions of dollars to relocate for a certain number of years, ya gotta complete the time to get the moolah.
I like my job and I like my home in the country but the idea of three years in a new place, with new people to meet, new food to try, new stories to hear -- that seduces me. One of the lessons I learned from my father's experience with dementia is that you NEVER KNOW what could happen. Life is too short to not be able to put your finger on the globe -- and go see what stories you can find.
But the fact is I can't just pick up and go, no matter how many millions are at stake, because I have so much stuff weighing me down. Stuff like property and vehicles, dogs and cats and chickens but small stuff too, like a collection of elephant figurines, a delicate hummingbird nest lined with feathers from our hens, 6 pairs of Alegria shoes (could take them with me...) and a hundred or so books.
In the movie, "Up In The Air", George Clooney's character makes a long speech about how everything you own should fit into a knapsack. That stuck in my mind because I can't imagine be that un-rooted but also because I knew he was right. We get buried under stuff and become paralyzed by what to do with it when we want to leave it.
It's sad, a little bit, that stuff holds me back from adventure even though it's living stuff like pets and chickens. I'm sure an unwavering commitment to stuff holds most people back from experiencing more than just their block, that resort, the cottage, the mall. My neighbours, singer/songerwriters Dale Murray and Christina Martin, are spending ten months in Europe. They lock the door of their house behind them and go. Okay, I've heard they have a housesitter but still... I make sure I look at every single photo they post from their travels in Germany and Switzerland.
During university, I remember my mother and I talking about going to Scotland as soon as I'd graduated but the idea didn't stick. Instead, I went to England with my father ten years later, shortly after he'd been diagnosed with dementia, because he'd been diagnosed; that was my first trip overseas. But it was celebrating my 40th birthday in Scotland that gave me this large, swollen, festering bug bite for travel.
And not just because I had found the perfect traveling companion. There's this pull to experience more.
It's interesting that I never craved adventure till, would never have been brave enough to pick any old spot on the globe when I was 25 or 35. I honestly think this temptation stems from two things: The enjoyment and satisfaction I get from the "In Conversation With..." interviews I do for the newspaper, and the fact I've moved very five or six years throughout my life. So many interesting people out there, so many interesting stories to discover.
Plus, I know that book publishers would eat this kind of memoir up! Dare I insist to my husband that we try -- Oh, wait. No one is actually offering three million dollars, are they?
David? David? You could be my patron. I'd dedicate the book to you, cousin.

Paddling down the River Tay, Scotland, May 2010.

Birthday lunch in a sheep pasture with our guide, Biscuit.


  1. We were not offered millions to do it but at 24 we packed up and with a twenty month old son left the country of our birth and crossed the ocean to a new life. How did we pick were we where going to. Opened the atlas closed our eyes and went to the place that came up. Red Deer Alberta.

  2. I think you were lucky, then! Thanks for the comment.
    And I do realize so many people have to leave their home and move to a strange place. Those stories are the best -- the most inspiring, most moving.