Hi. My name is Amy Curtis-McIntyre (say it out loud, there's something about it that makes that people say it really fast and then use their entire name, especially on voice mail, i.e., "Hi Amy Curtis-McIntyre, this is Ralph Waldo Jouquin Emerson....")
Anyway, I am a mother and a wife and a marketing executive on hiatus who really only ever wanted to write and tell stories. Big yawn, right? EXCEPT for one thing! Instead of launching another another hottie/burnt-out/"I am not like the other moms"/jewelry-party-hosting/volunteer-a-holic/"I used to have a real job, really" mommy blog, I decided to run from cliché, run from reality and run from getting another job and take the family around the world for a few months.
Fueled by a 5th anniversary cancer free, a fading command of 5th-grade math, millions of hard-earned airline miles and the realization that my pre-teen sons might only like me for another year or so, I decided that now is the now in now or never. And so, this modern day Swiss Family Robinson will set off with almost nothing.
Nothing except a couple of American Express Platinum cards. And business class flights. And hotel reservations. And an iPad. And 2 iPhones. And an Airbook. And a Kindle Fire. And a sense of wonder. And a bottle of Xanax.
This is the beginning of that story.
Get Drunk, Pack, Close Luggage, Enjoy Surprises!
Today my husband Jim, our two sons (Cole, 10 and James, 7) and I set off for our trip around (much of) the world for about 4 1/2 months. We start our international journey from Dallas, which I find ironic as I don't really like or understand Texas, but Dallas was the airport from which we could secure Business Class seats to Sydney using a bazillion road warrior, I-have-the-marketing-conference-scars-to-prove-it-miles.
Ironic too, as we have decided to check out of America (by the way, I love America) for a while so why not leave from the America-iest of all America cities?
Packing was interesting. Self-elected family travel leader (and wearer of only khaki shorts and pants, golf shirts and smart shoes), Jim issued one wheelie bag suitcase and a backpack to each of us. Certainly adequate for small boys who also tend to wear neutral, easy fabrics and comfortable waterproof small shoes. I am no clothes horse, but it was a little tough planning into an outdoorsy trip in many climates with the hopes of a couple of glam nights in Asia restaurants or cool beach environs.
After two failed attempts to pack smart, I lapsed into one of my best travel secret behaviors: get drunk, pack, close luggage and enjoy the rest of the evening and the inevitable surprises ahead when unpacking. Recently, I unpacked to discover jeans, sweats, a skirt and leggings, no underwear, 1 hard-to-wear top and a dress that hasn't fit in a year. I had plenty o'sox and a faux fur scarf but no extra shoes, pajamas or swim wear. Worth the laugh at Target later where I am often buying the cheapest replacements possible.
One time I had to buy a bathing suit in Acapulco and went to the Wal-Mart there -- it was the first Wal-Mart in which I had ever been and I wound up buying a bathing suit, tequila, Internet time, phone cards, Pizza Hut pizza, pool toys, People en Espanol and a Manchester United baseball hat -- I had no idea what they sold.
I Love How Much People Hate To Fly
I love to travel. I love to travel so much that I don't even care how awful many flights and their ground experiences may be -- a necessary evil for the destination, the event, the holiday, the story. I love travel so much that I get off delayed flights, exhausted and dehydrated, self-righteous and militant ("I'll show you, you big mean carrier, I will never fly you again") and get right back on line the next day to book another trip.
I love the anticipation. I love the uncertainty. I love the adventure and sometimes the luxury. Or the roughing it or survival in figuring something new out. I love watching people all over the world trying to figure it all out. And most of all, I love the comedy of it all. There is a ridiculousness in constantly moving around with your loved ones and your stuff and believing it was going to be easy and then being caught off guard by how hard it can be. But it's worth it to me. I travel because I can. Because I have to. I think it is my muse. Ewww. Gross. Did I really write that?
One of the things I love the most about travel is how much most people hate flying. Flying brings out the worst in people but for me, it is a time to shine. I like to board business flights and say hi to every grumpy 6 am face: "Good morning, good morning sir...isn't this exciting? Ooooh, I love the middle seat -- means TWO new friends."
I like to ask the flight attendants if this whole soda is really for me? Free? I like to hate the people who have to fly with their own pillows. Or teenagers on a family vacation who have to sleep in the airport before take off. I like to watch people pound their bags into the overhead..."It always fits! Must be this airplane!" I like the nonsense of some of the rules and safety announcements.
This is a non-smoking flight, really? I thought it was 1977 and I could light up anywhere. But my favorite is this line from the safety announcements: "And remember, NEVER inflate your life vest while inside the cabin." What? Are you kidding? The plane is making a crash landing in water. I have found the life vest and I am near an exit. I'm inflating the vest.
So we leave in an hour. Kind of seems appropriate and funny that we are leaving the USA after a full day in Texas that included counting highway side Churches, gun dealers, fast food chains and day care centers. And buffets. We drove 90 minutes outside of town to a safari where the animals can walk up and hit or peck your car, as one angry turkey did.
I don't know why we are bothering to go to Africa now but, whatever. I bet there aren't any giraffes in Kenya that have Cowboys tattoos.