A Million Miles Away
By Chad R. Mitchell
“To travel is to live.” H.C. Anderson
There was a time when a man would leave his home, set out on the sea for months at a time, and leave loved ones waiting behind. He would shoulder his rucksack, pull his pea coat tight about him and stare longingly at the shore as it retreated from sight. If he were a family man there would be a lady watching him as he left, a handkerchief waving in the wind, and perhaps a baby at her hip. The last thing he would see before the fog closed in was the sight of his wife’s loving eyes, misting up with tears as she disappeared from view.
The world is very different today. There are many people still travelling, on business, away from family, and even more frequently. They even have to travel for extended periods of time, and over even greater distances. But thanks to the engineering and technological marvels of our time it doesn’t have to feel so distant.
Or so we are told.
The nice part of being told that I had to travel to England on business is that it was a free trip to somewhere I hadn’t been. It was an all expenses sojourn into the land of legend. I have read many a fine book that has been written in ye country of old, and I was semi-excited to take the journey.
Even though it was away from Jen and Zoë, for two weeks, and only a month before we plan to move abroad for good. And it was the middle of winter.
I am not a fan of the cold.
So it was that I set out from my darling ladies, feeling underprepared, both in mind and luggage, and traveled to the UK. I didn’t even bring a heavy coat, assuming that I would encounter similar weather to the bay area in almost March. (I was wrong, more on that later.)
Jenny drove me to the bus stop where I was to meet up with my coworker, and we said our goodbyes. Those are never easy, and I was reminded of how my mother says she will feel when we leave upon our bigger journey. It wasn’t easy. But I put on a good face, kissed her goodbye, and watched the car disappear from view as I boarded the shuttle. I was quickly distracted, or attempted to forget, the heaviness in my heart as I “manned up” and discussed the flight with my counterpart. He was also feeling the effects of the leaving, he has two kids and a wife, and we commiserated as men do: vaguely and with machismo.
The rest of the trip to Britain was uneventful. I plan to write a less sappy account of the journey and the trip once it is through. But in the meantime I have to say that leaving from the loved ones is harder than I even imagined it would be…
I have left before.
Sure, I have left on business before, for a few days or a week. To less interesting places, with far less to do… And I brought my utensils. Those gadgets that keep us connected. The iPad, iPhone, Macbook Pro… (I am an Apple sell out) and steady Wi-Fi is never far from where I roam. In fact I have been able to make video calls, almost every night, and see my darling daughter, and beautiful wife, in stunning hi-def detail. It does help, to see them, to hear them. My daughter even gives me virtual kisses to the camera. It is the cutest thing I have ever seen. But it’s never quite the same. It’s funny how distant yet close they can appear.
But it gets me through the journey.
Jenny has been busy. A steward of the houses affairs. She has been busy packing, sorting out the house, preparing the necessary details for our eventual departure. And here am I, sitting in a hotel room, eating a meal, and resting after a long day. But I am away. Not quite able to help. I do what I can, and try what I must, but at the end of it all Jenny is doing the heavy lifting. And this makes it even harder to be away.
Soon it will be different.
I am glad I am in my final stretch. The trip only has four more days left to go, and I am more than ready to return. I feel like this is a hold-up, a delay in our journey. But I am thankful to have a wife and daughter to have and to hold on the return. It makes my heart leap to think of holding them tight once again.
I can only imagine what those men and women felt, as they departed on long trips, into the bitter sea, and without the easy return. We are so fortunate to have it so much easier, even though it’s still hard. For even though it is difficult to leave, we are so very blessed, for in only a few short hours, much less than a day, we can return. I have always envied those early days of exploration and adventure. But to leave without a guarantee of return, must have been tragic. And I for one am thankful for the blessings of today.
“[It is] as [when] a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch.” Mark 13:34
Note: Review of a well-designed toiletry bag coming soon! Also stay tuned for a 24-hour guide to London!