On following the way with a family.
Travel with a baby is fun —
Traveling with an infant means seeing the world as new again. When my view upon the world becomes glazed over with lenses that bark “been here, done that,” when my eyes become opaqued by experience to what lays before me, all I have to do is look at my little daughter, and the world becomes crisp and clear again. As I now look at my little daughter gazing upon places, people, and things for the first time — as I observe the first glimmers of curiosity in her contenence — I, too, am able to look at this planet anew.
Sunday, November 1, 2009
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And, yes, I can admit once again that this world is a pretty neat place.
Traveling with an infant is like traveling for the first time.
I remember when I first left my family’s home in the summer of ’99. I was traveling across the mid-west and east of the USA with a band playing music. This trip blew my mind.
I still remember how sharp my emotive responses were towards what I was experiencing — I still remember the fields of oil refineries outside of Gary, Indiana belching flames into the night, I remember with great clarity the new car parks that stretched for dozens of miles in every direction in Illinois, I can still hear the voices of friends in the UP as they yelled and screamed drunkenly into the night, and I will never forget the back country brothel that we haphazardly ended up playing in Connecticut.
I think in all my band only got paid $15, free accommodation on a trampoline in a backyard, and a falafel sandwich, but these memories remain as some of the most valuable possessions that I have ever acquired.
I remember the clarity, the cleanness, of my perception during these first travels: everything was new and fresh, and exciting. I feel this same sort of excitement as I walk through the streets of a new place with my new daughter.
Traveling with a baby is fun.
The family and I traveled up from Payson in the Tonto Forest to Flagstaff for the weekend. It just happened that we were in the city for Halloween. Three month old Petra has no idea what Halloween is — or what the hell anything is for that matter — but Chaya and I had fun dressing her up in costume anyway.
Sometimes Halloween is as more for adults than children.
We found a lobster costume that was designed to be worn by a dog at Target, but it fit the bill. Lobsters come from Maine, and, yes, Petra comes from Maine as well. So little Petra was stuffed into a plush lobster carcass and we headed off into the Flagstaff streets just to show her off.
I think my daughter is cute, and, by damn, I want other people to tell me so.
Lobster suited Petra obtained the desired chorus of, “Oh how cute,” that her parents were looking for. We even looked at the other little kids in costume and declared that they were in no way as cute as our own offspring . . . just as every other parent was probably thinking the same about theirs.
Perhaps parents are nothing if not brimming over with condescension over their own children. (Much to the dismay of anyone in familiar proximity — there are perhaps few things in the world more annoying than parents who think their children are wonderful beyond words — worry not, readers, I will try to spare you this carnage). Perhaps this is just how we have been programed by a million years of evolution . . . for how else could we bear the rigors of child rearing without the ingrained knowledge that we are raising something exceptional that should receive the paltry rewards of superficial compliments?
Chaya and I took our rewards with gusto.
Halloween blew Petra’s mind. Flagstaff was brimming over with sights and sounds and people in costume. It was crowded. It was stimulating. We watched a Halloween costume contest. I laughed when a 2 year old boy dressed all out as Gene Simmons walked across the stage and flashed the “goats” — index finger and pinky in the air — to the crowd. I laughed harder when the MC asked him to do it again and only his middle finger rose in response.
Though this landscape proved to be a little overstimulating on Petra. It was not quite the stimulation of walking down the street in Calcutta, but it was a little much for Petra. And as Chaya and I mistakenly walked too close to a passing train, which suddenly blew its ear shattering whistle as it passed by us, Petra let us know that it was time to go home.
She began bawling. Halloween had blown her mind, and this was enough Halloween for her.
Back at the hotel room, I carved out a pumpkin. I carved a lobster into it, of course. Lobsters come from Maine and Petra comes from Maine, too.
I dropped a couple of candles into the pumpkin and the lobster shone bright. There, in a hotel room with the lights turned off, my wife, daughter, and I sat on the floor and stared into the light of glowing lobster pumpkin. All was quiet. Petra giggled as she stared into the light.
Chaya and I smiled too. If it were not for little Petra our Halloween would have passed like any other day into the wind.
I am happy that Chaya and Petra are back with me. I am happy that we are traveling together. I am happy to be in Arizona. I am happy — and surprised — that I proved to have the wisdom to not run away from this new journey that is already proving itself to be vastly more challenging and rewarding that any path I have yet walked.
Vagabond Journey series on traveling with a baby
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