A few weeks ago, my best friend and I spent a lackluster Saturday night tucked into a corner of a wine bar, discussing what was to come in the new year, who we wanted to meet, the better people we wanted to be, and mostly, where we might travel this year. Approaching our second year of living here and the third of the pandemic, we learned that our plans had no guarantees, but it was fun to discuss anyway. Over the next week, I sprung into action, researching and charting with my usual vigor. The anticipation that trips bring is truly a joy and dammit, I was scheduling it into 2022, even if we were in semi lock down and there was not much else going on at the moment.
With Airbnb’s sorted for the long Easter weekend, and ideas swirling for other trips, everything came to a surprise pause just five days later. Instead of calling my friend to say I’d found the travel deal of the century and would she pay a whole lot of money for just one night…pretty please…. I was calling her to tell her I had cancer. How truly, strange! Life, work, planning came to a screeching halt as I tackled all of the new appointments and tasks that come with such a time. My body shepherded around Geneva and the neighboring canton, blindly doing whatever my new team of doctors directed, 2022 planning felt like it was undergoing yet another travel ban.
Yet, even if you aren’t actually travelling, the anticipation is nearly as good of the journey and certainly counts for an escape. During a particularly invasive and painful biopsy the day following my diagnosis, I escaped to the beach vacation my ex promises when this is all over. I’m literally on that beach, celebrating, and doing all the fun things. I see it. I can feel the sun.
Leaving that biopsy and knowing at least 18 weeks (Fridays, no less!) of chemo were in my future, I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out where I might immediately visit for an emergency last minute trip…affordably, in Switzerland…during high ski season…and with 18 hours’ notice. While nothing here is ever really a deal, I just cashed in far too many points and made it happen. I was going to see Zermatt before this all kicked off. The Swiss-est item still on my Swiss list.
And the next morning, to Zermatt we went. With no plans, no sporty equipment. Just to see, and be, and unbeknownst to me, have really meaningful talks and plans that I’ll cherish for a long time, as well as a last minute detox massage where I demanded the cancer go “out, out, out” for an hour. Could you have these same moments on a Saturday afternoon eating pizza in your living room with the same friend? Probably… But, something about tying memories to a place and time resonates so well with me.
So, the Cinque Terre hiking trip is cancelled for April. I’ve waited twelve years for this, so I can wait a few more months. But, I’m refusing to let 2022 be a complete travel pause. While I will put my body and her needs first this year (and forever, going forward), I won’t, I literally cannot, cut out the healing power that travel and planning travel brings. So, adventures noted here may not be as frequent as the past, but they will be all the more deliberately intentioned and meaningful this year.