Adventures of youth last a lifetime
What has happened to my sense of adventure? I used to pursue my travels with vigor — traveling to far off places to learn and experience new things.
In my 20s, I joined my husband in Heidelberg, Germany, where he was serving in the Army. I worked for Army intelligence at the U.S. Army Europe headquarters. We both worked in offices on the same site and were able to meet for lunch at local restaurants to enjoy culinary delights like steak fondue and white asparagus.
When on leave, we traveled to England, France, Italy, Holland and many other countries, exploring museums and cathedrals — even a salt mine — and observing people as we sat at sidewalk cafes. It was the early '60s, and we experienced the ebb and flow of history.
I remember sitting in a café in Italy when we learned that Pope John XXII was dying. Everyone in the café left immediately to go to Vatican City to await news and watch for smoke signals. We watched as the Berlin Wall emerged, cement layering over windows catching billowing curtains. I had a Top Secret clearance and worked on war plans for the Vietnam War, which was then labeled a "conflict."
The most significant event that happened at that time was the assassination of President Kennedy. We didn't have a television, but our German neighbors came by with news and condolences. President Kennedy was well regarded in Germany, and the neighbors mourned with us. After nearly three years in Europe, we returned to the states with a 1-year-old baby and a brand new Volkswagen Beetle.
Years later, my sense of adventure was still alive and well. A dean of students at a private school I accompanied a group of more than a dozen teenagers to Greece and later took another group to Egypt. I still recall exploring the pyramids and chasing after a wayward camel one of my students was riding. When my three sons grew older, I took many trips throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Even after my divorce, I ventured to Hawaii and took a cruise to Mexico on my own.
So why am I now so uninspired to leave my home in Lake Oswego? Is it because the world seems to be a more complicated and dangerous place? Perhaps. But this was also true in the past. Does getting older mean than I am becoming more timid? I know that my night driving skills are deteriorating. Perhaps it is just a passing phase.
I may wake up tomorrow anxious to hit the California beaches again or take that tempting cruise to Alaska.
I never went to Sweden, Denmark or Norway. That would be fun! Oh, well, for now, this poem of mine expresses my current frame of mind:
I'd like to go where the curve of the road meets the horizon
There around that distant mountain
But first I must line up my shoes in the closet,
Brush my hair a hundred times,
And sit here by the fire,
Warmth around my shoulders,
Watching the fine lines on the hand
That holds the porcelain teacup
Painted with roses
That my mother gave to me.
Jacquelyn Gatewood is a member of the Jottings group of the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center.