Your pulse races, your heart thumps, you fear you just might burst out of your skin in excitement. After all, you’ve just scored a huge deal on airplane tickets to a place you’ve always wanted to visit. It’s that first blush of new love when everything seems possible.
Until a bitter dose of reality.
I have just purchased plane tickets to Montreal, an enticing and lethal mix of Old World Europe and New World energy, full of cobblestone streets, historic architecture, remnants of our colonial past, vibrant immigrant communities, bustling cafes, and endless bike trails through lush parks. One of the continent’s oldest cities where the mother tongue is French and only one hour ahead of where I currently live, I have always yearned to dive into Montreal.
And now – finally! – my plane tickets are in hand. I will see, smell, touch, hear, and taste it all! After all, I have a full week, right? And Quebec City, just as historic and fascinating, is only a three-hour train ride away, right? And how about that monastery just outside the city? And the mountains beckoning my hibernating hiking boots? And….
Wait. Stop. Breathe.
Did I forget my new paradigm?
Sometimes, in the rushing initial excitement of planning a new trip, I actually forget the ruling truth of my life.
I have fibromyalgia. I cannot possibly see and do everything in such a short trip. I would flare out and be stuck in bed 24 hours into my vacation. I must pace myself and take time to absorb the world around me as my body catches up with my heart.
Did I not just vow to accept my new travel paradigm? To slow down, savor and really get to know the community before me, not just race through in a superficial skimming of must-see sites? I want to walk, shop, cook, smell, and live where my feet trod, meeting local people and observing everything through their eyes.
And so I toss my ever-growing list of sightseeing out and start over.
Scratch anywhere I cannot reach without a car. After all, I don’t drive.
Scratch Quebec City. In a rushed itinerary, I will only be able to see the city in one day, and such a storied, historic city as Quebec deserves so much more. I must remember I cannot possibly see and do it all in one trip. I will be back. Quebec City will have to wait for another time when I can focus solely on her.
No, this trip will be all about Montreal herself. One street, one cafe, one neighborhood at a time. My goal is to breathe her in, slowly and luxuriously until I am so intoxicated, I forget my “must-see” list, forget about checking off sites like chores, and allow myself to be absorbed, wholly and completely, by the city’s spirit.
Maybe there’s a silver lining to fibromyalgia after all.