Every time someone moves away I wonder if I’ll ever see them again. It didn’t used to be that way.
I used to travel a lot. If I was home for a month, I got antsy. If I was home for 2 months I
intentionally made plans to get away. Sometimes getting away was a short overnight somewhere nearby and sometimes it was a bigger trip. Twice each year I visited my grandparents in New York. Twice each year I visited my other grandparents in Florida. Once each year I took a week-long vacation for myself. I visited friends. I spent many lovely summer and autumn weekends in Maine every year. And to me, that was normal.
Sure, it was tiring. But it was manageable. I could always rest the next weekend, right? And money wasn’t an issue. I was working then, and most of my trips were really cheap. My grandparents paid for my flights to Florida. I stayed with family and friends almost everyplace I went. I probably spent $500-$1000 on travel each year and loved it all.
But that was then. This is now.
Now I can’t imagine getting on a plane. I used to fly 3-5 times per year (including business trips) and now I haven’t been on a plane in over 5 years, since January 2011. No matter how I think about it, the idea of flying seems impossible. Maybe, maybe I could manage it if I flew business class. But there’s the money issue, too. I’m not working. $500 is just too much to spend on a plane ticket for a coach seat, never mind the added expense of a business class ticket.
Local trips are also hard. I still visit friends sometimes, but only the closer ones. Even visiting my friends and family in NY feels too difficult. I can’t drive that far anymore (only 4 hours from here.) I want to take the train, but it’s not cheap. And what would I do when I got there? The subway stations all have way too many stairs. It’s a walking city. How could I manage it? Not to mention, if I took the train I wouldn’t be able to bring a lot of food with
me, and that makes me nervous. I’d have to cook in a non-gluten-free kitchen! And with all of the travel, I don’t think I’d have the energy to do much once I got there. It would even be hard to get between friends in Brooklyn and friends in Manhattan. If I’d feel so miserable and could do so little, what’s the point in going? And that’s just a short trip to NY. That’s why I haven’t been down there in 2 years, even though one of my closest friends lives there. It’s why I didn’t visit my grandfather in the last year of his life. Thankfully, we had many fantastic visits in all the years before that. (My other grandparents are no longer alive, either.)
I used to love those trips to Maine. My guess is that I could still manage those. It’s a shorter drive and I could bring food in the car. But the house I stayed at was sold and I don’t have free accommodations anymore.
I do still visit friends who are fairly close, but not as often as I’d like. And that’s it. Mostly, I stay in town. I don’t get antsy. I’m too fatigued and full of pain to be antsy about it. Still…. I miss travel. I miss exploring. I miss the new sights. I miss the new cultures. I miss the adventure.
And mostly, I miss my friends.
It hit me again today. A friend, who also has chronic illness, is moving back to her hometown in England. Will I ever see her again? She said I should come visit her and have a nice long stay. I’ve never been to northern England and would love to see it. But could I manage the flight? I don’t know that I could. It’s a sweet offer. I’d love to go. But…
Coincidentally, in less than 24 hours a friend will be here. I haven’t seen him in years. We used to visit each other every couple of years, with me going to him more often because I used to live in that city and I still have many friends there. In fact, that last flight I took in January 2011 was to visit him and those other friends. I miss them all. Lucky for me, he’s coming to visit. But the others, for various reasons, haven’t visited. They keep telling me they’d like me to visit. I try to explain that I can’t, but they just don’t understand. I know they mean well, but their invitations are painful. I want to visit. I’d love to! But I can’t. Not without doing damage to myself.
I’d like to think that I’ll travel again some day. It might not be the same kind of travel that I used to do, but just quiet trips to visit friends would be lovely. I know that other people with chronic illness can do it. Then again, other people with chronic illness can work. They can climb mountains. They can eat whatever they want. We’re all different, and that’s the point. I can do things that others can’t and others can do things that I can’t.
I just wish I could visit my friends.
What about you? Do you travel? How do you manage it? What kinds of accommodations do you use to help with your symptoms? If you have fatigue also, I’d especially love to know how you handle that!