(Dedicated to Irene)
When I was pregnant, most of our friends with kids told me and my husband that we would never travel again. Or, if we dared to go someplace interesting, it would certainly be no fun at all. These naysayers inadvertently planted a seed of rebellion in me, which not only inspired me to book flights to a wedding in England that was five weeks after my delivery date, but, I believe, was the driving force behind my accepting the job as the travel editor of the then unborn magazine for parents called Cookie when my daughter Clara was not even two. And guess what? We had a blast at the wedding—leaky boobs, colicky baby, and all. So, we traveled as much as we could during my leave, and we had a great time wherever we went. Except for that one time when Clara threw up and pooped on me at the beginning of an 8-hour flight, the duration of which I had to wear a windbreaker with nothing underneath. Then there was the four-hour flight to Denver when she never stopped crying. Not. For. One. Second. But we kept booking our flights, and pretty soon, when Clara was old enough to talk, she would say things like “When are we going to London again?”
While the contents of our travel bag have changed over the years, there was one little book we carried with us for a long time. When Clara was around four-months-old, right when I came back to my job as a photo editor at W, I made a little book of animal pictures for her. Whenever I tore through magazines, or found cool pictures of animals on a website, I would print them out, and tape them in a blank book. This was our travel book, and it served us very well. Clara would pour over every page, a ritual that got us through at least a handful of long plane flights. At some point, Clara threw the book on to the airplane floor, and we moved on to the next thing. I’m reminded of this now because my sister-in-law, who is a die-hard traveler like me (and a mighty fine editor at Travel + Leisure), happens to be in labor at this very moment. In honor of Irene, and for those new parents who love to travel, I say, don’t listen to what anyone says–not even me. And you can borrow our book anytime.
This project also inspired an obsession with animal books, most of them used. I have collected these over the years from various garage sales, flea markets, and Salvation Army stores.
P.S. Poppy Lucia was born at 4:49 this morning, and everyone is healthy, happy, and exhausted.