Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Importance of Now

I have been very angry at my wedding lately. In between all the genuine excitement about crafting a wedding (and wedding team) that feels right and all the worthwhile conversations we're working through together, has been a serious undercurrent of resentment. Because damn you wedding, you're stealing all my time, spare energy and money.

I'm the first person to admit that this process of wedding and marriage planning has been both enjoyable and enlightening, in surprising ways. But I've been equally surprised by the real frustrations of this process, and the ways in which this Big Important Conversations and the Big Important Goals have been limiting my enjoyment of the here-and-now. I can't spend that: I'm saving for the wedding. I don't need a big vacation this summer: we're taking a honeymoon in a year. We can't take a week off this summer: we need all our precious (and limited) vacation days for the wedding and honeymoon.

But you know what? I'm burnt out. I'm tired of 10 hour work days (minimally) and relentless deadlines. I'm tired of wedding planning. And, more importantly, I'm tired of waiting. Waiting until the wedding to have money again. Waiting until after the wedding to travel internationally. Waiting and worrying and counting pennies.

We had grand plans to take a trip to Guatemala this past winter. When Jason lost his job (and found another) and I got sick, we both lost access to the vacation days we would have needed for a week-long vacation. And with the job loss, fear crept in, and we both felt too shaky to make any plans that required large expenditures. The sensible what-ifs took hold, and I cut back my expenses to the bone, worried about emergency funds, wedding budgets, retirement planning, and future children's college funds as my concept of job security and secure healthcare crumbled around me.  The trip fell by the wayside and we went to San Fransicso for a long weekend instead.

While you'll never hear me complain about a weekend in San Francisco, as we started planing for another sensible domestic mini-break this summer, a part of me finally revolted. The part of me that spent childhood summers in Scotland with my mother's family, that studied abroad in Kenya, that worked for two years in Madrid and who used to spend every spare penny on crazy last minute trips to far off places finally grabbed me by the shoulders to talk some sense into the sensible. A different set of what-ifs started to take hold. What if the honeymoon is our last chance at unencumbered (ie childfree) international travel before my biological clock explodes? What if we miss our chance to wander the back streets of a foreign capital, intoxicated with wine and adventure? What if we miss our chance to be stupid and young and travel the backroads in a chicken bus and sleep in a $3 hostel in South America (that's not a steroetyped vision of South America, it's an actual trip a girlfriend took.) What if we miss our chance to hit the European countries I haven't seen yet - primarily in the North - because plane tickets and lodging for a family would be just too exorbitant whereas for two we could manage?

I'm tired of dreams deferred. I'm tired of waiting until after the wedding. I nearly have a year to go before we get married, so eff this waiting for life to begin again. We're taking a trip this year. It's somewhat silly (though not disastrous) from a long-term financial standpoint, but I don't care. I can't care and I won't care. I need to see something amazing today, to squeeze every last bit of single-and-healthy life that we can before kids arrive. I'm turning 30 in a few weeks. We want babies before I'm 35. Once those babies arrive, we're looking forward to years of frugal camping and hosteling vacations within a drivable distance. Which is great, but I want something else now. While we can. And I need something to look forward to that doesn't involve pretty dresses and Important Emotional Conversations. I just need to be me and I need us to actually live our life-dreams instead of daydreaming about them and waiting until after the wedding for everything to begin again. I need it now. Not next year, but now.

So, if anyone has any semi-affordable, week-long, international vacation ideas that don't steal more than 8 hours (ish) of flight time from LA, I'm all ears. Help us out here. Because for our honeymoon, we're going to Guatemala but for this summer (and the Guatemalan rainy season) we need help.

42 comments:

  1. I totally feel your wander lust. In fact, I was just searching for last minute deals las night. Do you need to leave the US? Hawaii is a 5 hour flight. Canada is a 4 hour flight. There is always Mexico. Or Puerto Rico. Or Alaska. Alaska would be an adventure. Or Peru. I want to see Peru.

    You are definitely singing my tune this morning.

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  2. GO! GO NOW! The money stuff will figure itself out.

    And may I suggest TravelZoo? They have some crazy deals on there. CRAZY. And once you get somewhere, try AirBnB - always an adventure, and a way to meet new people!

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  3. Panama! Go to the resort Mrs. Peep Toe from weddingbee went to - you sleep in huts over the water and it's eco-friendly and very cool!!!! Plus flights are cheap!

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  4. This is on the seriously iffy side of "international," but my fiance and I took a road trip up to Quebec City and Montreal last summer - we couldn't afford to fly anywhere and had to scrap a European trip we planned.

    It was the best trip of our lives (and we have been a lot of "cool" places)! Quebec City in particular was romantic, with amazingly delicious French charm. We originally thought of it as kind of a "throw-away" trip but we got so much out of it andI wouldn't trade it for anything.

    I completely understand what you're feeling right now and I'm sending positive thoughts your way.

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  5. I know I am a broken record about this but NICARAGUA, woman! It is like a cheaper less touristy Costa Rica. Super eco-friendly, beautiful lakes and beaches and volcanoes, monkeys and coffee and best country ever. Nicaragua.

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  6. This is one big reason why I had NO interest in a long engagement. When you only have four or five months to get everything done, you don't get sick of it. It's not a date far off on the horizon, it's what's happening next, and after that, you're free to plan whatever you want. I know this doesn't work for everyone, but I am so glad not to be burnt out on weddings a year before I even get to enjoy mine...

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  7. Oh PS if you were to come to Montreal you would be totally welcome to stay with us!

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  8. Yay! I've kinda reached the same point, but luckily I only have 4 more months to go! I think if our engagement was any longer we'd have to elope (in one of those 5 states) or do the exact same thing you're doing. It's a total cliche but Life really is too short! :)

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  9. I live in Montréal and soon will be moving to Québec City. Both are fun. To me, Québec feels more old-world European. In fact, I have heard movies are often filmed there, if they are supposed to take place in France. Cobbled streets, etc...

    Since you mentioned Northern European: Norway is beautiful...but not cheap. :( But it is my favorite place in the world (I used to live there), and May and September are good months to visit. Could be less expensive if you stayed in camping-esque cabins (hytte) in the middle of nowhere for part of the time and went hiking...

    I can relate on the desire to travel and not really having funds to do it. I just booked a ticket to go meet up with my husband on a work trip to Naples. He is working there and has a week vacation with a paid-for hotel room, so we are taking advantage of that. :) And the hotel is way out of our price range (we would be in the hostel price-range) so it is an amazing deal. (Despite the otherwise non-ideal timing and cost.) Keep us posted on what you guys decide! I hope you find an awesome deal to some intriguing place...

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  10. Yep I feel ya, My fiance thinks I turned into a crazy person and booked a cruise to relax me. I promptly took over vacation planning..AWESOME! I second Nicaragua. My friend spent a year there and can't stop singing its praises...AND its super cheap. They stayed here, its not glamorous but its remote: http://www.littlemorgans.com/facilities

    Good luck!

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  11. Come to Napa for a long weekend this summer Becca ;) You can witness the culmination of someone else's stress instead of your own.

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  12. I am here. I AM HERE. I don't want to spend every discretionary penny for the next year on wedding stuff. I have wanderlust like no one would believe, and given the fact that we've only paid for our venue so far, I am constantly tempted to ditch the big wedding and blow cash on one (or two! or three, even!) trips to take in some of the world. I go through phases, and I am currently on a trip-taking phase.

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  13. @Sarah- Puerto Rico is on our list of possibilities. Do you know anything much about it?

    Sara C - I have all the last minute deal sites bookmarked! I think we want to narrow in on options, but we might throw caution to the wind and just see what they have available. I've done crazier traveling before...

    @Ellie - I'll check it out, thanks. Though I'm usually an off-the-beaten path girl, but I'd never considered Panama.

    @Montreal/Quebec City folks - I LOVE both those cities, but traveled there in college, so we really want something new for now. So that also excludes te Vancouver bit of Canada. But for anyone else in need of a vacation idea, I agree it's an excellent option!

    @accordionsandlace and Meg K - doh! of course! I'll email J the honeymoon posts from A and the link to the littlemorgans and see what he thinks... yes...

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  14. @Rowena - for so many reasons, a short engagement wasn't in the cards. I have moments of tearing my hair out about it, but I know it still makes sense for us and there's nothing we could have done differently without some real issues of a different sort!

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  15. FUCKING RIGHT! I'm the one who's always saying, 'well, do we need to do this?' or 'We don't know where we're living in three months, and we might not both get work right away, and remember what happened last summer and how long it took for us to get things settled and what if we need that money?' And that's all right and well and good . . . but sometimes all of the logical and rational arguments need a good ol' fuck off.

    It's strange, isn't it? We think of marriage as this kind of waiting for the rest of our lives to begin when we're supposed to be IN it, IN our lives right now, with our partners! Because we plan weddings, part of the waiting bit is often necessary for the planning of the wedding, but . . . but BAH. You shouldn't have to wait, and if you can manage it, by all means, get the hell out of Dodge.

    And post pictures.

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  16. EXACTLY - I don't even feel like I need to add anything to what you said because you captured so much of my wedding-anger right there!

    We still regret the cuba trip we didn't take because the what-ifs set in - this was well before the engagement but still serves as a reminder to just do things when you have the chance and it is reasonable, if not entirely sensible.

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  17. "A different set of what-ifs started to take hold. What if the honeymoon is our last chance at unencumbered (ie childfree) international travel before my biological clock explodes? What if we miss our chance to wander the back streets of a foreign capital, intoxicated with wine and adventure?:

    It won't be. IT WON'T BE. Somehow that is the cultural message, but if you don't want it to be true, it's not going to be true. I was looking down at my to-do list (personal, lets not even discuss my profession to-do list, dear lord) yesterday and it had stuff like, "Buy retro swimsuit, by sunglasses" etc, for our summer. And I thought about what my g-d to do list looked like this time last year....

    .... and realized what TOTAL CRAP the idea that the wedding is the end of the good life is. Or that everything changes and goes down hill after, because the weddding is the peak. TOTAL CRAP.

    I'll take this summers to-do list over last summers to-do list any day of the week and twice on Sundays.

    Seriously. It gets better. Not worse. You're going through the birth right now and labor sucks. But after labor? You get a lifetime.

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  18. @Meg - I'm not really speaking to all the other changes that come (or don't come) with marriage and, specifically, children. I'm talking about travel, and the way in which I love it now, which is best experienced childfree. I know I'll love traveling with our kids too, but it will be different. And we haven't had enough time yet for traveling with just us.

    I know the honeymoon isn't necessarily our last chance, but I do know childfree travel opportunities are really limited for us. (Three or four years, max.) Having grown up with long US road trips and camping and frugal European vacations, I know how great kid-travel can be. But it's still different than couple-travel. And I want every piece of couple travel now, because travel has always been a personal priority (which has been recently constrained due to finances, the wedding, and a host of other issues).

    As for the rest of the "wedding is the beginning of the end" nonsense, I'm with you. I can only agree that life has gotten better with J and better with the depth of our commitment. Our life priorities are shifting because *we're* growing up and shifting, but it's not the end of anything. I resent those implications too. But we are nearing the end of our childfree years, and I want to make sure I don't regret the what-ifs associated with taking advantage of this particular time. I won't be able to hit every trip on my list or accomplish every pre-child goal, but I just want to make sure I'm actively reaching for them all so I'm not left with the what-ifs of regret.

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  19. cozumel mexico can be ridiculously cheap and fun.

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  20. I nodded along to this whole post because I went through the same thing a couple months ago. Juggling wanderlust, wedding, and the realities of being a 30 something that is starting a family in the near future. People keep asking me if I'm excited with the wedding being so close, and while I AM, a little part of me is 100x more excited about nearly 3 weeks in Australia. Go enjoy a trip! Things will work out. And if you haven't completely ruled out Hawaii, may I suggest hiking and camping the Napali Coast (Kauai)? So beautiful. Also the Big Island (where I grew up) is a good, cheaper alternative to the more expensive outer islands, and has much more natural landscape to explore.

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  21. Becca, despite family protests, my hubby and I spent Christmas 2008 in Colombia. GORGEOUS country, gorgeous people. We loooved it!

    Also love Mexico & Costa Rica, but Colombia really hooked us.

    We like off the beaten path too...

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  22. Becca,

    I haven't been to Puerto Rico yet (it's on my list), so this is all just from research, but the weather is pretty much always a perfect 85 degrees, pretty beaches, good food, salsa dancing, and the ease of being in a US territory. There are the usual tropical adventure type activities of kayaking, hiking, snorkling, parasailing, hang gliding, ziplining, etc. I have a feeling it's not quite the South American back-country adventure, but it's more my speed.

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  24. go to peru! i went 2 years ago and it was amazing...i went to Lima and stayed with some relatives and then i saw the nazca lines (indigenous people create patterns of animals and other symbols on the desert ground) you have to go on a helicopter to see it all. plus machu picchu and other incan ruins...peruvian food is so delicious so you'll eat well too.

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  25. Guatemala is perfect for a week--you will have so much fun. but I'd also recommend Nicaragua, Belize, and Nova Scotia. Once you get to those places, you can live really well, really cheaply.

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  26. Some great suggestions already (Panama, Nicaragua, perhaps a driveable part of Mexico). How about somewhere in the US like Maine for lovely fresh lobster rolls and blueberry cobbler? It's a summer dream of mine and not as attainable since I'm not in NYC anymore. If you're ever in my new hood though, whoa I can tell you how to get airplane tickets to Bali for $100 and some other great stuff.

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  27. I'm getting so excited ladies. I have so many new country ideas to go explore...

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  28. I love this post.

    I'm beginning to feel that way too. By the time we get married, we'll have been planning for 2 years. That is a frickin' long time.

    I think about the day we won't be saving for the wedding and we'll have money again... but then we'll get a mortgage and be back at the beginning!

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  29. One word: GO.
    The wedding will TOTALLY be here when you get back, and you will never regret it, even if it means that all your guests only get one taco from the truck, each. ;-)

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  30. Yes! I tend to get ahead of myself and think too much in the long term, big picture and forget/ignore the here and now. Fiance and I have been spending a lot of time talking about what that looks like for us. We literally have no money to go anywhere but trying to find ways to expand our horizons other ways, like volunteering at a soup kitchen this weekend, or taking advantage of the fact that the getty and LACMA are free (and parking is free after 5 pm fri/sat!). We're going to Victoria, B.C. for our honeymoon! I've heard great things about Puerto Rico, Fiance's stepbrother is a commuter plane pilot and he's based there and LOVES it.

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  31. reading this post made me rather bummed out too. I ALWAYS knew that a European honeymoon was in the cards for us...until it wasn't. So a week in San Francisco (a place I've been...though my loverboy hasn't) is where we will spend our honeymoon. I'm excited, but not ecstatic, if that even makes sense.

    I was talking to my mom about this a little bit. About 10 years ago, my parents started taking annual trips to Europe together...she told me that the adventures don't have to end.

    Prague is at the top of my "must see" list.

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  32. I can totally relate to this post. My engagement will only be 9 months long (I've got 6 months to go) and already I'm beginning to feel like, where did the rest of my life go? There are so many other areas of interest that I'm totally neglecting right now, and it makes me feel really one dimensional since if anyone asks what I've been doing lately the answer most likely includes something to do with the wedding.

    And I'm turning 30 this year too. And we want kids before I turn 35. We actually have planned our kid timeline (ideal) based on when we'll have the money to finish renovations as well as to get a few more international trips in. Because it is going to change once you have kids. Speaking as someone whose parents took her to Europe when she was 8, I know I had very little appreciation for it. And since my fiance and I are both teachers, if we're spending the money, it really has to be worth it for everyone. So the international travel will likely stop until our kids are teenagers (with the semi-exception of Mexico & Canada). But definitely resume once they're all in college because it will be lots more affordable to take 2 adults then the whole family.

    Basically, all this to say that I completely understand where you're coming from. As far as destinations go, Peru was fun, but Ecuador was fabulous. It's sort of a microcosm of South America, but all in a smaller geographical footprint. Galapagos animals (including some you can see on Isla de Plata if you don't have funds for the Galapagos), Amazon forest, great mountains to climb, the largest market in South America (Otavalo), the yummiest fruit ever, and tons of other cool stuff.

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  33. I think that deciding to just be yourself is a nice to advice to brides out there also. I think that if you push too hard, it's like losing the fun with the experience of planning it.

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  34. I've never been, but I've heard wonderful things about visiting Ecuador, both in terms of pretty cheap costs as well as friendliness. I am be super-interested in Galapagos, but it's such a fragile ecosystem, I'd want to do a lot of research to understand the impact of my trip there and try to lessen the stress on the environment.

    Additionally, if you're not completely opposed to domestic travel, I've been obsessed with the idea of a trip to explore Minnesota over the last couple of years. I'll share my fantasy itinerary as it is now: I'd like to fly in, spend a few days in Minneapolis taking in art, parks, shopping, food, etc... then head up to the boundary waters area and do a canoe trip in the wilderness, and finally go to some kind of summery lake cottage area to relax for the last part of the trip. Minnesota just seems so different from my home (deep south), and has this Scandinavian tie/history that's always intrigued me.

    Good luck!

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  35. Watch plane tickets. Buy cheap ones to ANYWHERE in southern Mexico (including Mexico City) or Central America. The buses are INSANELY inexpensive and easy to use, and you can get to Guate or somewhere equally great from most places. When you find a cheap plane ticket, email me and I can point you at the chicken buses. They're everywhere, too. xoxox

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  36. I would recommend the Dominican Republic. I have been to the island 4-5 times now, and the people (as a whole) are wonderfully genuine and pleasant.

    You can get all inclusive packages, but be sure you ask the front desk for recommendations on where THEY go to eat, too - so you can get some authentic food - not just touristy stuff.

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  37. Me case hace 3 semanas. Mi viaje de luna de miel tuvo que ser un poco diferente al previsto, debido a las mismas circunstancias y miedos que tenias tu, ya que mi actual marido, ha perdido su trabajo. Nosotros queriamos una luna de miel en canada, con todos los gastos pagados en super-hoteles de 5 estrellas....nos lo mereciamos, nos lo emrecemos, pero no ha podido ser. En vez de eso, buscamos billetes de avion baratos a NY, Washington y Boston, donde hemos pasdo 10 preciosos dias en hoteles de precio razonable, y aunque no hemos podido realizar nuestro sueño de visitar canada, no lo olvido. En cuanto las cosas nos lo permitan, haremos ese viaje.
    Disfruta el tiempo que te queda hasta la boda. Pasa volando una vez que solot e quedan 7 dias....y el dia de tu boda pasa aun mas rapido. Disfrutalo a tope!
    Vuelve a españa cuando quieras y puedas...tienes que venir a cordoba en mayo....te gustará!
    angela

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  38. @Angela - (I'm more comfortable responding in English, but your comment in Spanish made me smile). Thank you for your thoughtful response. It's hard putting aside our original travel dreams, and I'm so happy you found a honeymoon alternative that worked for you. And I know the adventure and love will make our choices worthwhile, wherever we end up too. (Y echo de menos Espana, y me encante Cordoba tambien).

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  39. I LOVE quebec city, and it really does feel like crazy magic far away -- LA to NYC is CHEAP, and renting a car or taking a train up is just a bit more. I'd say it's about 11 hour drive from NYC, but I could be wrong. It's soooo pretttyyyyy.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/verhext/2749529183/in/set-72157606648629974/

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  40. oh, i didnt see your comment. Ok. NEVER MIND.

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  41. I understand you completely, I feel exactly the same. We're putting most of our money into our wedding now, and once that's done, we sort of want to have kids soon, while we're still young. I live in the US but I'm originally from Sweden, so the thought of having kids anywhere else but there is just a no-go (once you've been introduced to the magical wonders of 14 months of paid parental leave - half for me, half for him, as well as subsidized childcare once both of you are back at work, there is just no way we could manage to have kids in the US).

    But there are just so many things going on. Because while I want to have kids and move back to Sweden, I want to stay at my job here. And I also want to advance and perhaps get a higher level job in another country. And I want to travel. A lot. And I want to quit my job and backpack for a year. Or move to Paris. And I want a big wedding. And I want to buy a nice house one day. And expensive shoes.

    And I want EVERYTHING at once, and I'm a bit resentful that I can't have it all, that certain choices include giving up some of these things. I can't move to Washington and get a hot-shot job, backpacking through Africa and having kids while wearing Louboutins. And it really sucks. And i'm trying to remember that it is ok to not have it all, that all I can try is to do as much as possible and chose whatever feels most right at the moment.

    Wedding, travel, kids, work. I guess that's the priority list. I'll get to the Louboutins when I'm 80 or something.

    (also, just need to push for my favorite holiday destination; Africa, the coolest place ever. Go to Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa and Mozambique. Fantastic places, wonderful people and great nature)

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  42. My fiancé and I took a 3 week trip to England and Greece while waiting to hear back about an offer we put on a house, planning a wedding and were flat ass broke. We did lots of back and forth about going and how crazy it was (and seemed to almost everyone we talked to) but it was worth every penny. Yeah, we charged most of it but we've since paid it back and it was one of the best times we've ever had in the 13 yrs we've been together. Making memories before and after your wedding is so, so important.

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